Cyber Signing 2005


Fireworks (on London Sherlock)

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This firework display is a spectacular way to celebrate the eGroup's 2nd Anniversary on March 21st!

The circular raised plaque on the wall marks the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot on the 5th of November 1605, a failed attempt to blow up King James 1 and the Houses of Parliament at the annual opening ceremony. After a tip-off barrels of powder were found in a cellar under the House of Lords, together with Guy Fawkes whose job was to light the fuse. The ritual of searching the vaults before the autumnal State Opening of Parliament continues to this day. We did think of putting 21st March on the plaque but 5th November is likely to mean more for posterity.

Known as Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night, this is the one day in the year when many families in the UK light a fire in their back garden and let off a few fireworks. I remember as a child drinking hot cocoa in friends' gardens before they came over to mine. That way we could eke out our fireworks and the excitement for as long as possible.

Like watercolours, underglaze paints are semi-translucent so you have to paint the lighter areas first, adding dark colours later. Can you imagine how tricky it must be to paint the black around the Fireworks lettering and all the starbursts, spray and sparks? Some finishing touches were able to be overlaid with gold - but this has the disadvantage of requiring a third firing in the kiln. There are few short-cuts in Hazle Ceramics... The painting has gone through at least six prototypes and is unlikely to be tried again, adding to the future collectability of this ceramic.

eGroup exclusive Limited Painting by Iona Driver. To be numbered according to how many are ordered by members.


Patisserie (on Hay-on-Wye)

In the early 1700s most perishable food in England was still bought, as it always had been, from trestle stalls in the open street or market square. The market-place was subject to rigid controls but a sign of changing times was the way in which pastry-cooks were allowed to open new bun shops anywhere and set their own prices. Sugar and dried fruits, once luxuries of the rich, gave a wide appeal to ready-made cakes and confectionery. Pastry shops, sometimes with eating on the premises, became a growth industry remarked upon by writers of the day such as Daniel Defoe.

The name Patisserie suggests a range of delicacies perhaps not found in a standard English bakery and clearly indicates a French influence. This may date back to when, for two years, Antonin Carême was Chef to the future King George IV during his period as Prince Regent (1811-20). The 'Architect of French Cuisine', Carême wrote many classic cookbooks, including The Royal Parisian Pastry-Chef and was renowned for raising confectionery to an art-form.

In the right window of our Patisserie are some open fruit flans for which the French are famous, including what appears to be an apple 'tarte tatin' on the far right. I can also just make out some croissants and iced cherry buns. In the left shop window are the familiar French baguettes plus a variety of other golden-baked breads.

The wooden beams of the Hay Bookshop have been painted here in an attractive oak colour instead of the customary black, giving this shop a rustic look.

Limited Painting of 50 by Sharon Stroud

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Old Father Time (on Grantham LE1000)

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“Time is a conception to measure eternity” is an old Indian saying.

According to the Science Museum website:

“Mechanical clocks brought about a change in the way in which time was measured. Before the 14th century the system of dividing a period of one day and one night into 24 equal hours was only used by astronomers. For most people, the periods of daylight and darkness were each divided into 12 “temporal hours” which varied in length throughout the year. This is convenient with sundials but the speed of a mechanical clock does not vary in this way. By the end of the 15th century, most people in Europe had switched to the modern system and the design of sundials had changed to use it as well.”

The origin of the all-mechanical clock is unknown. They may have been invented by monasteries to alert the sacristan, who tolled a bell calling monks to prayer. Early ones were large weight-driven machines fitted into towers and called turret clocks. Dated 1386 and recently restored to working order, the oldest surviving turret clock in England and probably anywhere is at Salisbury Cathedral. Smaller versions started appearing as domestic clocks in the late 1300s.

Around 1500 a German locksmith made the first portable clock driven by a spring, with only an hour hand. Minute hands, glass covers and brass cases to protect from dust only came in during the 1600s. That century also saw the invention of the wall-hanging pendulum clock based on the observations of Galileo. Encasing the pendulum and weights in wood gave rise to the longcase or grandfather clock. There are examples of these clocks in our shop. Clockmakers also became fairly common in the 17th Century. They were craftsmen who made costly goods and only dealt with customers direct.

The Grantham building was where our first (and so far only) woman Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was born and grew up. Her father Alf Roberts ran a grocery cum Post Office on the ground floor and the family lived above the shop. In her autobiography Margaret recalls how she and her elder sister Muriel used to weigh out and bag up provisions in the back shop. Appropriately our Old Father Time is a small old-fashioned one man business too. The clockmaker/restorer is shown here inspecting one of his beloved clock movements in need of repair. The GR on the letter box covers the reigns of George V (1901-1936) and George V1 (1936-1952).

eGroup exclusive Limited Painting by Sharon Stroud. To be numbered according to how many are ordered by members.


Cinderella (on Northampton)

Many celebrities enjoy taking part in the UK pantomime season and the story goes that with a star-studded cast this theatre was given a stellar make-over just for Cinderella! Perhaps the fairy godmother did it with a twinkle of her wand... The silver sparkles are actually platinum, which like gold needs a third firing.

