Shapes: Why Shapes?

From Marilyn on 4th January 2009:

Explanation of Building Shapes

All of us including Hazle Ceramics use the words building, model, mould, ceramic and so on to mean different things at different times. I have been looking for a less ambiguous term to describe the primary level basic units of Hazle Ceramics. The altered moulds and add-ons could then be viewed as secondary level changes.

Even if a mould has been extensively altered the basic shape or two-dimensional contour of a building doesn't usually change. So I am trying out Building Shape as the basic unit term for the contour. The word "shape" is of course already much used in the ceramics world.

Some building shapes should be easily recognised even from a simple line drawing of their 2D contour, such as the tall, tapering London Liberty with its triangular roof gable or the long, low, left-hand corner piece of London Old Curiosity with its wide chimney.


Below are two sets of models where the building shape "system" applies differently in each case:

1. Oxford Oxfam has two similar Limited Moulds of 1000 pieces. Both main windows are on the right with the door on the left. One of the main differences is that on each version people have placed dissimilar modelled items outside the front door "for charity", plus a few other changes. However the outline of the building doesn't alter. So Oxford Oxfam would count as one "building shape" albeit with two Limited Moulds.

This also fits with Hazle's original intention to have one Oxfam model. Both of the Limited Moulds are inspired by the same building in Broad Street, Oxford. In real life it has been an Oxfam shop since the 1960s and still is. The first mould depicts it in the 60s and the second in more recent times.

Oxford OXFAM 1 Oxford OXFAM 2
Oxford Oxfam 1 (1960s) Oxford Oxfam 2 (2000s)

2. On the two Pateley Bridge models, not only do the shop fronts change but also the roof line. One model has a single chimney on the right and the other has one on the left. The other modelled changes are not considered here. It is because the contour on each differs that these count as two "building shapes".

This also ties in with the fact that Hazle did not pick out one particular building in Pateley Bridge (as she did in the Oxford example above) but used features from several along the High Street to create the two models. For further details about the two models below click on this Toys and Delis article in Ceramic Focus.

Delicatessen Toy Shop
on Pateley Bridge 1
Toy Shop
on Pateley Bridge 2

Clay replied:

I really appreciate how you now like to categorize the Hazle buildings. You said the top level category could be "Building Shape". I think you’ve got it! It’s much more descriptive than other possibilities like structure, form, model or mould. So it’s got my vote.

From Marilyn on 2nd July 2011:

Summary of Terms:

The purpose of these terms is to make the complexity of Hazle building variations easier to understand.


As discussed above, this simply covers the 2D contour or edge as the highest category. It does not encompass the modelled 3D aspects of the building.

For me a big part of the simplicity and yet workability of this term is that there is just one Shape corresponding to each original, real-life building that Hazle modelled. (Or a single, composite building for each of the two Pateley Bridge Shapes above).


The built-in modelling on the Casting Mould determines how the 3D surface of the building will look.

Over 75% of Building Shapes only have one Casting Mould (so the Shape and Mould are effectively the same).

However less than 25% of Shapes do have two or more Casting Moulds. By listing any Mould/s at a secondary level under the Shape, extensive modelled changes can be categorised without needing a new building name. That would be inappropriate, even with distinctly different Moulds, if they are derived from the same real-life building and fit the definition of the same Building Shape.

The examples below are all of the same Shape - Colchester High Street - named after the original building. The first two ceramics are on the same Mould but the original Greengrocer has a Round Awning added and the Barber a Straight Awning. The Mould was also produced as a No Awning version.

The third ceramic is on a new Mould 2. We call the painting Greengrocer 2. Hazle's thinking was to improve on the original Greengrocer by modelling the outside stall and man. She also decided to alter some window details on the upper floors to make it look even more distinct from the original version.

However this model was derived from exactly the same real-life building as the others and has the same contour. This is why it has the same Shape name - it really is part of "the family". So the extensive alterations are dealt with by classifying it as Mould 2.

Greengrocer Barber Greengrocer
Original Greengrocer Barber Greengrocer 2
Fired clay can shrink by differing amounts that sometimes result in noticeable size variations

As another example, The Wine Merchant on Windsor Curfew Yard also has extensive modelled changes including two new, large upper windows where there are none on the original mould. But we don't think it would be correct to re-name that as a new Shape. So again the Shape has two Moulds.

Further, the Epping Shape was originally based on the Bachelors of Epping saddlery and store. Matching the real building, the Bachelors' Mould is much simpler than the All Creatures or especially the Camping Mould. Despite this, the Shape is unmistakably Epping for all three.


Techniques done after casting but before the final firing may change the way a building looks too.


Items added after the final firing with glue may or may not change a building's appearance.

There is more detail on all the aspects above on the Building Variations page.

Last modified on 18 January, 2022
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