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Moorcroft Pottery

A potted History

            William Moorcroft started work in the art pottery department of James Macintyre and his rare ability to combine the qualities of timeless shape with well matched artistic design coupled his knowledge of chemistry soon promoted him to head the department at a very young age and he was allowed to sign pieces with his own name. However Macintyre's core business was industrial ceramics and it was only a passing fashion for the prosperous industrial ceramics producers to support art pottery.  It was therefore almost inevitable that Macintyre would in time close his own department.

 

            With the initial blessing of Macintyre , William Moorcroft used this opportunity  to set up his own art pottery business in 1913 transferring most of his staff with him . With financial help from Liberty's , Moorcroft built a modern purpose built factory at Cobridge. William was married in the same year to a factory inspector which may have contributed to the factory being built in only ten weeks! Macintyre gave Moorcroft their customer list and all his moulds. This gave him a good start and enabled him to weather the financial implications of the first world war. He was always obsessed with quality and made it his business to oversee all aspects of production and sign all major pieces.

 

            Moorcroft pottery has always been expensive and slow to produce with the tubelining process Moorcroft is famous for .Each piece is hand turned  to remove any mould marks before the pattern is traced onto the unfired pot. The traced pattern is then tubelined (the process of applying raised slip clay to the surface of the pot in a similar way to icing a cake) before decoration. The metal oxide colours are then applied by hand to the pattern before the first firing. As different paintresses hand paint pieces each one is turned into a work of art in its own right and therefore no two pieces ever come out exactly the same. Quite often the colours change dramatically in the firing and part of moorcroft's great skill was knowing how these colours would chemically react and combine.  Moorcroft's reputation grew as the pottery won several awards and he became potter to the queen in 1928. Production was always fairly limited because William insisted on personally controlling the entire process . William's most popular designs were pomegranite , pansy  and wisteria.

 

            In 1945 , after his father's death, Walter Moorcroft took over the factory. Walter took William's experimentation with flambe glazes much further. Flambe glazes need much higher temperatures and exacting control over the firing process. The flambe glazes gave pieces a fiery red richness and the result varied making each piece unique. Flambe glazes went out of use when pollution regulations enforced control over emissions .These were difficult to adhere to with the high temperature firing.

            In 1962 John Moorcroft , who is still with the company today , became involved. By the eighties Moorcroft was in trouble and its attempts to produce cheaper ranges took the company to near bankruptcy. Investment by Hugh Edwards and Richard Dennis saved the company with a flurry of new and exiting designs. The phoenix years have seen the company's designs and techniques taken to a new height and popularity beyond even the early years.