We recently had a chance to visit designer Reiko Kaneko at her studio in historic Stoke-On-Trent. It was a fantastic opportunity to see her work being made from start to finish - beginning off with a tour through the slipware factory where a lot of her work is starts it's life. The family owned business has worked with Reiko for many years, helping her achieve ambitious and challenging designs in her work.
Bone China is a notoriously difficult material to work with, but these craftsmen know how to handle it to prevent breakage and less stress to the material. Below you can see a plethora of moulds held at the factory, the huge industrial kilns which are used and an army of thimbles which this factory also produces.
We also had the chance to see Stoke-On-Trent's iconic bottle kilns, which were used by the factories in their heyday. The ceramics would be packed into fireclay boxes ('Saggars') which were then packed snug into these giant structures to be fired. The model below which we found in The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery shows both the scale and how the workers moved within the kiln, keeping it heated.
Reiko's studio is a light and airy space to work in, incorporating an office space, a studio pottery area and a showroom.
It was such a pleasure to see how Reiko works and especially how contemporary designers work within Stoke-On-Trent. To see more of Reiko's work, head over to www.reikokaneko.co.uk