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!

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.

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We will Remember Mugs

We will Remember

When I was a child, I vividly remember going to the War Memorial in my village of Turvey on Remembrance Sunday.  My overriding memory is of 2 parades – one with very old men and one with not so old men!  As the years went on the old men became fewer until there were none with their places being taken by the not so old men who of course themselves are now the old men! I remember standing in awe as I watched these veterans of the First World War who commanded such respect in the village. These seemingly ordinary men had led extraordinary lives which we knew little about. They had witnessed life changing world events which changed the course of history.

When I was 20, my interest with these historical events led me to read  Vera Britten’s Testament of Youth, which changed my understanding of what happened to a lost generation of young men and women in those utterly devastating years of the First World War. Testament of Youth is still one of my most loved and treasured books. This fascination with social and military history has never left me and so when the opportunity came to work with The Royal British Legion I couldn’t wait to share my ideas for designing something truly unique to help raise awareness of key historical events of the First World War to a new generation. When we went to meet the team at The Poppy Shop we were particularly pleased with our idea reflecting the time-honoured line “We will Remember them” from the poem, For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon.  However, to my great excitement they suggested a series of mugs reflecting the historical events for each year of The Great War. I could look in more detail at these events, some of which I thought I understood and others I quickly realised I knew little about.

I was proud to think our mugs would tell the story of the First World War. I knew that many generations ago, men and women who worked in the potteries would also have been affected by these events and so it seemed entirely appropriate that a piece of china, made in the same way 100 years ago, should now tell of those heart-breaking events. Our first mug for 1914 starts with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and the creation of the Western Front culminating in the First Battle of Ypres. The mug representing 1915 is based around the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields”.  In the base of each mug we have placed the British Legion poppy which has become the overriding symbol associated with this conflict and all others since, symbolising the Act of Remembrance for all those who gave their lives.  This Poppy is known as the 11.00am Poppy because the leaf is always at 11.00am symbolising the time, day and month when armistice was declared. 1916 saw the first tank used in combat and the defining naval battle at Jutland.  It also saw the start of the Battle of the Somme – one of the bloodiest battles of this Great War and saw a huge loss of life for little or no gain. This was seen as such an important battle that we were asked to design a separate “Mug full of History” to mark the centenary of The Battle for the Somme in 2016.The Americans joined the war effort in 1917 and the year is also remembered for the horses and tanks who fought side by side in the battle at Cambrai.  2017 marks the centenary of the end of the bloody Battle of Passchendaele.  As for the Somme, we were honoured to design another dedicated mug to mark this horrendous battle scarred by its appalling loss of life and the dreadful conditions in the trenches brought on by the constant rain and poor weather. The final year of this conflict, 1918, is famous for the formation of the RAF from The Royal Flying Corps & The Royal Naval Air Service and of course the declaration of the Armistice at 11am on 11th November.

The poppy has a long association with this day. After the conflict had finished and the battlefields were left empty and barren, the only flower that grew was the poppy. So many had died that the ground became rich in nitrogen and the poppy thrived. Sometimes known as Poppy Day, Remembrance Day has been observed throughout the Commonwealth to remember all those members of their armed forces who gave their lives so might live in a better world. Every poppy sold helps the charitable work of The Royal British Legion who seeks to help all members of the armed forces past and present, their families and dependants. In our village, we have a history of knitting and making poppies to sell alongside the paper poppies to help raise further funds for the British Legion.We are proud for our continuing work with the Royal British Legion because there are so many more stories to tell from VE Day, The Falklands War and the centenary of the RAF. At Susan Rose China, we will all be wearing our poppies with pride this November.


You might want to find out about defining historical conflicts which shaped our history by visiting

Shackleton Mugs

For the love of Shackleton and the Scott Polar Research Institute

6 years ago I had an idea to decorate a mug using a story. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to describe the history of an organisation on the side of a mug? The thought that an English bone china mug also has a story and a place in history seemed to make a perfect combination for a new idea, and so a Mug full of History was born.

Since childhood, I have always been fascinated by history. I would have loved to read history at university but for an undiagnosed dyslexic child, this was never going to happen. So as academic studies became more challenging I developed a talent for design and art but my love of history and an interest in leadership never left me. Leadership in history is particularly interesting. For example, what made Sir Ernest Shackleton such a good leader? When I was growing up Scott had all the attention and no one seemed so interested in Shackleton, but I have always had an interest in the underdog. Who was this man, Sir Ernest Shackleton, who had failed to reach the pole?  Very slowly over many years, I developed a fascination and an interest with this extraordinary leader of men. So of course when I had the idea of designing the first “Mug full of History” I became totally focused on the fact that the very first one was to be around my great polar hero, the very great man himself “The Boss”, Sir Ernest Shackleton.

