Susan Rose

Long promised new

Finally, here we are with the long promised new website! 

When the business amalgamated with International Ceramic Printing late in 2018 to have its own workshop, it became even more apparent that the business needed a bigger and better on-line presence to support the developing business.  Having come to this realisation, the decision was taken in February to begin the planning of a new website suitable to support our growing business.

Susan as always has been at the hub of her business and her key role is always deciding which of her unique lines could do with further development and a “revamp” to be fit for today’s market, which new lines from an ever changing market place would enhance the business by allowing her to add her own twist on things giving them that unique Susan “flavour “– and of course which designs having done their job over the years in getting the business to this level which now need to discarded – never an easy task. So in the planning of this website, we have been through all the products with a fine toothcomb and the amount of work this has generated has been unprecedented!  So we really hope you like what you see!

Susan was particularly keen that a new website should showcase some new designs and as part of this push, Susan is introducing her spectacular new Flamingo range – based as so many of her designs are on her own personal sketches.  These brightly coloured birds are always a talking point and we love the phrase on the new teacups and teapot that “Pink is Power”!  The range is not yet finished with further suggestions coming in for development from Emily in the workshop as to using this lovely bird on a new Christmas Bauble for launch later in the year – watch this space!

On the development front, our hugely popular racing china has undergone a revamp with the help of Paul Webber racing and this has seen the introduction of our new contemporary teapot and matching Stirling teacups.

Our bookworm range was always popular both here and in America. This too has undergone some revamping with further authors added to our new Balmoral mug and we have also introduced further authors into the complementary Bookworm teapot in this range. We have further plans to develop this range with a similar mug featuring male authors and to produce a further one particularly for the American market.

Bookworm Mug

The countryside has always featured heavily in Susan’s life and our floral range is one of which Susan is justifiably proud.  We have further developed this by adding to our “Secrets” range with a beautiful new ½ pint English bone china tankard mug, matching teapot and a large square dish.  Perfect for a stunning “secret” gift!

Jug of Secrets

Our children’s range has been greatly pared back for the launch as we are busy working on some exciting new designs for these very important little people and these will be with you by the end of October!  We have though given Susan’s hand-painted and hand-drawn Christening Pictures pride of place with a category solely devoted to these unique works of art!

Each of these new projects involves a great deal of work from the initial concept until the design is finally published on our website. Each design is carefully discussed within the team before Susan puts pen to paper and discusses the intricacies of the printing and the reproduction of the design with the workshop team in Stoke-on-Trent.  We rely on Andy to decide on the final hand-painted touches that make the products so unique.  Once the sample English bone china is made, the pieces are individually photographed by Emily in Stoke using our professional photographic machine before being returned to Susan for her to add her own unique touch by photographing each product in context, so her clients have a very good idea of how the piece of china to be purchased will look in their home. Recognising the importance of Social Media, Susan is in the process of adding animated posts to every product.

Finished Baubles

For the last 3 years, we have been discussing how best to develop a designated page to show our clients how they might have an individually designed & personalised dinner service.  This page will be up and running early in 2020!

We have been indebted to our new website designers, Karen and Richard from Brookstone Creative, who have been fantastic in both their support and their ideas for getting the best out of our products. But the biggest thank you has to go to Christina and all at Green Umbrella Marketing with whom we have worked with for many years now and who gave us the introduction to Brookstone when they could see that we were ready to jump our business to the next level.

We hope you love our new website as much as we do.  Watch this space for our forthcoming Special Offers and Discount Vouchers at the end of this month.

Feet up we did it!

Susan Rose

Susan Rose China team

A review of our work in English bone china in 2018

Thanks to Christina at Green Umbrella I have finally been press-ganged into writing my first blog for Susan Rose China and been given the topic of reviewing our work in 2018.

How to summarise a whole years work I ask myself?

Rather than list our activities by month which I found rather too reminiscent of a round-robin Christmas letter ( only recently consigned to the recycling bin ) I have decided to try and summarise by topic.

Christina Green Umbrella


Getting married continues to provide Susan Rose China with a steady supply of work. We love working with The Wedding Present Company who continue to provide us with a steady supply of orders from the engagement announcement through to the wedding and onto the birth announcements – like night follows day! In 2018 there were 2 high profile weddings which we were pleased to be a very small part of.

Wedding bespoke oval planter

Dinner Services

An area we would like to expand in 2019 once we have figured out how to improve our website. We completed several dinner services for newly weds in 2018 and remain firmly convinced having your own dinner service pattern on English bone china can’t be beaten. The idea has been updated from the past when you routinely received an entire matching set of everything.Today couples are focused on a limited range of the basics to which they can add as the years unfold. Still deeply personal, beautiful and very durable for daily use.



