Monday, 16 September 2013

The Rose Garden - Making the Ceramic Rose with Rita Floyd

The centrepiece of The Rose Garden project, the thing that embodies the project, referencing both the ceramic context and looking to the future for the City of Stoke-on-Trent and the ceramic industry, is a beautiful hand made ceramic rose. The ceramic rose, sculpted in the form of a real rose which we are working to bring to market in 2015, will sit inside a  glass cloche, atop the plinth which grew out of the circular flower bed last week.

Rita Floyd
Adderley Floral
Making our ceramic rose, is master flower maker, Rita Floyd. Rita has been making ceramic flowers since the early 1970's when she left school at the age of 15 to go straight in to an apprenticeship at Longton pottery firm Adderleys.

1922 map showing the Daisy Bank Works on Spring Garden Road
Adderley's today

Bricks and tiles had been produced at the Daisy Bank Works in Longton since the 1850's  and by the 1870's, under the name of William Adderley, China and Earthenware was successfully produced right through to the late 20th Century, by which time the Adderley name was being carried on by the new parent company Ridgway Potteries. The Daisy Bank Works, renamed Gainsborough in the 1950's, ceased to operate in 1998 and now has been transformed into a private cemetery and garden of remembrance.

An example of Rita's flower work
Talking to Rita while she was making our rose this week, it became clear how central the City's pottery firms were to its social fabric. In 1972, at the age of 15, Rita could confidently leave school and go straight in to a 2 year apprenticeship with Adderley's, along with 6 other school leavers. There were 3 intakes of school leavers each year, who would join the existing staff of 80 flower makers, who had been making floral ware at Adderley Floral since the 1940's.

Rita had to learn her craft quickly. Full time work followed the end of her 2 year apprenticeship where she was paid, aon a piecerate basis. This meant working quickly but to a high standard to ensure she earned the maximum possible amount.

In 1974, Rita was paid by the dozen flowers - 8 petals per flower - 6 new pence per dozen. A dozen flowers took Rita 15 minutes to make.

Fast forward to 2013, and flower-making for Rita has changed. Following the closure of Adderley's,
after which the 80 flower makers of the 70's had dwindled to 9 by 2005, and a period working piece-rate from home for Coalport, Rita has been a demonstrator of her craft at Gladstone's Pottery Museum.

Now working a 4 day salaried working week,  as part of a wide-ranging demonstration of ceramic processes. Members of the public spend a day watching, and having a go, and getting to take their works home at the end of the day.

On top of this, Rita, along with colleague Jeanette Seabridge, worked for the British Ceramics Biennial in making the flowers
which adorned the bespoke brickware which made up such a prominent part of Stoke-on-Trent's Transformation garden - a silver-medal-winning garden at
the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show. For Rita, there is a bit of a release in her current work. Her job as demonstrator and works with the BCB, and now AirSpace allows her a bit of license and creativity. Rita told me that she loved her job at Adderleys, working as one of 80 flower-makers. The hard work was offset by an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie which saw

Adderley Floral dubbed "Butlins" by the Workforce.
But the piece-rate work of Adderleys and Coalport allowed no creative license - the flowers had to be made to a strict design, with a repetetive, monotonous exactness, and she admits to having felt a stifling of creativity.

Today, you can really get the sense that Rita is enjoying the chance to create, with the ability to think for herself and add her own touches.

We're really happy that Rita is making our Ceramic Spode China Rose - she personifies our approach to the project - a quintissential part of the City's industrial past, and now through application of time-served skills, with a role in its creative future.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the information, I think that your perspective is deep, its just well thought out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts down so well.
Red Lead Manufacturers India

Unknown said...

So beautiful
I like it and will make them

Unknown said...

Hi, This is a great page about Rita Floyd. I was lucky enough to meet her at BCB 2017 in the disused Spode Factory, where she was making flowers as part of the Factory installation/artwork. I am writing up my visit for college and hope it will be ok to use some of the pictures from this page, particularly the example of floral work. I'd like to acknowledge the source of the information, would you be kind enough to let me know who took the pictures and wrote the text? Thanks,
Sue Ferner (studying BA hons Creative Media & Visual Communications, The Manchester College, Northenden Campus)

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