I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love Denby?
I never forget when we first got married, leafing though the Denby brochure, trying to choose a dining set for our wedding list. We couldn’t agree on colour, so we ended up choosing a bone china set from a different brand. It was so fragile we never used it. And I never got Denby out of my system until I bought my Jet Dining set many years later.
We have had the Jet dinner set for 12 years and use it everyday. I love it, it still looks great, and apart from replacing bowls that the boys have dropped my Jet dinner set has stood the test of time. What I love about Denby is you can keep adding to it and it never dates, always looks fresh and modern, and that is all in the design.
My most recent set is the Heritage set, totally different in colour and style and perfect for entertaining. I love the pastel shades and simple styling of it so much I have already started adding pieces to the set. And it’s not just me! Many of my friends also feel the Denby love.
When the invitation came to spend the day at the Denby Potteries, I may have been a tad excited.
Ok a total understatement, I was beside myself. And the chance to meet design director Richard Eaton arghhh.
We started our tour outside the factory right where it all begins, at the clay mound. All the clay used at Denby is locally sourced. It is an odd feeling to be stood at the foot of a clay mountain knowing what lies in front of you is 15 years worth of beautiful luxury tableware. Let me tell you it takes some vision.
Once inside the factory we were guided through the life of the products. Starting right at the beginning shaping the clay, to painting and glazing. I had this vision of a piece of clay going into a machine and coming out a teapot.
This is just not the case; the amount of people involved in every Denby piece is astounding. Starting with the Design team, who don’t just design one range but a range in several styles and colours. This is all done with the knowledge that only one of these ranges will make it to market. Even choosing the correct shade, shape, and glaze is an exact science that can take months to perfect.
Can you imagine pouring all that love into a collection that never see the light of day? But all is not lost as these pieces all make up a living mood board which is all pulled together when planning future collections.
The difficulty is that everybody has a different take on what works. Can you image the market research and soul-searching that goes into choosing the right range.
Richard also gave us a tour through Denby history talking about how Denby have evolved through the years to keep the ranges looking fresh and modern.
Once colour pallets and styles are confirmed the product hits the factory floor. And after walking though the production process I will never look at a Denby piece the same again. Every handle is put on by hand, every glaze is hand painted. Yes, machinery is used to form the shape of the product, but skilled operators control the machinery. Who are vital to the process and ensuring the product is perfect. It’s wonderful to know that not everything is mass-produced in this day and age.
During our factory tour I witnessed the skill that goes into making Denby great and beautiful. I tried to dip a pot in glaze; I mean come on it can’t be that hard can it? Well, let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks; perfection takes practice, patience and lots of skill.
After a delicious lunch our tour was wound up with a session in the workshop making a tile. These are to be fired and will be arriving through my door shortly, I can’t wait. We were also able to watch a pot being thrown the tradition way by one of the factories most experienced potters, who is now an advisor to the design team. The Denby Pottery is one of those places you can feel the creativity and skill in the atmosphere because everybody has it to some degree.
Once our tour was over we got to spend a little time in the shops.
The Denby Village has a whole host of shops. If you haven’t been I would thoroughly recommend a visit. The Pottery Village has a perfect shop, a factory shop, candle shop amongst others. For lunch there is a fantastic cafe and bistro. And the Denby Pottery offers lots of factory experiences from tours and cookery demonstrations to pottery painting. It really is so worth the visit, I came away after a wonderful day with some fab Denby bargains to add to my collection.