We had a chat with Collector's Club member Bev Dewhirst @wild_thyme123 about all things Emma Bridgewater, home comforts, frequent factory visits, and the joys of Christmas rituals...
"I loved all those simple and naively sponged animals, flowers and birds, on crockery that is chunky and tactile, and unlike some kinds of pottery, I knew I wouldn’t be frightened of using it"
How long have you been collecting Emma Bridgewater pottery and what initially sparked your interest?
I’ve been collecting Emma Bridgewater since 1996, not long after Emma opened her Factory Shop in Lichfield Street, Stoke. We had just bought an old run-down Victorian cottage in the Staffordshire moorlands and were in the process of renovating it and ‘setting up home’. We were newly married, and I was looking to start a small collection of crockery to use in the first kitchen of my own. Back then, most people were putting traditional 36 piece ‘dinner sets’ on their wedding lists, but I wanted something less formal, something that suited the cosy, farmhouse style aesthetic that I was trying to create at home. I’ve been living and working in the countryside all my life, so seeing Emma’s designs for the first time in the factory shop, meant I had at last found just what I was looking for.
I loved all those simple and naively sponged animals, flowers and birds, on crockery that is chunky and tactile, and unlike some kinds of pottery, I knew I wouldn’t be frightened of using it, taking it in the garden or putting it the oven. Plus, the fact that each piece is so beautiful that it must be shown off on the dresser of course. Hence an addiction was spawned!
Bev's Christmas Favourites
Do you have a favourite piece or collection – what is it that you love about this piece/collection?
I have a complete cornucopia of patterns, everything from Pink Hearts to Poppies, and it’s so hard to pick a particular favourite, but I do love big statement pieces, so I’m probably going to choose my Teddy and Bows six-pint jug. It’s a very early pattern from the late 1980’s and has those simple bands of naïve sponging which are so evocative of Emma’s early designs.
I bought it from a private collector, who’d had it commissioned from way back when the Fulham Road store opened. I like quite quirky designs too, so another favourite must be my gallon teapot that had been a raffle prize at an event at the Factory. It’s sponged all over with a multitude of familiar designs – everything from Polka Dots to those cheeky faces of Betty’s Fat Rascals. It’s a bit whacky, but it makes me smile every time I look at it!
How do you like to style your EB – what pattern combinations do you like at the moment?
At home, I have three main displays to show off my collection. I have a dresser in my dining room, which is red and green themed, and that display contains things like pieces from the long discontinued Past Times collection, Poppies, Oak, Cherries and various fruit patterns, plus specials and samples from Collectors Events.
I have a glazed cabinet in the sitting room, which is probably my favourite display, as it showcases all my early and older sponged pieces, samples and specials. There’s a bit of everything in there, even some old pieces from Emma’s time in the early days as Brixton Pottery, but there’s newer pieces too, like mini coddlers from the Pink Hearts and Bumble Bee patterns. The kitchen dresser pretty much gets a facelift with each season.
At the moment, I’m displaying a mixture of Black Toast and Vegetable Garden, intermingled with some old pieces that I have from the long-discontinued Kitchen Garden range. Black Toast is such a design classic, you can mix it with pretty much any pattern, and it never dates. It is easy to see why that particular design has been around for so long. After Bonfire night, I’ll take it all down, and create my Christmas display. I love to bring out my old favourites like Big Holly and Christmas Toast and mix in new pieces like Ivy and Gold Toast. Then I will be looking to add a bit of glamour and sparkle, so I’ll be adding the odd piece from the new gold Oak pattern, as well as hoping to add to my Twelve Days of Christmas collection.
A bit nearer to the big day itself, I’ll usually add a big bowl of scented Paperwhite Narcissus and Pinecones to the dresser too, and pop in a few springs of foraged Spruce and Holly around the jugs on the top. I’ll also have a few favourite jugs dotted around the house containing Scots Pine, Eucalyptus, sprigs of berries, bright red Amaryllis and Red Anemones. Then the whole house is filled with a wonderful pine fresh Christmassy fragrance.
12 Days Of Christmas
Black Toast & Marmalade
Gold Toast & Marmalade
We’ve seen you have been to our factory in Stoke-On-Trent – could you tell us a bit why you enjoy going?
I’ve been visiting the factory at Stoke for many years. In fact, my family friends constantly joke about it being my second home! Being a local girl, I’ve practically got pottery DNA in my bones, and living so close to the Stoke shop, has meant I can often pop in to check out the newest product ranges, or see if I can spot some treasure or a bargain in the outlet section.
I particularly enjoy attending the collectors club events and have been to many in the past. They’re a great opportunity to meet up with other collectors and shop for some really individual samples or archive pieces to add to my collection. I’ve made some lovely friendships with like-minded collectors from the length and breadth of the country, through our shared passion of all things EB. Aside from the shopping, we love to have a good old gossip over tea and cake!
Meet the jigger, jollier, fettlers, casters and decorators and see their traditional skills and craftsmanship yourself...Visit The Emma Bridgewater Factory