Visitors to our showroom often ask who designed something, and surprisingly that's a hard question to answer! It's much easier to say who decorated it, but that's not necessarily the same thing.
What I can say though is that there is creative input at all stages of the making process, and that in broad terms it's my job to try to coordinate the efforts of all the people who contribute along the way. We are trying new things all the time, and when I look back over the samples and concept pieces we generated during 2011, the range and variety is quite remarkable. Many of these designs pass through the Showroom as 'D Lab' samples, which is why when you visit the Showroom there will almost always be something different to see. Many of these are one-off pieces that won't be reproduced, something to think about if you are a collector.
Morris and James is unique in many ways, not least the nature of the business which can accurately be described as 'craft production'. It is this that makes it difficult to ascribe 'ownership' of a design to any one particular individual. Ideas for designs come from all sorts of places, but it is largely my responsibility to 'generate, sift and sort'!
Once a design sample has been selected as suitable for further development, it will be reworked, each iteration being a refinement of the previous version until a 'master' is struck. At that point it is agreed that the design is as good as it's going to get and development stops. From the tweaking of the shape in the throwing, the subtle blending required in the under-glaze spraying and then the application by hand of the design detail, all of those individual hands and eyes help get a design to the point where it is considered 'finished'.
In some cases one of the decorators will specialize in a design because the style or way in which a glaze needs to be applied suits their particular skill or artistic sensitivity. Inevitably this leads to that individual interpreting things in their own unique way, which is very much part of what makes Morris & James pottery special. As every single pot is worked by hand, that and the vagaries of the glazes and firing process, no two pieces arel ever be the same.
We can and do respond to customer inquiries, and in response to a recent comment posted on this blog, we are happy to look at suggestions for a new interpretation or an addition to an existing design. Sometimes this can be done easily, sometimes we haven't done it for a very good reason, it just won't work! If there is something that you'd be interested in seeing, or would like to commission an exclusive piece, please email us and we'll see what we can do.
- Nick C