After Susan and Viv visited Sandhurst early in the year to sponsor the All Arms Pace Sticking competition we have added more regiments to the list of Susan Rose China recipients including the Gurkhas, Royal Engineers and some of the Royal Armoured Corps. After doing a bit of research I am pleased to find there are 17 infantry regiments, 9 armoured corps regiments, 4 reserve regiments and 5 combat support arms regiments in The British Army. And then there is the Navy and Royal Air Force …. Plenty more people to enlighten on the benefits of having china made from English bone china. We need to circulate the video of Susan standing on a bone china plate to demonstrate it’s strength. No sign of cracking (honest).

Gurkha place setting


Susan has been made vice-chair of Friends of the Scott Polar Institute (FOSPRI) this year which has only strengthened her determination to visit Antarctica. Our visit to the Arctic in 2015 seems a long time ago (and was so much nearer). I have been playing her youtube videos of ships in rough seas to try and put her off but sadly it doesn’t seem to have dampened her determination! She has taken to recruiting any of our friends who will listen to become members of FOSPRI and put their names down for an Antarctic trip in 2021.

Her interest continues to inspire a range of polar themed china and has meant we have produced a mug full of history for Robert Scottin 2018 to complement the one she has done for Ernest Shackleton. It is exciting to think he might win the BBC Icons title.

In 2018 we have also worked with The Gilbert White Museum in Hampshire – it is a fascinating collection celebrating Gilbert White and the Oates Collection –

Scott prints

Schools and Universities

Viv seems determined to recruit every school in the UK to her list of recipients of a Susan Rose China Mug! In 2018 we have enjoyed working with Warwick School, The High School Glasgow, St Peters School, Luckley House, Hurstpierpoint School, Friends of Brandeston School, Gordonstoun, Rugby School, Blundells School, Bryanston School, St Edmunds College, The Loughborough Foundation, Universities of Kent and Exeter, Trinity College Cambridge, Halliford School, Dragon School, St Mary’s School, Birkenhead School, Dean Close, Ynsmaerdy Primary School, Harrow School and she even spread her tentacles across the world to Ruyton Girls’ School in Australia. We hope to grow her reach further in 2019 and are talking to the new wave of English schools in the Far East.

A recent comment left on our website from Hurstpierpoint College

‘We have recently received our third order of mugs from Susan Rose China. As always, we are delighted with the design, the packaging and delivery. Viv is extremely helpful and efficient and nothing is too much trouble. Thank you’


Viv doesn’t confine herself to schools and has managed to persuade several large companies of the benefits of a quality product which will last. We have loved working with Stifel this year and have enjoyed a new relationship with Birchall Tea which does seem a natural fit. I hope more people may decide the benefit of drinking from bone china is worth the investment and might save us from having to watch programmes about our planet drowning in plastic. Here’s hoping ..

Follow this link to listen to Sir David Attenborough’s message on plastic.

Bookworm Mug

Susan decided to adapt her bookworm mug for the Coffeehouse Readers in 2018. It is a Facebook group with over 10,000 members. No coincidence her sister, Barbara Claypole White, is one of the founding members. Susan’s bookworm mug design celebrates the writing of over 30 female British authors.

Follow this link to have a look at a UK version of the bookworm mug or this link to purchase the US version from Susan Rose China’s Facebook shop.

Bookworm Mug

Bespoke China

We continue to offer a bespoke service for corporate and retail clients. There is no limit to the design ideas.

There are too many examples to describe them all.

A cake plate to celebrate a 20th wedding anniversary with customer’s feedback

‘Susan’s artwork and creativity helped make my 20th wedding anniversary the occasion I hoped it would be. My wife was so pleased with her gifts! And we now have two pieces of china that we will treasure! Can’t wait to think of a reason to come back to Susan to ask her to make something else!’

Susan has been a practice member of the Church of England all our her life. No doubt influenced by her late Father who was a vicar in the parish of Felmersham in Bedfordshire. Susan is a church warden and a member of the lay band who is often found in Badby Church on a Sunday morning leading the family service. She was very pleased to receive a commission from Lambeth Palace in 2018 to mark the visit of His Eminence Ahmed el-Tayyeb, The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif to meet Tony Blair.

Keep reading – only a couple more …

Cake Plate

Horse Racing

We continue to supply various horse racing courses with prizes and are pleased to continue working with Warwick, Exeter and Bath.