So excited was I to be drawing and designing the mug, that I totally overlooked the fact we were coming up to the centenary of the famous Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 2014! Shackleton with his second in command Frank Wild with a further 27 hand-picked men, plus one stowaway, 69 dogs and a ship’s cat called Mr Chippy, set sail on the ill-fated Endurance. How would I manage to squeeze all the relevant information onto a mug, and what about a few drawings too? For those of you who know me, you will also know that I always believe all things are possible and I don’t understand the word NO and I certainly do not like the words “but we can’t do that”. However, I managed an initial design and made a sample mug complete with a typical dyslexic spelling mistake, which I duly sent to to the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge and better known as SPRI to The Friends. A few weeks later, to my great excitement, I found myself sitting in front of the curator of the museum explaining why I loved Shackleton and why it would be a great idea to have a mug to celebrate the centenary (which I suddenly realised had been a very lucky historical gift for a designer). Three hours later I was still at the museum, now in the Friends’ tea room having coffee, still discussing Scott and Shackleton. A bit later I met the secretary of the Friends of the Scott Polar Institute, Celene Pickard, committee member Angie Butler and thus started my association with this great institution. Within 12 months I was invited to be part of The Friends committee and of course this I readily accepted. We produced the Shackleton mug with a few amendments suitable for the centenary celebrations together with a dinner service. We are still producing this mug for the museum as we originally designed it. Now we plan to make a second design for Captain Scott.

The Scott Polar Research Institute was founded in 1920 in memory of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Scott himself was aware of the great importance of the role of science in the polar regions so it is a fitting tribute to this great man that the institute’s archives has one of the largest collections in the world of published and unpublished material relating to the polar regions. This covers anything from science and the environment to the history of the polar regions. The polar library has the reputation of being the best in the world. At first it was rather daunting, sitting on a committee and being part of such a well respected academic institution, but I soon realised the importance of increasing our membership to a new generation, to all those who care about climate change, preserving our environment and celebrating the polar regions. I believe we can and must reach out to new members.

Last year I attended the first Annual Polar Tribute Lecture organised by the friends of SPRI, which was dedicated to the memory of the great and charismatic Henry Worsley. In the audience were children who had been following their hero’s progress across Antarctica. During the evening it was clear that their lives had been changed, young leaders in the making who now had a passion for the polar regions, all because of Henry Worsley. Only a few weeks ago I sat in a packed audience at The Royal Geographical Society in London, listening to another inspirational polar explorer, Ben Saunders, who is about to walk in the same footsteps as Henry Worsley to complete the first solo expedition across Antarctica. Interestingly I was one of the older people in the audience! In a few weeks the Ice Maidens, the first all-female team, will endeavour to cross Antarctica unaided via the South Pole. So what next?

Why not join us at the FoSPRI and make a difference to our polar regions? By showing an interest and thus keeping the importance of science and the environment on everyone’s agenda and in the forefront of people’s minds, I believe we can all make a difference. I also believe as someone who has her own business, leadership in adversity is an important part of life and so often we overlook its importance. So thank you Sir Ernest for changing my life, inspiring me and making me believe in something bigger and better for the world we live in.

Click on this link to buy a shackleton mug

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Pencil Drawing Mugs

Pencil Drawings and my love of Wildlife

I grew up in rural Bedfordshire, in the beautiful vibrant and historic village of Turvey surrounded by unspoilt Ouse Valley countryside.

As a child, I used to take endless walks or ride my beloved Welsh mountain pony, Peewit, into the surrounding fields looking for anything from wild flowers to birds. I became obsessed with recording what I saw, from pressing flowers to photographing birds. My Father and his Great Grandfather were extremely keen on their photography and I too inherited this love at an early age. It was photography which helped me to develop my painting and I also kept a sketch book of things I felt were important enough to record. From this, it was a very small step to develop an image library of flowers and plants that I would be able to use for my English bone china designs.

I have always found a fascination in the way images in nature repeat to make patterns. When I was 16 my parents bought me a very small box of watercolours, over the intervening years it has travelled with me to various parts of the world and I still use it to this day. My only sadness is that I don’t have more time to paint and create. So often when you have your own business there are so many other things to do…such as writing a blog!

I love using pen and ink and for many of the years spent in the school art room, my coloured inks and pens were my preferred choice. However, somewhere in this obsessive nature journey I discovered drawing, probably helped by 2 wonderful art teachers; one was pedantic about painting and the other drawing with pencils. I learnt to love pencils and drawing small images full of detail. I keep a set of pencils in a box from art school, hidden in my plan chest.

No one is allowed to use or share these much-loved tools of the trade and no one is allowed to touch my special heavy weight drawing paper purchased from the wonderful Cornelissen’s of London.