Painting this brought back memories for Iona Driver who, as a youth theatre member, played a mouse in a local Essex production. Sadly the joy of being turned into a coachman fell to the professional actors only. So Iona didn't go to the ball! The Cinderella logo is taken from that very theatre programme and depicts part of the shape and undercarriage of the coach.

One of the favourite subjects for Christmas pantos, Cinderella is of very ancient and probably Eastern origin. Most recently popularised by Walt Disney, the story is found in old German and French literature. The essentially British entertainment of pantomime began in 1702. No longer mimed, the plot is embellished with singing, dancing and topical jokes. The family audience shout out choruses with actors such as "Oh no you can't!", "Oh yes I can!". Traditionally both hero and heroine are acted by women with the comedy role of a 'dame' played by a man. In Cinderella the dame becomes a double act as the Ugly Sisters.

This building based on the Royal Theatre from Northampton has a touch of the fairytale too. In real life the interior is about to be restored to the original splendour specified by Victorian architect Charles Phipps, who designed around 40 theatres.

Limited Painting of 50 by Iona Driver

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Cottage Hospital (on Woodstock)

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The Cottage Hospital theme of 'small is beautiful' is very appropriate to Hazle Ceramics. This one looks so charming and inviting that just visiting it should make you feel better! Based on the lovely Woodstock building with its honeyed Cotswold stone, the climbing lilac foliage of the Wisteria Tearooms is painted pink here - the proverbial 'roses round the door'... In the left window one can glimpse people in the Waiting Room and to the right is a Doctor's Office.

In the days before the founding of the National Health Service in 1948, cottage hospitals were run by general practitioners and offered an amazing range of services in a more personal setting. Sadly only a few remain. However the new NHS initiative “Surgery in the Community” aims to free up major hospitals for more complex procedures as well as reducing the risk of modern infections and patient travelling times. So although this ceramic may appear nostalgic there is now a shift towards the sort of local care cottage hospitals once provided, albeit sometimes in a more high-tech way.

Numerous cottage hospitals were built around the time of Queen Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees and many bore her name - my home town of Sidmouth still has its Victoria Cottage Hospital. Sidmouth could also boast that Queen Victoria had stayed there as a baby from 1819-20 when she was known as Drina - from her first name Alexandrina. In the words of her father HRH The Duke of Kent, fourth son of King George III, the family was visiting Sidmouth “to cheat the winter”. Tragically he died of pneumonia a month later. There was no cottage hospital in Sidmouth then! Woolbrook Glen where the family lived is now the Royal Glen Hotel, with the Kent Suite and Royal Nursery available as bedrooms. The latter deliberately retains the creaking floor boards complained of by Princess Drina's Nanny!

In 1964 I visited the Casualty Department (ER) at Sidmouth, having had a train door slammed on my thumb... the nail grows crookedly to this day. The cottage hospital experience was however very positive - and the accident didn’t put me off trains either! It happened on our magical branch line railway which criss-crossed the river Otter through the lush undulating countryside of East Devon, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Even the tiniest stops had their own beautiful Victorian station and each stationmaster prided himself on his floral displays in hanging baskets, tubs and beds. So many memories from one ceramic...

Limited Painting of 30 by Carol Whaley


Keyboard Friends (on London Old Curiosity)

The first website went online on 6th August 1991 and for many people it is now difficult to imagine life without the internet. There are estimated to be 171 billion pages, growing by 11 million a day. At this rate the number of web pages will exceed the number of observable galaxies in the Universe by 2013!

In the autumn of 2003 there was discussion on the eGroup about having a ceramic which would not only be exclusive to us but also portray some eGroup activities.

Iona Driver painted the very first eGroup ceramic as a High Street Cyber Cafe for our 2004 Event. Hazle Ceramics are displayed on the inside walls and also on the computer screens. That can only mean one thing - there's a Cyber Signing going on! The full eGroup web address is shown on the corner. This ceramic crosses timezones! The collector on the left sits in darkness under a lamp, with the others in daylight.

This version is offered one last time for those who missed it last year. It is an Open Numbered Painting and we think the final total will be around 20 ceramics.

eGroup exclusive painting by Iona Driver.

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The Heraldry Centre (on Banbury)

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Over the centuries heraldry has developed into a huge and complex subject, taking in much history along the way. But its origins stem from the simple requirement of being able to distinguish friend from foe in battle. Due to the evolution of armoury in the late 11th Century fighters became unrecognisable under their helmets. The famous Bayeux tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 shows William of Normandy (later King William I) lifting his helmet to reveal himself to his troops. Although emblems are painted on the shields here, the same design is used by many individuals even on opposite sides of the battle. And the same individual uses alternative motifs at different times. So heraldry proper had not yet begun and evidence suggests this happened around 1160.

By the Middle Ages heralds, who announced the start of wars, were the earliest recorders of what became known as heraldry, travelling to different tournaments and learning to identify knights by their arms. The term 'coat of arms' originally referred to a cloth coat worn over a suit of armour, which had a knight's arms sewn into it. Many of the special terms still used today come from the vocabulary of textiles in the Middle Ages. Coats of arms were first granted to noble families and individuals, but many universities and city corporations have them too. If you are elevated to the House of Lords or marrying into the Royal Family they are considered essential! Nowadays new arms are granted in England by the College of Arms to eminent people or institutions, for ceremonial purposes only.