We have reached across the pond to Maryland once again and hope to continue to offer a quality produce and superb personal service.

‘Working with Susan Rose China really is a pleasure. They are incredibly organised with helping us order new stock, they are always friendly and helpful and most importantly, the quality of the product is always absolutely perfect. We would whole heartedly recommend any business to use them’

Horse Racing

Yacht Clubs

Since we first worked with the Royal Yacht Squadron we have loved producing trophies for yacht clubs and were pleased to offer our services to the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club in 2018 – just wish it had needed a personal visit to ensure quality or something. Anything in fact!


Our thanks to the British Legion who have continued to commission further mugs to expand their range of Susan Rose China in 2018 culminating with the very successful armistice mug. Susan has now done a mug design for each year of the First World War, VE Day, WWI, Falklands War, RAF100, Armistice, Members Mug with more on the way. Look out for the mugs commemorating The Navy, The Army, and The RAF and 75 years from D-Day…

And finally…

I must not forget to mention the workshop. We have been working with Andy Graham at IC Printing Ltd for several years. In 2016 we moved our workshop from Newnham and took up residence in a couple of rooms upstairs at Andy’s workshop in Longton. In October we finally took the plunge and bought his business. We continue to work together to amalgamate the two companies and mould a great team

Susan Rose China Studio

Susan Rose China the business journey

Susan Rose China has been on a journey. It all started many years ago when I left Art School and turned down a place at teacher training college (I believed I was taking the place for the wrong reasons) to become self-employed. I returned to the village where I grew up and rented a tiny little cottage on the edge of the Turvey House Estate. These were probably some of the happiest years of my life. I was completely independent and free to pursue a career in art.

Ceramics were not on my radar at the start but after working with an interior decorator, things were about to change. I was introduced to Marlborough Tiles’ London flagship shop, Sloane Square tiles who were desperately looking for hand painters. Never one to turn down an opportunity I decided to take a crash course in painting ceramics. With much scorn from a potter friend I embarked on my journey. Despite no kiln or know how I was determined to learn the skill of ceramic painting.  It is one of my greatest beliefs in life if someone else can do something so can you, you just have to learn how to do it.

With the help of a Pottery Crafts video (we didn’t have YouTube in those days) and a very sympathetic father I taught myself how to paint on ceramic tiles. My father lent me the money for my first top loading kiln. The idea was to pay him back in instalments with 10% from all subsequent orders and commissions. It turned out to be an extremely good arrangement for me and extremely poor arrangement for him. I don’t think he received more than £10 back of his original £200 investment!

I painted tiles for Sloane Square tiles until 2000 when the shop was sold. By then my interest in English bone china had been rekindled. As a child I had always loved English bone china and always used my own English bone china tea cup and saucer! It didn’t take long to transfer my new acquired ceramic painting skills from tiles to china and thus Susan Rose China was created.

I started to investigate Stoke and soon found out where to buy blank white china and started experimenting. The results were nothing to shout about but I was hooked.  With the help of a computer I found a supplier of end of line blank white china and overs from the local factories in the Longton district of Stoke. The more I painted, the more my skill and enthusiasm grew.

Around this time I was lucky to meet the highly successful and wonderful Mary Howard who invited me to exhibit at her well-known Christmas fair in Hullavington. My hand painted china was a great success. I continued selling as Susan Rose China at Hullavington and many other Christmas fairs for the next 10 years.

As the business grew I struggled to keep up with the orders. It would often be painting into the night trying to fulfil all the personalised china for all my clients. Luckily the man in my life had the same mind set as me, “if someone else can do it so can you”, so he discovered how the print makers and china makers in Stoke produced images and designs for their industry using both traditional methods but also a new digital printing process. A few weeks later he sold his much-loved classic Porsche car and invested in my little hobby business.

We moved the business into the garage space vacated by the Porsche and started to build the business. We purchased 2 digital printers and invested in our own moulds for the most used china pieces. We were able to persuade one of the factories in Longton to start making china for us and were able to stop buying end of line and overs thereby improving the quality.

It was 2008 and the orders rolled in. Despite using the printers I still couldn’t keep up. So  I took the next step and started to employ help. The first person was my very talented friend Lib, who over the next few years worked together tirelessly with me. It was Lib who wisely identified we needed help with the packing and so we employed Jackie. She was a perfect addition to our garage team. Her eagle-eye and attention to detail were outstanding. Nothing ever slipped through her china inspections.  Utterly swamped and all of us multi-tasking we all knew we didn’t have the man hours to take the business forward.