Years later while looking back through my portfolio, a very clever friend saw two pencil drawings of a hare and an artichoke. Both of these drawings I had completed while studying graphics at the Central School of Art and Design in London, but she immediately suggested both drawings would work well on English bone china. Although they had been in my portfolio for nearly 30 years, they appeared clean and contemporary.

The artichoke has appeared on several classical dinner service designs. Now as I update my website, both these images will still play an important role in the development of Susan Rose China. I can still remember exactly where I sat to draw both the hare and the artichoke.

When I started Susan Rose China I decided to add to the collection. Next came the fox and the stag. Lastly my beloved red squirrel and the leaping salmon.

The wonderful thing about having your own business is the work never stops. One idea leads to another and the development of new ranges.

My work, my designs and the website are always “work in progress”, adaptable and changeable, but always I hope, a reflection of some very much loved iconic British flora and fauna.

Gin Day

Gin Day

Earlier this year, inspired by my love of gin, I made a personalised English bone china mug for my gin loving friend , Christina, at Green Umbrella. Let the evening be GIN.  It seemed a good design and provoked much comment amongst fellow believers and none more so than my sister, the talented American author Barbara Claypole White. So what could be better when your sister comes to visit from North Carolina but to take her on a visit to the award-winning local gin distillery, Warner Edwards at Harrington, Northamptonshire. I am fascinated by “craft” manufacturing and I did find several striking similarities between the English bone china business and craft gin production. Warner Edwards have developed a unique brand selling a truly British product reflecting their ethos of producing the “best gin”.  I can resonate with this as I am producing a truly British premium product which has a history stretching back over the centuries. Like Warner Edwards, I am building a British brand synonymous with quality. I love the fact Warner Edwards are so passionate and focused about their gin and yes, it is totally delicious and extremely drinkable! They deserve their new found success as highly skilled craft gin makers.

The brilliant Curiosity still at Warner Edwards Distillery

Posted by Susan Rose China on Wednesday, 7 June 2017

For us the tour started in the garden of botanicals, with a much needed gin after a rather stressful start to the evening, which involved a drain cover and two burst tyres. However, my elderflower gin and tonic and Barbara’s sloe gin with ice soon revived both artist and author! The garden was relaxing and beautiful, full of all the botanicals except for the secret ingredient which helps to make their gin unique. After we had listened to a brief history of the farm we were taken to meet the star attraction of the evening, “Curiosity”. To me this was the most interesting part of the tour. This German still was the epitome of outstanding craftsmanship and engineering skill with its beaten copper still and hand riveted joints. I watched the elderflowers turning round and round in the still, all handpicked earlier in the day from nearby hedgerows. It was vaguely reminiscent of watching the slip in the Stoke factories, being mixed in the giant vats before being poured into the moulds to make the china. Curiosity’s giant chimney with its separate chambers towered up into the ceiling like a cathedral spire. Graded temperature control is very important to the smoothness of the end product in gin making,  just like firing china!

I learnt so much about the making and the history of gin. I never realised London gin was a process. Rather naively I had believed it was because most 18th century gin had originated from London! A bit like English bone china whose recipe originated from the Bow Pottery which was next to an East End abattoir. The recipe was then refined or perhaps some might say “distilled” by Josiah Spode to the recipe it is today.

For those who were not driving, we tasted 4 gins which were “slipping down quite nicely”. I have to admit to being a committed fan of all of them –  rhubarb, elderflower, London and sloe. The London is still my favourite. I was very pleased to hear Warner Edwards say gin might taste equally good in a china mug.

Two new gins have been developed – the honey bee and botanical garden gin. I’m looking forward to tasting these and feel quite sad I didn’t see their team making gin at Chelsea with their smaller still “Satisfaction”. It’s so important to engage with people about your business and give it a good “shout out”. After all good publicity clearly works because we’re all talking about this great local business. To quote an expression from my very much loved and missed father in law, Tom, who gave me my first ever proper gin and tonic “Here’s steam in all your boilers” and from this china maker to all you gin lovers do go to the Warner Edwards tour and enjoy drinking gin on National Gin Day.



It’s official, spring has arrived.

The days are drawing out, the lambs are in the fields, the birds are singing and we, at Susan Rose China, have turned our thoughts to spring designs and the garden.

Susan says she always knows it’s the beginning of spring when the snowdrops have finished flowering and she takes time to divide the clumps and plant the new clumps  into the wild places in her garden.

Susan has always loved British flora and fauna and for many years has recorded her wild flowers in various sketch books. Over time these sketches and watercolours have evolved into designs for our English bone china, but in doing new designs with spring flowers we discovered so much more about the history and traditions of these flowers. Her favourite medium is vellum and there was nothing as exciting as visiting William Cowley, The Vellum factory in Newport Pagnell, which was near her childhood home in Bedfordshire.

