I recently wrote about my visit to Jackfield Tile Museum. You can catch up with that post here. Whilst we were there I decided to unleash my creative side at the Jackfield Tile Workshop. They run drop in events daily between 1000 and 1500 and you can also book group sessions. Don’t forget to check the website for details in case it’s closed when you want to go.
Tiles cost from £5.00 each and it takes around 1 and a half hours to complete your tile so make sure you allow time, someone will then help you through the art of creating your very own ceramic masterpiece using the traditional Victorian Tube Lining technique.
I picked out what shape of tile I’d like to do and I was given an apron.
A very lovely lady then explained the process and each stage of the tile from your drawing to the finished product. This is what each stage looks like next to each other:
I was then given a tube bag and a plain tile to practice on – the technique took me a little while to get used to, you have to draw with the bag like it’s a pencil and also gently squeeze the bag at the same time to get the stuff to come out. These initial lines are what stops each glaze colour running into the next.
Once I was satisfied that I’d mastered the technique (I say mastered, but I mean once I was satisfied my wobbly, blobby technique was never going to improve), I planned my design on some plain paper – I traced around my chosen tile shape so I knew area I was working with. I obviously went for a cat themed design.
There is also the option to pick from one of the pre made designs they have there, perfect for children or if you’d prefer not to have to draw something yourself.
Once you are happy with the design, you use carbon paper to trace the image from the paper onto your tile. Then you get to use the tube lining bag to go over your design.
I was then introduced to the glazes! If you watch Pottery Throwdown (if you don’t, you really should – it’s the best programme ever) you will know that the glazes look completely different colours from when you paint them on to when they are fired. Luckily there was a handy guide to the colours and each pot of glaze was named so you could check you had the right colour before painting onto your tile.
I then set to work painting my design with all the gleeful joy and enthusiasm of a small child. It was so much fun, the glazes are really weird and it’s like the tile sucks up the glaze, the very nice lady who was helping me explained I would need to paint my colours much thicker for them to be bold and bright after they’d been fired.
My finished painted design looked like this. I was pretty proud of it.
It was then taken to be fired.
They quite often fire the same day and if you are local, it’s really easy to come back to collect your tile. If like me, you arent local and collecting it would be around an 800 mile round trip (maybe, I don’t know, I’m terrible at geography, basically it would take me all day to collect it) you can take advantage of their postal service – for an extra cost, once fired your tile is packed up and posted back to you.
When my tile arrived a few weeks later, I was really excited and genuinely quite pleased with how my design had turned out.
You can see where I didn’t put on my glaze quite thick enough though!
The Jackfield Tile Workshops are fabulous fun, I had a great time painting my tile and as I sat happily painting my little moonlit cat, I noted that the workshops weren’t just appealing to children, there were a number of adults also creating their own tiles. In fact, many years ago my Granny and my brother both made tiles there. My brother’s came from one of the pre made designs – I noticed it on the wall whilst I was there!
The staff were friendly and helpful, made sure I knew what I was doing and when the workshop became quiet, I had a lovely chat with a member of staff about university.
I had a great afternoon and I’m sure my parents loved watching me sit and paint for nearly two hours!
This is a great holiday activity that I genuinely think the whole family can enjoy and get involved with. Totally perfect for a British Summer where it’s quite likely to rain but you still want to get out of the house. You certainly get your moneys worth in your completed and fired tile.