Then came Viv! The business manager and office supremo. She started licking us into shape. With many years of running a whole department at Warwick School and before that an extremely successful career selling in the pharmaceutical industry, the arrival of Viv changed the emphasis of the business from retail to corporate. Clients who thought they were buying a few mugs left having purchased enough for everyone in their entire business! The date was 2012 and significant because I started working with Andy.

It was my china maker who put me in touch with Andy. We had our first big corporate commission for a prestigious London client and digital printing  just wasn’t going “cut the mustard”.  As a skilled print maker, Andy and his small team were making lithographic prints using silk screens which were perfect for large corporate orders giving a very rich deep colour. I was later to discover just how talented Andy was when it came to decorating and painting.

Susan Rose China

In 2014 Viv attended the Business Growth Programme at Cranfield University on behalf of the Susan Rose China team and this led to an unstoppable chain of events. We started to believe and think like a business and not a hobby business. We converted the wooden garage to a new stone-built garage with an office upstairs and a workshop downstairs. We worked more closely with Andy as by now 70% of our business was corporate and only 30% retail. We had a new website. Viv or I started to go to Stoke every week. After much soul searching we realised we could no longer keep the production side in Northamptonshire and decided to move all of the production to Andy’s workshop including the digital printers. It was a sad day in 2016 when I had to say good bye to Lib and Jackie. They had been a very important and much-loved part of Susan Rose China.

With Andy running the production side of our business from his workshop it seemed obvious next stage would be to work more closely together. In 2017 we started discussing how we could do this and in October 2018 we finally signed on the dotted line. We have become Susan Rose China Ltd and have taken over the workshop business, International Ceramic Printing Ltd. Charles,

Viv and I work in the business selling and designing china from the office in Northamptonshire. Andy runs all the production from his workshop in Longton with his screen maker Alan and his daughter and lithographer Emily. We have enlarged the team with Liz joining us as an additional  lithographer. Together the 7 of us are determined to make our little business succeed for our corporate and retail customers.

Along the way we have had much help from The Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and in particular the wonderful Ron Lynch from the Institute of Directors, without whom we wouldn’t  have come this far.

Corporate Gifts

Beautiful Gifts for Corporate Clients!

When I first started work at Susan Rose China, over 6 years ago now, little did I know how the business was going to change and what my role was to be in making it work!

I came to Susan back in the Summer of 2012 as an administrator with no experience of the English bone china industry (although lots of experience in Sales and Marketing!), employed to work 16 hours per week to run her office which at that time was in one of the bedrooms in her house! Now I work out of a purpose built office and run the Corporate sales side of the business and have a full-time role and say in how the business should grow and operate – my thanks to Susan for this opportunity and for allowing me to put my stamp on this great British business and to see all our efforts rewarded in its growth.

It was really the advent of Susan’s new design back in 2012 – A Mug full of History – which marked the turning point of the business and led us to focus more on the corporate side of the business and thus the growth of Susan Rose China really began!

One of the key elements in making this corporate side work is getting to know the clients – from individuals looking for one-off pieces to commemorate important occasions such as retirements and special events to large organisations looking for something to mark a one-off occasion or one that might be going on for several years. An example of the latter is working with The Royal British Legion using Susan’s “Mug full of History” design to commemorate the events of WW1and the 100 years of the formation of The Royal Air Force; this has afforded us both the opportunity to get to know this organisation well over the last 5 years and to understand their work so much better enabling us to produce different pieces for different occasions.

Whilst this was our starting point, we now make individual gifts for many clients from Racing Trophies and prizes all over the world. You just never know where the next order is coming from! For example, we produced a set of coffee cans for an existing personal client to take with them as a gift for a friend in the USA. These were subsequently shown to the committee of the Grand National Steeplechase Association in Butler Maryland who had been looking for a replacement English bone china prize for the winner of this prestigious race and this individual personalised partnership was born. We are now on our 7th trophy for the winner of this year’s race having now caught up with the ones that were missing as they couldn’t find a supplier!

You just never know how you are going to get noticed! Earlier this year we were approached by the Race Committee of the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club to produce English bone china for the prizes to mark the running of the 70thanniversary of the race from Brisbane to Gladstone in Australia as they were looking for something different and had just found us on the internet – so no personalised introduction here! They were delighted with the resulting range of china that we were able to produce and even more impressed by the fact that it all arrived in tact and in good time for the race even though it was coming from the other side of the world!

