Monday, 9 September 2013

Emma Bridgewater Open Day

If you've been around here for a little while, you may have noticed that I have a lot of love for Emma Bridgewater and their products. In fact, one of their mugs inspired my whole "Happiness Is..." series.

So you can only imagine my excitement when I was invited to visit their factory in Stoke-on-Trent last Thursday and find out a little bit more about Emma Bridgewater and their products, as part of a larger stockists' open day they were hosting. My friend LR and I took the opportunity for a little overnight trip (after all, Stoke-on-Trent is pretty far north of West Devon...!), and road tripped it up after we finished work on Wednesday.

To put our excitement into perspective, I woke up on the Thursday morning to LR squealing "Alice, I feel like it's Christmas!!". So we got dressed, I checked my camera was working, and we hot-footed it down to the factory.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the lovely staff, who told us that the day was intended to be the opportunity to find out a little more about the company and their products, and get a cheeky preview of their autumn and Christmas ranges. We were quickly booked onto a factory tour, told to go and grab a complimentary cup of tea from the lovely on-site cafe (which featured the wonderful Aga below), and let loose to browse both the factory seconds' store and the first quality store. We were in heaven.

The black marks seen here shows where the imperfections are, but rub off easily

We started in the seconds' store- which is where anything which doesn't meet the company's exacting standards is sold at a slightly reduced price. These items are as often as not pretty much perfect, but maybe with a slight mark on the glaze, or the tiniest smudge. They're a great way to build your collection up pretty quickly for a little less. 

After a brief peruse, it was time for our factory tour. We learnt that twenty five thousand pieces of pottery are made here every week, from the classic half-pint mugs to specialist Christmas pieces (which I can't show you as they haven't been released yet- but if you're a collector, my goodness you will love these!). The clay is locally sourced, and the staff are immensely loyal, showing what a great company this must be to work for- and they were all so friendly and willing to show us what they were up to. I have to say- seeing the work that goes into each piece of pottery has given me a massive appreciation of the work that goes into each of my precious Emma Bridgewater items.

Pre and post glazing...

After seeing the master decorators doing their thing in the factory, we were desperate to have a go ourselves. We were ushered to their decorating studio, and were each provided with one of my favourite half-pint mugs each to decorate as we saw fit. Some of the other attendees were doing incredibly creative things to their mugs, but LR and I decided to play it safe, and play with the spongeware we were offered...

We each chose to use two different shades of blue and two of green to decorate our mugs- mine features the stars, and LR went with spots. We each also put a letter stamp in the bottom of our mugs, so they are clearly ours- I cannot wait to receive mine in the post!

Over lunch, I got to catch up with some of the other attendees, including the lovely Jen from Love Chic Living. We were fed on amazing quiches from Higgidy, a company owned by Emma Bridgewater's cousin, and chattered to by Matthew Rice- Emma's husband, and one of the key designers. He's hilariously brilliant, and discussed how this autumn they hoped to bring their collections together in a slightly more cohesive manner, rather than just expanding outwards- and having a look at the lovely new products below, I think they've achieved this amazingly well.

The new Peter Rabbit range would be amazing for littles...

...and we loved the new interpretation of their classic Polka Dot range, Polka Pansy
The new Toast & Marmalade range
After a lovely peruse, we indulged in a few cheeky purchases, including beautiful blue splatter mugs, and in my case, an entire set of the Starry Skies crockery- a 10 1/2 inch plate, 8 1/2 inch plate, pasta bowl, and French bowl to go with my newly decorated mug (and my old favourite Elephant mug, which is sadly no longer available)....

All in all, we had an absolutely stellar day- we felt so well looked after, and felt like we really gained a whole new insight into the organisation. If you're interested in doing the same, they run factory tours daily, and you're also able to visit their decorating studio to have a go yourself. I would highly recommend a visit!

In the interests of full disclosure, I was reimbursed for my travel costs to and from the factory, and given my mug to decorate on the day, but not paid to write this post. I genuinely had an absolutely brilliant day!


  1. What a great day. I really like that Peter Rabbit mug for myself, and that Aga is beautiful!

  2. Ahh Alice this looks amazing!! What an incredible day...and yup...I would like that Aga in my life!x

  3. WHAAAAAAAT!?!?!?!?! I am beyond jealous right now. And the Peter Rabbit range for littlies? I don't think so. I would love those!! What an amazing day, I'm going to sit here and stew in my own jealousy.

    Jenny | sunny sweet pea xx

  4. This is so high on my list of things I really, really want to do! My husband has told me I'm not allowed to buy any more Emma Bridgewater mugs.... but he's not said anything about plates and bowls, tins and stationary!!

    It looks like you had such a fun day. I think I'm going to have a word with my sister in law who is also a huge EB fan and sort out a nice weekend away with this as the main focus of fun!


  5. I am deadly jealous of you right now! It's all looks amazing! It looks like it would be a great day out too especially if you get to have a try at making your own too x

  6. You can really understand why they retail for so much money now - rare to see products (pottery and ceramics especially) still made in Britain. Used to be one of the country's biggest industries!

    Great post!

  7. I did not know that Aga had collaborated with Emma Bridgewater - what a beauty! It looks like you had a perfect day :)
    Heather x

  8. This looks SO fun! I like the bunnykins set, Love mr peter and his rabbit friends. I demand a cup of tea picture in your new cup when it arrives.

    Em x

  9. What a fabulous day! I love Emma Bridgewater stuff, but it's so pricey. At least I understand why now!!

    You did a great job with your mugs and I can't wait to see how they look once they've been fired xx


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