We did a poll amongst the team and the most popular piece of china reflecting spring is our 2pt jug called ‘A Jug Full of Secrets’. Susan did the original watercolour painting for this jug on paper inherited from a deceased aunt who was a well-known children’s book illustrator (more on this in a future blog…). The jug is personalised but also shows a selection of spring flowers and the sentiments they convey, sometimes called ‘Floriography’.

For thousands of years’ plants have been recognised for their medicinal properties and their perfume, but it wasn’t until the Victorian age that floriography took on a greater significance. Flowers had their own language and could say what was not dared to be spoken. The Victorians would like to give gifts called ‘Tussie-Mussies’ which were small bouquets of flowers wrapped in a lace doily and tied with satin ribbon. The secret message the flowers conveyed was an intriguing puzzle for the recipient. This is why we like to add names and secret words into our designs. For example the jug full of Secrets has a name of choice added into the lettering. Originally all hand drawn by Susan on to paper, but now the words are drawn with the help of an electronic sketch book, a Wacom pad. So now it is really is a jug full of secrets with these hidden words.

When Queen Victoria married she had myrtle in her wedding bouquet signifying love and the emblem of marriage. When Kate Middleton married Prince William, she too had the language of flowers very much in mind. Kate’s bouquet consisted of myrtle taken from the same plant as that in Queen Victoria’s bouquet and Lily of the Valley signifying happiness, sweetness and chastity. On our jug we have snowdrops forhope, daisies for innocence, bluebells for humility, violets for modesty and primroses for young love and we compliment it with a mug in the same design.

Our feature page shows other designs with a spring feel. We have a spring flowers mug complimenting our seasonal plate, a personalised hellebore design and a personalised violet heart wrap, all on our new signature mug which we had made especially for us in Stoke only 6 months ago. All these flowers are from Susan’s garden or the nearby countryside. Of course at one time the hedgerows and meadows would have been full of these much loved flowers, but now we have to look hard to find these beautiful flowers.

Not forgetting the fauna, so necessary for the pollination of our spring flowers, we have new personalised bee and butterfly designs too. Over the years Susan has recorded and painted some of the butterflies from her garden and tried to plant flowers to encourage more butterflies. Her love of painting bumble bees started at art college when she used to make little gifts of watercolour bees for her friends!

Take a look and when we say #Sayitwithchina, with our floral designs, we mean it quite literally.

Developing A New Mug

Developing the new mug

The new mug is really developing very well. It is extremely exciting to be designing a piece of china from scratch! The making and designing of china has remained unchanged for generations. The mug we are producing is based on an old estate mug from Trelowarren in Cornwall. The original mug is not English bone china but earthenware. Sadly there are very few of the original mugs left, so to recreate this lovely smallish sized coffee mug in English bone china quite an achievement.

I only know of one model maker in Stoke (I suspect there are a few left)and he is overwhelmed by work.  It is a sad inditement that the china industry in Stoke on Trent is flourishing, but through years of decline we are loosing the skill set and knowledge from craftsmen such as our model makers, mould makers and china makers which make this industry so unique and quintessentially British. Today there only about 50 china makers left in Stoke – 50 years ago there were approximately 200.

We have made a block for the mug, but the handle is still slightly too thick and heavy. So now we are thinning the handle to ensure when the finished mugs are fired the handle remains solid and not hollow. I like my china to be made from one mould. So the handle is what the industry refer to as  “cast on”. China made abroad nearly always has a stuck on handle!  The traditional way to make china is from a three part plaster mould, which luckily for my china maker, we both love!

When we are all happy with the handle, the model maker will take this to the china maker for discussion to make sure he is happy with the finished shape prior to firing a sample. Every piece of china is made by a skilled craftsmen and no two pieces ever fire in the same way. Finally when everyone is satisfied that the mug will fire well, the model maker will make a case mould for the new shape. From this we will be able to make a few samples. The china maker fires these samples with a critical eye to see how they fire – do we need to make any adjustments or do they need to make adjustments when they fire? The caster, who fills the mould with slip will have his own way of making each piece of china. If the china maker is happy with the finished piece of china and only then, does the model maker make a master mould, the “block and case”. This will belong to Susan Rose China and can’t be used by anyone but us!  The model maker sends the block and case to the mould maker and from this he will make a number of moulds depending on how many mugs we decide to manufacture. Each 3 part plaster mould is used approximately 30 times before we repeat the process with the mould maker and make new moulds. So we will probably make 30 moulds to start our production of the new mug.

Stoke on Trent is a fascinating city, steeped in history and so much part of our national identity. Where would we be without these great cities who helped put “Great” Britain on the map?  We owe a huge debt to people such as the model makers Tim Perks and Andrew Henshall, Simon the mould maker from Ceramic 77 and Topaz the china maker. They are some of the few who are quietly keeping our great industrial heritage on the map.