Another key factor in getting this corporate work repeated is that we offer a fully personalised service working with just one or two people in the team with pre-production artwork sent for sign-off by committees and/or individuals. We can work from artwork produced by the client such as for The Royal Yacht Squadron for their bi-centenary celebrations and beyond to production of individual drawings by Susan such as the stand at Bath Racecourse and the silhouettes of the horses for the reverse of their prize of a Large Loving Cup and of course using the “Mug full of History” design to celebrate “Winners” such as our 1 pint tankard mugs and plates used at Warwick Racecourse.

We are very passionate about supporting local businesses and were delighted to be approached by the Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards last year to take our design and create a one-off gift for the winners of their different categories.

One of our specialities and something that we have recently come to is working with our military where we produce individual dinner services for their respective regimental Mess. Here we focus on the fact that all our china is produced completely in the U.K. from the raw material to manufacture – each piece, as with our individual personalised work to individual clients, being hand-made and decorated in Stoke-on-Trent thus supporting another great British institution.

I hope the above has given you a flavour of what we are currently creating corporately in Susan Rose China and has shown you how our skills are used not only to produce those individual orders but also those for our great institutions that go to make Britain great! Our clients enjoy our corporate gifts as they are unmatched for their artistry and quality, fashioned from the highest quality English bone china, finished with meticulous attention to detail and shipped all over the world!


Cornwall and why I just love it!

When I was a child reading was slightly problematic for me as an undiagnosed dyslexic, but as a teenager I discovered Daphne du Maurier and her stories of Cornwall. My parents had introduced me to the idea of reading Daphne du Maurier after a childhood visit to St Mawes and a trip to Fowey. I became fascinated with the history and the geography of Cornwall. As luck would have it, my future husband’s oldest and best school friend married a Cornishman and so started annual trips to the Lizard Peninsula to visit them and a very long-standing love affair unfolded with this beautiful part of the world. I can safely say we have been visiting that very unique part of the United Kingdom for 35 years – most years visiting twice a year in winter and summer.During May and June, the Lizard is unique with its verges and hedgerows full of wildflowers. As an artist and designer, I always feel inspired to capture what I see in the Cornish countryside but reality tells the difference story as I so rarely have time to indulge my love of capturing on paper the abundance of wildflowers I see. By June the surrounding countryside is also full of interesting birds and on my last visit it was a rare treat to see both Whitethroat and Linnets in the gorse. A few years ago, while walking the coastal path, not only did I see a range of Buntings, but I suddenly saw a Crow with orangey red legs and immediately realised it was a Chough. This bird has long been associated with Cornwall and its return to the Lizard is something of a celebration. Every September we make our summer pilgrimage to this beautiful countryside and spend many hours bobbing around on a boat in and around the Helford Estuary indulging with a bit of fishing and bird spotting – me with a camera and sometimes a mackerel rod and my husband trying for something slightly more than a mackerel but rarely succeeding!

We have discovered little beaches and inlets which are easily accessible by boat and not so accessible by foot.  Every beach has a different story and they are often covered with a mass of little shells.  I love shells and, inspired by my friend Annabel, I have taken an interest in trying to identify the ones I like to paint. I did manage to put together a “seaside” mug but now I feel, as my business prepares itself for future challenges, that it might be time to rethink these designs. I understand why artists want to come here to paint.  The colour and the light are extraordinary as the sea reflects such a vast amount of light even on a dull day.

The coastline peppered with its cottages, disused mines, wheel houses and small villages nestling around the sometimes green and sometimes-rocky inlets makes ideal material for many artists.  Interestingly and very obviously there is a thriving pottery and art industry here. Historically the home of the china clay which was used for generations to build another great British manufacturing industry in Stoke-on-Trent. It seems that quite a bit of Cornish pottery has found its way into my cupboards at home. Colourful, vibrant and very different to English bone china, it is a constant reminder of somewhere that feels like my second home.

Something that fills me with excitement is the re-introduction of the Red Squirrel. This year after many years of hard work the Red Squirrel is to be re-introduced to the Lizard Peninsula at Trelowarren. This charming and extremely lovable native species was once a common sight in these parts and now, after more than fifty years of absence, with a bit of help and support they are to return. The Lizard Peninsula has a unique and varied ecology which is perfect for much of our rarer wildlife and plant life.

Even though I often take work with me to Cornwall, I always find time to step away from the business to allow me to make decisions and plans for the future. I find walking and looking at a very different ecology and geography from that of Northamptonshire is extremely inspiring and, more importantly, very much part of who I am and what I do.

