The life of a Moorcroft pottery designer
PUBLISHED: 00:06 12 September 2014
Her delightful pottery designs are becoming collectors’ items around the UK. But Emma Bossons’ career began as a happy accident and now, even HRH the Queen is impressed
Emma Bossons is one of a select band crafting designs at the home of some of the finest pottery in the world.
Moorcroft, founded in Stoke-on-Trent by William Moorcroft just over a century ago, still retains the traditional skills and processes which have made it famous since 1913.
Still only 38, Emma joined the company straight from school almost 20 years ago after taking part in a £40 a week government training scheme, since then she has won many awards and is now a member of the FRSA after being recommended as a member of the august body by Moorcroft chairman Hugh Edwards.
Emma’s early years were spent living on her family’s dairy farm in rural Cheshire. When her father went into the business of mending tractors they moved nearer to Congleton, where she attended the local high school.
She recalls: ‘I never consciously thought I wanted to be an artist. But when I was young I was always drawing and making things. I remember by mum being particularly impressed by a drawing I did of a rat standing at the top of our staircase!’
Joining Moorcroft was, she says, ‘a happy accident’
‘I came into the factory shop one day by chance when we were on a family day out and just fell in love with it all. I had not seen anything like Moorcroft pottery and I sent an application in for a job along with a portfolio of some of my paintings. When they took me on I was absolutely thrilled.’
Starting out on the shop floor, Emma‘s 18-month apprenticeship involved learning all about the intricate processes involved in transforming simple lumps of Cornish clay into works of art which are prized by collectors from across the globe
She began by painting other people’s designs but two years later was promoted to the Moorcroft Design Studio and became their youngest-ever designer.
Her first range, Hepatica, was completed in 2000. The follow-up, Queen’s Choice, became the company’s best seller for 2001. In 2002, her Golden Jubilee design impressed Her Majesty so much it was rewarded with the placing of the Royal Cypher on the base of every Moorcroft piece.
She now works from home but still works factory hours and checks in regularly to see through designs till the end of the manufacturing process.
Emma’s work has been shows in art exhibitions all around the country and she has won an award for her watercolour painting. In her spare time, she makes stained glass
‘Wherever I go I get lots of inspiration for designs. Something I see over the weekend might inspire me. For example I am currently working on some lamp designs and one of them is based on magnolia flowers as I have a lovely magnolia tree in my garden.’
All her designs start life as a sketch done on paper which is then drawn onto a 3-D clay shape and then traced and reproduced before it goes into the kiln and fired.
Her latest work includes a string of limited edition designs, including the Chartwell Plaque, telling the story of Winston Churchill’s home and his love of painting.
The company’s latest flagship collection is the Three Williams project, over 40 vases and plaques inspired by Pre-Raphaelite William Morris, his friend William de Morgan and of course William Moorcroft himself. All three followed the principles of the Arts and Craft Movement which prized traditional craftsmanship using medieval and Romantic styles of decoration
‘It was an absolute pleasure to work on. They are three people whose work I love and admire and I have done some pieces I am really proud of.’
She is currently in the process of moving to a new home on the Cheshire/Staffordshire border where there will be plenty of room to walk her dog and enjoy the local countryside.
When not at home she travels the world with other designers promoting the Moorcroft brand.
‘I am very fortunate. I’ve been to several different places in America, Canada, New Zealand and all over the UK. I take lots of notes and photographs and if I see something I like I will make a sketch or write my ideas down.
‘I make a good living but money is not the thing that drives me. It’s the making and drawing I love. It’s not a nine-to-five job, I get my ideas from everywhere and all kinds of places. Anyone can learn techniques. What they can’t teach you is creativity.’