Back in 2015, as part of my MA project Lost and Found, exploring the landscape around Soil Hill near Halifax and experimenting with pancheon forms (bread dough mixing bowls), I met Aaron at the wonderful Handmade Bakery, Slaithwaite. Aaron was one of a workers there who kindly agreed to a request I made, for any of the bakers to bring in their favourite baking bowls from home, so that I could photograph them holding these vessels – hoping to capture the deep relationship that can exist between human and object – when something feels right, it almost encourages us to make with it, experiment with it, drink from it etc….
In the intervening years, Aaron and his partner Vic have set up Triangle Bakehouse in Ripponden. As with Handmade – there is a commitment ‘to strive to bake healthy, nutritious, naturally leavened bread using a variety of organic, heritage and modern grains’ and an interest in sourcing locally and from the UK. There’s an obvious connection to my work in digging & collecting local clays and materials for glazing, and in 2021 we started a project that hopes to capture that shared enthusiasm.
We decided that we wanted to make things that are central to daily life, whether that’s the bread we eat, or the cup we drink from, the plates we put our toast on etc., and set about discussing a simple range of designs that would reflect this. We came up with a simple flat plate design with a raised rim that would help hold a well-balanced cup / mug and a slice of toast (see below), and this design has informed where we have taken things since. Because of the small-batch nature of my work, i.e. sourcing small quantities of clay (stoneware and earthenware) and having to experiment with a range of natural glazes to gain the best ‘fit’ – both aesthetically and in terms of practicality, it has meant that whilst the glazing and colour palette may change, the basic design stays robustly consistent.
So far clays used have been a stoneware clay from Clee Hill (Shropshire), and more recently a beautiful earthenware clay from near Ockeridge in Worcestershire, which is only 6-7 miles from where I live. This is the clay that I first used when working on the project I called Local – making pint beakers for other ‘regulars’ at my favourite pub, The Plough on Deansgate, Worcester. Both of these clays also allowed me to incorporate them into the glazes – which made them even more sustainable / local products.
We have had some success with these designs – people seem to like them and want to use them. Obviously, because of the nature of the work, the plates (£28) and mugs (£26) are slightly more expensive that some – but actually are still cheaper than others! We hope we have found the right balance in making a range of hand-dug clay products accessible, hoping that these will be used everyday…. The last thing we want is for these ceramics to be on a shelf or in a cabinet. From experience, we find that when things are priced to high – they just don’t get used and become decorative – which somehow misses what we are on about.
We launched the work at the Christmas Fair at the Bakery in December 2021, and there will be a Meet the Maker stall on the 20th August, 2022, followed by another Christmas Fair stall in December… The plates, mugs and some small jugs are available from the bakery.
Adam Buick Akiko Hirai Bakers bowls Baking Blue Bonfire Bowls Clee Hill Efficient energy use Influences Isaac Button Islay John Leach Kiln New Year Ockeridge Octomore Palimpsest Pancheon Pint Place Shows Soil Hill Whisky tumblers Wild clay Work