So long as the bittern boom, the nightjar call, the red squirrel survives, and I keep reading Daphne du Maurier there will always be a place in my heart for this beautiful unspoilt piece of England.

Gurkha china

Summer Update and time for Reflection

It seems a perfect time for a Summer Update and a period of reflection as I look back over the last few months and see how my business has grown and changed over the years. This has meant changes with my planning and preparation for the forthcoming months. Traditionally the summer months have been a quieter time for me as a designer, so this has served me well in preparation for the forthcoming Autumn and Christmas season. Many years ago when I started to think about changing my business from a hobby to a more sustainable business, the majority of the work I was commissioned to undertake was in the retail sector. I always had time to design throughout the year but none more so than during the Summer months. I admit to finding it difficult to think of Christmas at this time of year, so most of my Christmas plans are made in January when my brain might feel inspired by something I have seen over the previous few months. However, as the business grew so did the corporate side of Susan Rose China as more and more businesses approached us for personalised china. This now ranges from mugs to corporate gifts such as a Christmas bauble. Some of the corporate grew out of the retail orders with customers who had seen my work “spreading the word” to others and so over the last few years the pattern has gradually changed. Now 80% of our business is corporate and only 20% retail. Most of the retail is for personalised orders with a few popular exceptions such as the bookwork mug. When we had our first order for 100 mugs, we celebrated. Now 100 mugs is a very manageable standard small order. The last few summer weeks have been particularly busy for me as a designer. Many of our corporate clients have approached us for new ideas as well as re-makes for their original Susan Rose pieces of china. Much of these orders are around my “Mug full of History” design which depicts the history of an organisation around the side of a mug. These designs can vary in the amount of design time taken to produce the flat art work. For example, I am delighted to be making a new Mug Full of History for the Royal Engineers, which is particularly intricate and so has taken me many hours to perfect the finished piece of art work. On the other hand, my naval mug for the Royal British Legion is more straightforward. In the last 4 weeks I have designed 6 new Mug of History designs. We have had 6 re-orders with existing clients. On the retail side there has been an influx of bespoke work. This is around one-off pieces, so for example drawing houses and wedding venues. To draw a house as a one-off piece for a specific pieces of china might take 4 or 5 hours in total which will include time at the computer. We are busy with Christmas baubles, dinner services and commemorative china for the Engineers and The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to name but a few. As a small business owner I am always multi-tasking, for example there is the social media to manage, make videos, trying to constantly engage with people to explain about our brand any why we believe in Stoke and the English bone china they produce in the handful of remaining factories is of such high quality. It might be more expensive to buy British rather than cheaper imported china, but we believe it is a better and more niche product.

So this Summer, August is already shaping up to be another busy month as our Armistice mug goes on sale for the Royal British Legion and more corporate orders come in from across the world. From a marketing perspective there are some fun days marked out for those who are engaging on social media such as World Book Lover’s Day or National Dog Day. All perfect for social media engagement for those who are interested in me as the personality behind my brand. As a member of the Council for the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce I spent time at one of their highly informative meetings and a few weeks prior to that I was involved with the Friends of The Scott Polar Annual Tribute Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society. All of these things are part of who I am and what we at Susan Rose China represent. Every week I spend time in Stoke working closely with my print maker Andy and his team and every week I spend in the factories watching, learning and understanding why Stoke has so much to offer. I am so proud to produce something truly British and hopefully those of you who buy a piece of our china will realise that every piece has a story to tell from the clay to our customers.
Follow this link, if you would like to find out more about The Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and how it helps the many thriving businesses in Staffordshire

Pea Cappuccino Cup

Dinner Services always make space at the table

Many years ago I started collecting the first of many dinner services. I was barely out of school but I had fallen in love with a Wedgwood design “Kutani Crane” and thus it started – my collection with one plate designed with 2 cranes, some foliage and bamboo!  By the time I was married 10 years later, I was able to complete my wedding china with this design which was lucky because the crane is associated with longevity, good fortune and prosperity. Then like so many others I decided my 1970’s design was rather dated and not at all what I would have chosen if I was starting again. It sat barely used, hidden in the cupboard and brought out at Christmas and for other auspicious occasions with lots of apologies from me for choosing such a “busy” design. As the years progressed and I became more and more involved in Stoke-on-Trent, I came to realise the beauty of this dinner service. Like all English bone china it was strong and durable. It had no gold and I was able to place it in the dish washer. Lucky me! I started to realise it was a thing of beauty and its 1970’s slightly “dated feel” was rather beautiful. I started to use it again and even began adding to it.

