Thursday 22 August 2013

In the press Motto ware.. The Martinborough Star!

For a little while now I have been contributing to the Martinborough Star our 100% local monthly newspaper.

Just a little piece (not too long, you lucky readers!) each month on something vintage that I like... it's been a lot of fun and so I though I would do a little link here and anyone reading can also link through, have a peek at the Star and see what a great town we have in the Wairarapa.

August edition was "Mottoware".

“Elp yersel...”
The bright simple and fun decoration on “Devonware” is unmistakable. The exact origin of pieces is hard to determine as the red clay pottery with thick slip decoration was used throughout Devon and the surrounding counties. Rustic, countryside inspired and a world away from the elegant china being produced in the Staffordshire potteries, the brown and cream wares of Dartmouth, Torbay, Exeter, Torquay, Newton Abbott and Watcombe are very distinctive.

 Probably the most recognisable and collected is the mottoware, a mainstay of the Torquay pottery. Early pieces were made, often by hand, from the red clay found in the area and dipped in a cream slip before being decorated with sayings such as “make hay while the sun shines”, “Elp yersel” and “still waters run deep”. 

The egg cup shown below says “new laid”. 

The words were chosen to elicit a smile, or as a souvenir from a local destination, and scratched into the drying leathery material. This technique is known as sgraffito. I like the fact that these are such personal pieces; you can see the different child like writing styles. The reverse side of pieces are decorated with naive coloured slip designs of cockerels, ships, windmills, ladies or the most common a cottage set beside trees. In fact this style of pottery is often called “Cottageware” or “Mottoware”

Over time things changed and by the 1950’s much of the red clay had been used up and the more available whiter clay was substituted. Wares tended to be cast rather than handmade. This did widen the range and teapots, toast racks, and bowls with moulded handles were added to previous limited shapes. The manufacture however didn’t allow for sgraffito handwriting and so these later items have their mottoes painted on using a brown paint.

Such fun to collect various mottoes and the tone of colours makes for a lovely display.
Most of these items are for sale in my Online Store or email me

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