Other groups hold records and research facilities including a Heraldry Society. They are most likely to run The Heraldry Centre seen here, with many colourful shields, the most important part of the arms, proudly displayed outside. Coats of arms are still to be seen mounted on buildings, inside and out, as well as on printed material. Type “heraldry” into a search engine and all sorts of interesting links come up. The legal right of a particular family or clan to bear a specific coat of arms means that heraldry is closely allied to geneaology and family history which some of our members study.

Between the beams on the ceiling of St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, the armorial shields of all knights admitted to The Most Noble Order of the Garter are painted. They look surprisingly similar to Iona’s shields between the beams of the Tudor Teashop model. Perhaps this stunning and painstakingly depicted theme is the closest Hazle Ceramics will get to portraying Windsor Castle!

Limited Painting of 50 by Iona Driver


Blacks Ironmonger (on Uppingham Market)

Formerly called 'black metal', iron replaced bronze in the late 2nd and 1st millennia BC. From then until the Industrial Revolution local blacksmiths forged most of the wrought-iron objects in the world by hand, including agricultural implements, tools, household items, armour, ship fitments and ironwork for carriages and buildings.

Painted in Sharon's calligraphic style, the name Blacks (rather than the more familiar Smith) recalls those times. During the 19th century metal articles were increasingly made in factories by machines or with inexpensive casting processes. Blacksmiths are now almost exclusively farriers, fitting horse shoes.

Modern ironmongeries, that have survived the spread of one-size-fits-all Do It Yourself chains, are often large with a huge product range. There is a famous one in Hadleigh, Suffolk which covers eight shop fronts! Typically for Hazle Ceramics, proprietors pride themselves on stocking unusual items, buyable in small quantities, and on personal service where nothing is too much trouble...

Our Ironmonger harks back to a time before ready-made barbecue stoves and the one on Hazle's Garden Shop appears here as a Bargain Tub. In the main window, under the stained-glass panels, is an old-fashioned iron watering can. Heavy to use, they are now often ornamental! A customer and hanging utensils can be glimpsed through the open doorway. On the first floor, the plough is painted as a lawnmower and wooden wheelbarrow. The topiary bird is somewhat overgrown although you can still make out an outline. Instead of green, it is a golden variegated colour.

Lawnmowers can often form a vital part of a ironmonger’s business today. They were invented in 1830 by Edwin Budding an engineer from Stroud in Gloucestershire. He got the idea after seeing a machine in a local mill which used a cutting cylinder to trim and smooth cloth after weaving. The earliest machines were all made of cast iron and remarkably similar to modern mowers. Budding allowed other companies to build copies under licence, the most successful of which was Ransomes of Ipswich, founded in 1789. The company was making lawnmowers by 1836 including a horse drawn model and are now the world’s largest manufacture of lawn care equipment. So the Ransomes billboard on Blacks Ironmonger really does link the old with the new.

Limited Painting of 50 by Sharon Stroud

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Charles and Camilla Bridal Shop (on Bath Abbey Green)

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The Bridal Shop title is painted in gold (it is normally black) together with the names Charles & Camilla also in gold either side of the flowers on the wall. Instead of the Best Wishes in the right window, our version will have the date of the wedding 9th April 2005 again painted in gold.

Camilla's two outfits drew admiration even from cynical observers and she was generally regarded as looking 'drop dead elegant'! Worn for the Service of Blessing, her beautiful bridal gown of porcelain blue shot through with gold embroidery, topped with an unusual but stunning golden head-dress by society milliner Philip Treacy was especially praised.

According to the television programme 'The Queen's Castle' broadcast the following evening, at the Wedding Breakfast for over 800 guests 19,000 canapes were served. That's enough for around 25 each - and a lot of overtime for Windsor Castle's kitchen staff!

This is not a limited painting but it is unlikely many will be produced, and it is possibly exclusive to us.


Royal Wedding News (on West Malvern)

The headline “Royal Wedding postponed for Pope’s funeral” appear on the news stand outside.

Talking of newspapers, it has been widely reported that the Queen’s ‘boycott’ of the Civil Ceremony in Windsor Guildhall was a snub to Charles and Camilla. The explanation given via Jonathan Dimbleby, TV presenter and friend of the couple, is that as a deeply religious person the Queen believed the Service of Blessing to be the more significant event and that as Supreme Governor of the Church of England it was inappropriate for her to attend what she regarded as merely a legal contract.

The following quote from Her Majesty at the Wedding Reception was reported in The Times on Monday 11th April:

‘What the Queen said of the couple, after announcing the most important news of the afternoon - that Hedgehunter won the Grand National was: “They have overcome Becher’s Brook and The Chair (perilous horse jumps) and all kinds of other terrible obstacles. They have come through and I’m very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves.”’

That the Queen does not normally give out personal statements makes this one all the more remarkable.

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Last modified on 20 January, 2014
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