I realised that when couples marry they still have a need for wedding china. Over the last few years,  I have been asked to design and create many English bone china dinner services for newly weds and couples setting up homes together. The only difference is that these couples want something they can use every day which reflects their life style.  They don’t want anything as busy or as ornate as a classic Wedgwood dinner service.  In fact quite a few of these dinner services have been based on my black and white drawings reflecting the simplicity and sophistication which is modern living. Many families don’t want formal dining but eat around a kitchen table. Cooking and more informal entertaining is definitely the preferred choice, so our china seems to be the answer for those wanting a more contemporary feel to the whole dining experience.

Of course the good thing about designing a dinner service for a specific couple, is that each one is completely unique and reflects not only their life style but also their interests. When I was asked to design a service for a successful chef and his new wife, I was able to put something together around his culinary interests and her love of flowers. The result was a mixture of simple pencil drawings using sage and peonies. The simplicity and softness of the graphite gave the service a modern clean feel and, like everything we design, the images are kept on the computer so they are easy to reproduce when the service needs increasing. When I asked my son if he would like a dinner service for his new flat, he chose something from my library – my bees! My friend who loves pigs commissioned china with different rare breed pigs around the edges. This time I used a series of water colours and again much of this work was from my extensive library. Of course this china is bright and colourful compared to the pencil drawings, but is just as durable and extremely eye catching. A few years ago I was commissioned by the organisers of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, to design the china for use in the Royal box to mark the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations at Windsor Castle.  What a great commission and something we are  very proud to have made as these plates colourfully reflect The Queen’s love of her Country and Commonwealth. For my own every day china, I chose a vintage lime design which has had a long association with my husband’s family. Most days it goes happily into the dishwasher and still looks as good as when it was first produced many years ago.

Over the next few months as we build our webpage for dinner services, I feel very proud that we are using English bone china manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent. All my china is made in Longton, an area of Stoke famed for its bone china making. Now there is just one remaining manufacturer of English bone china flatware suitable for dinner services and we are using them.  My printmaker is able to reproduce with skill and accuracy my designs using his traditional silk screening methods before decorating each piece by hand.  Soon our website will be able to offer an extensive range of dinner services,  from the military mess to a wedding present, from the formal dinner to a kitchen supper. If you would like to know how we can help you with your choice of designs or china, please don’t hesitate to contact us, so you too can start collecting something that made Stoke-on-Trent world famous.

Bookworm Mug

For the love of a bookworm

As a child I loved books, especially old books. I loved the feel and the smell of old paper and I have always found great joy in opening a book and feeling the print on the paper. All books have a particular smell and to this day I still do my “book check”, which is to feel the paper and smell between the leaves. My mother was a teacher and we had plenty of books at home, so it wasn’t difficult to start a collection on my little bookshelf in my bedroom. When I was 10, I saved up all my pocket money to buy my first hardback book, Birds in colour by Bruce Campbell at the great cost of 25 shillings. I still remember the excitement of going to the old-fashioned book shop in Bath and spending every penny I had saved. To this day that book is still used and it is just as precious to me now as it was then. There was only one problem with my book collection and that was my poor ability to read until the age of  7, but what no one realised, was the fact I was dyslexic, and it wasn’t until I discovered a new way to read that I was able to unlock the secret key to an enquiring brain. With my trusted little torch, I was now able to read all my Mallory Towers Books under the bedclothes with no one telling me to put the light out!

My next breakthrough was finding a book in the school library about a family of 5 girls and their brother who lived in a Yorkshire Parsonage with their father, aunt and a maid. I found the story fascinating and couldn’t stop reading about this extraordinary family. Of course, this was the story of the Bronte’s and it was another breakthrough moment in my life. I can still remember where I was sitting when I found that book and feeling the heartbreak of reading their story when learning about the death of the two older sisters. A few years later I visited the parsonage at Haworth and as a consequence I read everything about the Bronte’s from all their books to their biographies.

Therefore, many years later when my book shelves were utterly full of antiquarian books to modern day classics, it was entirely in keeping for me to design a piece of china around authors and my beloved book collection. I wanted to design something different and original, so I started making a design using my favourite classic authors and encouraged by my sister, the writer Barbara Claypole White, I was able to think of how the design would work around one of our English bone china mugs.  However, as the design developed I realised it would be mean more to me to build the design around my love of those three Bronte sisters and what they achieved as women. So, in essence the Bookworm mug design evolved as something to reflect the writing of Classic British authors through the centuries.  I soon realised there was a problem because there was simply not enough room for all the authors. The design started on paper, but friends kept making suggestions of more classic female authors, until eventually I had to finish the design on the computer as I ran out of space for all the extra authors. Why had no one told me about women like Aphra Behn before now? Was I simply not listening in class or was it more because women didn’t have the recognition they deserved? Were these things not thought of as important when I was growing up?

