Our philosophy of painting

Every single piece of Porches Pottery is painted by hand. We do not use sponges, stencils, or transfers in decorating our pottery.  No shortcuts are taken and no corner is cut, because it is the energy contained within a freely painted mark that imbues our ceramics with their character. We eschew anything that might hamper this communication between the painter and the pot.
Juliet Swift painting the famous Bird Bites Fish motif

It takes many, many years to develop the free, confident, light-flowing hand that all of our painters have, and only the most talented painters can ever really aspire to the point of creating the elaborate, novel designs that you will find shining down on you from the pottery's walls. It is a combination of skills and critically talent that allows for this.

Painted wares awaiting the kiln

We use simple, soft brushes and paint directly onto the un-fired glaze using metal oxides suspended in water. Different metal oxides possess different colour properties: manganese is pink and copper is green, though the most famous must be cobalt which is blue - but interestingly before firing cobalt blue is not the vigorous blue we know, but a soft lilac colour. This presents an added challenge to the artist working with it. 

Painting with cobalt blue is tricky

The glaze has the character of powdered sugar and is very absorbent, sucking the moisture from the brushes, much as you would find in painting a fresco. This demands a deft confidence on the part of the decorator who must stride forward in the work. So, we do not acknowledge ‘mistakes’ in the painting. This way of thinking is inherently unhelpful to the free flow and inhibits the energy required to paint successfully. Unintended marks, like a dribble, splatter or a splash, even an errant line cannot be corrected and thus must be considered to be evidence of the humanity in the process and embraced. It is a liberating technique once embraced, but can be extremely frustrating to those trained in other types of painting where revision and precision are possible.

Manuela Gonçalves painting the Rambling Rose design

We work with a variety of different floral designs that each painter will adapt using their intuition to each individual shape in their own way. Some painters will favour one or two patterns over others, those that fit their intuition better. These patterns are our own, some have emerged from an in depth study of ancient pottery and others evolve from an imaginative interpretation of local indigenous flowers. And we regularly stray from these patterns, experimenting with new colour arrangements, playing with scale, or combining various elements to create new ideas.

Sadly, a website cannot truly capture this abundance of variety, it can be only truly be appreciated by visiting us in person. You will see both the painters painting and their finished pieces all together in the same space.

A dinner service in the Primavera design