Made in Spode


It was on a magazine shoot at the former Spode factory that photographer and artist Katya de Grunwald found herself in, what she describes as “one of strangest spaces I have ever seen” – a mould room. MadeinSpode“It was filled with hundreds of plasters moulds – no thousands –balanced on rickety shelves that vanished upwards into the shadowy rafters. I stepped out of the room but those strange white objects sleeping in that dark room stayed with me. Independently I gained permission to return, with more time to wander among the stacks I realised I was witness to an extraordinary legacy.”  Spode are famous for producing fine tableware and along with other famous factories were part of The Potteries. It's here that many of the plates, jugs and bowls that are part of our households were made. What most of us don’t realise is that each ceramic piece was the result of a lengthy mould-making process. Every spode tea cup and saucer, every platter and gravy boat has its twin somewhere in the mould rooms – its unseen reflection. Looking at the immense collection of moulds Katya felt compelled to photograph them and to preserve something of this overlooked heritage.   MadeinSpode-CabbageShe explains, “I saw that they represent the hands of generation upon generation of skilled craftsmen. The ceramics are gone, sadly many of workers are gone too – and soon the mould rooms could vanish. These ghostly objects are made of fragile plaster, susceptible to the elements, pests and the ability of the council to protect them or consign them to the past. Already hundreds of moulds have been contaminated and had to be destroyed. In this kickstarter I am raising funds to produce a body of photographic work in book form – something that captures and preserves in print this striking and beautiful history. A book that can be shared by those that worked in the potteries, collectors or anyone interested in photography.” Kickstarter rewards for contributions include a copy of the finished book and even an original mould and Katya is thrilled that over half the necessary funds have been raised to date. As Sue Herdman, Editor of Ceramic Review said “This is an important project. The old Spode mould store is a treasure trove, each piece a poignant reminder of a time when our ceramics industry supplied a record proportion of the world’s porcelain and china. The moulds bear witness to the incredible skills of the long-gone craftspeople who created them. Katya’s project, I hope, will make a difference to their survival." To support the project visit  

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  • Bridget Kirke on

    I am so delighted that someone else understands how precious these things are. The first time I went round the Burgess and Leigh pottery in Burslem blew my mind … it was a living, working museum … moulds everywhere and even the original partners desk was still in use in the office. AND the pottery was still being produced in exactly the same way as it was in 1851. I was so proud to be able to sell it all in my shop.

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