The book worm design made me realise I had only scratched the surface with my reading. I think the gift of education and reading through the use of books is the most valuable gift we give our children. To have knowledge and understanding makes us what we are and helps us appreciate other people’s lives from a different perspective. I’m told a book will become a thing of the past, but as someone who loves to embrace technology I believe there is still a place for a book shelf and there will always be a room for that treasure, a beautiful book. My book shelves are now full but there is nothing like giving a present of a book! I did send some of my slightly more dubious paperbacks to the charity shop, but my best and most loved books are my most prized possessions and greatly loved. I still refer to my best and most loved books from that first bird book to my most valued copy of Testament of Youth.

I hope you enjoy books as much as I do and if you have a book worm mug or tea pot, I hope you might your favourite classic author somewhere in this book worm design. So thank you to my friends and family who inspired this design and thank you all for giving me many more books to read and enjoy.

A post shared by Susan Rose (@susanrosechina) on

Bone China Flowers

The lost art of English bone china flower making

A few months ago while visiting the The Gladstone Pottery  I saw something that inspired me to put pen to paper to write about the lost art of English bone china flower making.  It is unusual for me to have any spare time when working in Stoke-on-Trent, but this day was different and I spare time on my hands between meeting china makers, so I took myself off to look round this wonderful and informative museum. In walking distance from all my china makers, this museum has been telling the story of English bone china making since 1970s. During my visit, something caught my eye – it was a woman making flowers from English bone china clay. Flower making was not something I knew much about, except in Longton there had been a history of making flowers for the English bone china industry.

Most days in the Gladstone Pottery Museum, 2 women still demonstrate the skill of flower making and indeed the museum runs classes for interested people like me, but commercially there seems no one or no business to pass on this lost art.

Stoke is made up of 6 towns each known for their own particular skill in the pottery industry. The area where I am based, Longton, has long been associated with making bone china. Factories such as Adderley Floral only made flowers and bigger companies such as Wedgwood and Royal Doulton commissioned flowers and figurines from the Longton factories and eventually they bought some of these factories. For example Adderley Floral employed 84 women and three times a year they would take on 6 – 8 apprentices. It took 2 years to train an apprentice and eventually 6 would be kept on as permanent members of staff.

Each girl was taught just one skill. No one was trained with multiple skills as this would have slowed the process down. The flower makers wouldn’t paint and decorate and the decorators wouldn’t make the flowers. Each flower was made individually and there were patterns for approximately 60 different flowers. The flower makers needed to be quick and often were paid “peacemeal”.

By the 1990s there were very few of these skilled workers left as bone china flowers fell out of fashion.Adderley Floral closed it’s doors in 1988, but the building is still there in Sutherland Road with the sign above the door.

At this biscuit stage, the bone china flowers are very delicate and need to be dried and hardened off before being placed in a kiln and fired up to 1250 degrees. We air dried our flowers but the factories would have used an industrial dryer. Once dried, the flowers would have then been dipped and glazed. Each factory had its own recipe for their unique glaze and this was a guarded secret. No two factories every produced the same looking flowers. The flowers would then have either been painted by hand or very lightly air brushed with a colour. Sometimes colour was put in to the clay at the beginning of the process, so these flowers are not shiny but appear very matt in appearance but with a softer colour.

If you are interested in this skill why not follow this link to find out how you can be involved or find out more.

Flower Making

Flower Making in Stoke

Rita has been making bone china flowers for over 40 years and here she is demonstrating this lost art of flower making to a group at the Gladstone Pottery Museum. This once world famous skill has sadly fallen out of fashion over the last 30 years.

I've spent the morning at the fantastic Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent learning the lost art of flower making. Longton was famous for its bone china makers and made beautiful intricate bone china flowers for much of the industry. It took many years of training to become a skilled flower maker and here is Rita demonstrating making a flower. She makes it look so easy, but it was one of the most difficult things I had ever done. Let's hope the blog I'm planning is slightly easier! The museum often runs courses so if you're interested why not look at their website?#feelingcreative

Posted by Susan Rose China on Saturday, 13 January 2018