Published on 18/01/2017
WE MET ANNE RODGERS of Alsager Pottery at Scone Palace during the 2016 Potfest ceramics fair. Her stand displaying slipware stood out among many indifferent stands and we were delighted when she agreed to exhibit her pieces at Tolquhon.
Anne has been making pottery for more than 30 years. She and her late husband, Ken, set up their pottery in 1981 after leaving jobs in the ceramics industry, where they had worked in senior technical and scientific roles. Alsager is just a few miles from Stoke-on-Trent, the home of world-famous potteries. Industrial scale production has largely ceased but Staffordshire pottery is still revered.
Anne specialises in slipware, hand thrown pottery decorated with coloured ‘slip’ (liquid clay). The patterns on Alsager pottery look almost like embroidery with forget-me-not patterns, in particular, looking like French knots — very appealing to anyone who loves vintage pieces. Older-style, traditional slipware is decorated with a dark brown glaze, typically seen in museum pieces. Anne still uses brown but she and her husband also developed more contemporary pastel glazes and colourful slips.
There are so very many interesting styles of pottery that when we were beginning to be potters my husband and I found it very hard to settle on one. Then the director of our local museum, The Potteries Museum in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, spoke to us enthusiastically about slipware being such a local tradition and how good it would be to have young local potters continuing this tradition — we were then in our twenties. The Potteries Museum has a world famous collection of slipware.
That settled us!
Ken loved throwing our local red clay, the same clay continually used locally to make useful vessels since pre-Roman times, and I loved trailing patterns on his shapes. For me it's like solid doodling. Now I have to do all the parts of making as he's no longer here.
It's a wonderful thought that we've been continuing this long local tradition and that our pieces have travelled widely over the world.
Making commemorative plates is a special pleasure; we’ve made more than 1260 now. Each one is for some special, usually happy, event in someone's life. I've just had a request to make a plate for the granddaughter of someone now living in America, who lived in Scotland when we first made plates for his children in the 1980s.
It has been wonderful to have something practical and satisfying to involve myself in.
We have a beautiful range of Alsager pottery currently in stock — useful everyday items such as mugs, jugs, bowls and plates and also decorative platters and commemorative pieces. We can also take orders for commemorative pieces.