Clarice Cliff: An Artist For All Time

Born in 1899, Clarice Cliff is widely considered to be the foremost ceramic pottery artist in the world. Cliff grew up in the English town of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent. Her beginnings were modest; she was one of seven children and both parents worked. Her father, Henry Thomas Cliff, was employed at a local iron foundry while her mother, Ann, took in washing to make ends meet. Cliff attended a different school than her siblings, which may have contributed to her sense of independence and unusual path of career woman. Perhaps more providential, Cliff routinely visited an aunt, an accomplished hand painter, who lived nearby her school.

At the age of 13, Clarice Cliff landed her first job in the pottery industry working as a gilder, meaning she added gold lines on traditional pottery ware. After mastering gilding, she decided to change jobs in order to learn freehand painting at another pottery factory while studying sculpture and art in her off hours at the Burslem School of Art. While most girls and young women were content to master only one or two essential pottery-making skills in order to maximize their income, Cliff was ambitious and passionate about her craft and was anxious to learn all she could about it. It is with this objective in mind that in 1916 Cliff decided to move to the pottery factory of A.J. Wilkinson at Newport, Burslem.

At A.J. Wilkinson, Clarice Cliff was granted apprenticeships due to coming to the favorable attention of one of the owners of the factory, Colley Shorter, a man 17 years her senior. Shorter would reportedly become her lover and, eventually, her husband. Under his protection and nurturance, Cliff mastered the skills of modelling vases and figurines, hand painting, enameling, and how to keep pattern books. These skills would prove essential to her later becoming a tour de force in the field of ceramic arts.

In 1927, Cliff’s hard work and dedication were recognized when she was given her own studio and even credited for the unique shapes and patterns she designed. While initially she only had a few artists working for her, it was only a matter of a couple of years before Cliff was running her own ceramic pottery factory. After several years of creating her own designs and style, notably Art Deco, Cliff was appointed Art Director at A.J. Wilkinson.

Cliff eventually married Colley Shorter but after Shorter’s death in 1963, Cliff sold the factory and retired. In 1972, Cliff died suddenly at the home she had shared with her mentor and husband. In 1976, admirers of Cliff’s work, Peter Wentworth-Sheilds and Kay Johnson, published a book about her and opened an exhibit of her work. This arguably sparked a revival of interest in her work that continues to this day.

Top Tips For Embroidery Beginners

Embroidery is a relaxing thing to do; you sit back and focus on a square inch of cloth and thread. It all comes down to the thread, cloth and you. After a few hours, you end up with a clear mind and a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. But there are times when your hard work results in missed stitches, pulled seams and even a mismatched piece that just does not look right. This happens when you have not followed simple embroidery rules. If you are new to the game, here is what you must do before starting out on this wonderful hobby.

Get the right supplies: Depending on the project, get the right fabric for your project. Most project instructions will itemize the fabric type, size and thread type required for the project. If no instructions are provided, choose a light quilting cotton. Embroidery thread is usually standardized and color-fast. Avoid floss or specialized threads as they will be difficult to use for beginners. Don’t forget to get an embroidery hoop as well. A basic 6-inch hoop will work the best. Needles are obviously a must and most needles can be used for embroidery Perth. Choose a pack with different eye sizes and store them carefully. If possible, get a thread conditioner as well. This accessory will coat the thread and protect it from fading or ripping over time. Other accessories include a water-soluble marker, sharp scissors, thimbles, and water soluble glue.

Pattern transfer: Water soluble markers are the best way to transfer images on to cloth. Trace the design on to the cloth and start your project. This method usually is good for lightweight fabric. You can also use fabric or tailors chalk to transfer the patter. For thicker fabric, iron-on patterns and printable stabilizers are a great option. Just print the design from your computer onto special paper and iron on or stick it on your fabric.
Start small: Embroidery takes time. Start with the smallest pattern possible and the simplest stitches. Take the time to learn more techniques and progress to harder projects as you go along.
Finishing: If you are going to frame your work or wear it, finishing is important. Trim the excess fabric or glue it under. Ensure that excess threads or knots are tucked under other stitches. You can always use stronger fabric or cardboard as a backing or frame your work to ensure stability.

Ready to learn more? Start with simple designs and then move on to complicated complex patterns. Check out our informative articles on embroidery at Embroidery Perth. We usually have articles out every week and you can also write in to us with queries.