I’ve been collecting mugs and teapots from the British designer Emma Bridgewater for years, ever since the first time I saw them lining the shelves in a little shop on Martha’s Vineyard. I ran toward them, saying (in the seagull voice from Finding Nemo) “mine” and have never looked back.
Emma is a real person, married to co-owner and artist Matthew Rice (whose mom, Pat Albeck, is also a wonderful artist and designs all the National Trust linen dish-towels, among other things). Emma’s “country pottery” as she calls it, is still handmade in the heart of England, Stoke-on-Trent (known as “The Potteries”), using the old-fashioned techniques they are famous for. Just at the time when the last of the old factories was closing, when a whole industry was disappearing, when so many trained people had lost their jobs and china was starting to be cheaply made in China — that’s when Emma and Matthew opened their business and began hiring (a bit like running toward the burning buildings). When we were in England, we visited their factory and had a fascinating afternoon learning all about what they do.
While we were there . . .
They set us up with mugs, paints and the tools to make our own Emma mugs to remember our trip by — we did drawings of what we wanted before we left home, which made it a lot easier when we got there.
After we painted the mugs, the factory fired them and then shipped them to us here on the island — they were waiting for us when we got home. Originals, no others like them, one of a kind, and all ours. I’m drinking my tea from the one on the left right now! If you go to England you can do this too!
Emma and her company was featured in the January 2009 issue of British Country Living Magazine (my favorite magazine, I took these photos of it for you). She loves china dishes as much as I do! The only thing is, her company is forever withdrawing patterns and retiring them. You never know when the thing you love the most will no longer be available. I miss the BEST FRIENDS cup they used to do! ♥ It does make the mugs more collectible, no two collections alike, and her heart-dappled pottery does a good job of making up for the loss of that Love and Kisses cup!
Since they are made the same way, in the same place as vintage china was made, my Emma cups look wonderful mixed and matched with my old china dishes and tea things.
At first we were a little frightened to buy Emma cups for our web store. With the costs of shipping pottery from England to America, the cups are expensive. I was worried, what if it’s just me that loves them? This could be a big investment for our small company that might just end up being Christmas presents for my girlfriends for a lifetime! But we’ve discovered that lots of you love Emma as much as I do! We’re committed to it now — everyone loves the collecting and displaying. Collections are blooming all over America.
♥ ♥ ♥
Emma cups and teapots are the kind of thing you save for — or get as a gift on your birthday. You buy something else on sale and take that money you saved and apply it to an Emma Bridgewater cup or teapot! Where there’s a will, my mom used to say, there’s a way.
Getting ready for a tea party, I’m mixing in new Emma mugs with old vintage ones. I like that Emma puts words on her china.
And here’s my pride and joy. ♥ Hope you enjoyed our Emma tour. Just knowing that Emma Bridgewater, a regular girl, had the inspiration and guts to start her own china company in England in this day and age gives me hope for the future for all brave and inspired people who wonder, can I do that? She and Matthew are proof positive, if you dream it, you can make it so. xoxo