Before Jo Davda was a potter she was a painter, but after ten years of creating purely aesthetic pieces she felt the need to produce something functional.
She began by making moulds from whatever she could lay her hands on – sheep troughs found in a farmer’s shed to oddly shaped food containers and vintage vessels. She enjoyed this new process – of mixing fluids that hardened and that could be embellished. Over five years she experimented with shape and colour, continually paring down. When she had achieved the pure form she was looking for, Brickett Davda was born.
All Brickett Davda pieces are made with English clay from Stoke-on-Trent. They are either slip cast (with liquid clay poured into moulds) or pressed. The pressed pieces start as balls of clay. The clay is then rolled out flat and fitted into a mould, just as you would do with pastry for a pie. A kidney (a small rubber tool shaped like a kidney) is used to push the clay into the edges.
Once the clay has dried the slip is painted on by hand. The slip colours that Jo has created reflect a very English palette – dirty city greys mixing with coastal greens and blues. Anything can inspire – from the terracotta warmth of a brick wall to the dull, slate-y hue of a pavement. Being painted on by hand no two shades will ever be exactly alike and yet these small and subtle differences lend the tableware a varied beauty and there is something lovely and painterly about the visible presence of brush strokes in the finished piece.
When the final slip coat has dried the pieces are hand finished – the rough edges sanded down, the surfaces smoothed. They are then put in the kilns (large, round beasts of kilns) for biscuit firing, dipped in glaze (the glaze must be exactly the right thickness) and re-fired. It is the high temperature firing that gives this fine, light tableware its strength.
Each of Jo’s earthenware pieces is designed to be used everyday. The hope is that a shape might become familiar to a hand and that the individual pieces become a small family – mixed and matched in colour and size.
It is a true skill to create such soft, organic shapes and a privilege to work with a ceramicist who is so dedicated to their craft.
At TOAST we have been drinking tea and eating our lunches from Brickett Davda tableware for many years – it is still a pleasure.