Saturday, 26 October 2013

An Early Mudlark

Up and out before 7am, daylight was just emerging. Strings of headlights were already making their way along the main road. In the distance three tall boxes of light came into view, one of them my bus. Fabulous London where you rarely have to wait more then a couple of minutes for your bus to turn up.

There is something so comforting about the familiar rocking, humming, hissing and rattling of the London bus as it gently judders you to your destination. 

The bus was full of the stillness and hush of early commuters. Just the occasional cough or turning of a page as we crept into the city. The sunrise tinged the grey clouds orangey pink. 

I was surprised I wasn't the first down on the Thames, another regular had beat me to it, but for the next couple of hours we were the only ones down there. Each absorbed in our little world of mudlarking pleasure. 

I spent the first hour methodically and very, very slowly searching one patch of ground, hoping to find the small and metal. Not much luck, although I did spot my first  tiny blue glass bead which I suspect are very difficult to date and a fly button. 

Mudlarking finds: Glass bead and fly button circled with 'Best Ring Edge'
I spotted one of the oldest pipes I've found so far, the small one at the top with a milled edge is from 1610-1640 pictured next to one from 1700-1770 to show the difference in size, as tobacco decreased in price clay pipes grew larger. 

Mudlarking Finds: R - L Clay pipes from 1700-1770 and 1610-1640
The second hour was the usual casual beach combing when the pottery catches my eye. More of the same but pleased with this very large piece of Werra slipware which was imported from Germany between 1550- 1650

Mudlarking Find:  German Werra Slipware 1550-1650

and this enormous section of what I suspect is a Roman box flue tile, covered in this earlier post, found where one of London's disappeared rivers, the Walbrook trickles into the Thames. Londinium was built up on either side of the Walbrook.

Mudlarking Find: Roman Box Flue Tile

I gathered up three boats which had punted off their plates 

Mudlarking Finds: Transferware boats 

and here's a reminder of the poximity of the sea, sadly he was no longer alive. 

and lastly what I mainly came down for and found in abundance as very few people want these broken bits of plain creamware and stoneware, which I'm going to need in bucket loads for that darned mosaic. 

Back on the bus, front seat at the top all the way home. Looking forward to a bacon sarnie and mug of tea. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Mudlarking Mosaic - the beginning

I'm good at ideas but rubbish at execution. So it will take gargantuan effort for me to ever finish this thing and sadly most of the time it feels more of a burden than a pleasure, I'm hoping that will change as I get into it. 

Ever since I started mudlarking I've wanted to make something from all those bits of pottery. I came across a mosaic made of foreshore finds which I absolutely loved and knowing I couldn't better the design I settled on pure plagiarism, albeit rather ambitious for someone who hasn't made anything since primary school. 

Tania Covo the wonderful Thames jeweller told me what equipment to buy to get me stared, by enjoyable happen chance, she had worked with the mosaic artist I'm copying and assured me she wouldn't mind. 

So printed photos, ordered the equipment and pulled out my first set of pottery pieces, the ubiquitous shell edged pearl ware (1780- 1840)  with its blue edging, the relief decorated edges of white stone ware plates(1720-1780)  and the more yellowy cream ware popular from 1760. 

and had a go at a section of the design to see if I could 'do it', far from  perfect but good enough for me to pursue 

then did a bit more 

so decided to get serious and bought a book and  went to the wood shop. Realising that I would never get it together to put the wood together into a frame, my very kind husband took it down to a local carpenter and brought back a large 44" x 45" frame.

Created a template from the photo, blew it up on a photocopier, copied the design onto tracing paper on both sides, so that I could then transfer it onto the board. 

By this time I'd been banished to our party shed with all my 'stuff', so with Black Eyed Peas blasting out and youngest ensconced with his nintendo on a sofa nearby to keep me company, I finally marked out the design in pen. 

 priming and buying tile cement tomorrow - then I suppose I'd better get on with it.