Thursday, 17 April 2014


Seven months later and it's finished. Hour upon happy hour ensconced in the shed, slowly assembling this manifestation of mudlarking passion. Immersed in music in a way I haven't had the luxury of doing since I was a teenager, from opera to Rudimental, I've been in heaven. 

Whilst the mosaic is essentially a copy of  Emma Bigg's mudlarking mosaic, as I became more confident I've gone off piste, keeping religiously to her pattern but improvising. The most daring is this central slash of green glazed shards surrounding a wave of glass bottle tops and bottoms, some possibly dating from the 16th Century, although more likely from 17th century onwards. The oldest thing on the board is probably a deeply incised section of strap handle likely to have been made in Kingston in medieval times.

I had to slip in a few mudlarking classics. No mudlarking mosaic could be complete without a gurning Bartmann face, slotted in another section of salt glazed stoneware, 

originating from one of these. 

Saltglazed Bartmann Jug 1485-1714 Freshen Germany (Museum of London) 

Tucked in a corner above the creamware teapot spouts is the foot of a pipkin or skillet, still dusted with smoke from the charcoal it sat upon hundreds of years ago, with a smidgen of green glaze, the earliest form of coloured glaze used in Britain. 

It perhaps graced the bottom of a vessel similar to this

Surrey Hampshire ware skillet 1566-1700 (Museum of London) 

Elsewhere are the tops of green Tudor pottery money boxes used to collect entrance fees to theatres and some archetypal naive hand painted delft patterns, 

probably made in London and likely to have come from dishes akin
 to this
London Delft Dish 1680 (Christies) 

A mudlarking mosaic didn't seem quite right without one more section of delft, this time the more unusual polychrome type.

A cat's paw print caught forever in a medieval tile is fenced in by twisted creamware handles, possibly from a teapot. 

Or perhaps from something really posh like this punch pot or a Wedgwood melon tureen. 

Creamware Punch Pot 1765-1780 (historic new england) 

Right at the top are those marvelous shards  of iridescent glass you find along the Thames, their patina the sign of glass aged by several centuries. 

Tantalising snatches of writing on stoneware give clues to their story, a collection of ink pots, German mineral bottles, a Whites lemonade bottle and a few mysteries.   

To my surprise transferware is only marginally represented. A line of my favourite floral fragments highlights a row of clay pipe bowls standing to attention, with my collection of bartmann beards beneath. 

The early morning sun flooding through the shed windows illuminates the bottoms of three delft drug jars from the 17th century interspersed with large sections of dining plates, 

jars which would have looked something like this, 

London Delft Drug Jar 1650 - 1700 (Christies) 

So here it is, propped up against the shed wall. Fragments from around 1,500 objects belonging to 1,500 people living in London or visiting, over 7 centuries. Some treasured some hardly noticed, between them travelling hundreds of thousands of miles, telling stories of trade, human innovation and technical advancement, fashion and our desire for beautiful things. 


  1. My goodness, that is stunning with a capital STUN! I live in Australia and loved picking up objects from the beach, sea glass, pearly shells, etc. it must be bliss to have the Thames there and all that history. Your blog posts and your research has been wonderful to discover and read. What will you do now? I really hope to see more of the same or different but more would be nice. Well done!

  2. I am totally inspired and so appreciate the research and stories you've shared along the way in creating this masterpiece!

  3. Wow! Very well done. It is a joy to see what you find and now what you've made. The mosaic rocks. I especially love the quirky bottles and use of pipes and handles.

  4. everything about this mural is fantastic! I especially loved your commentary, great as usual.

  5. Congratulations and thank you for such a wonderful inspirational work of art and memory.

  6. It's wonderful!!! We'll be in England this summer and my husband is chomping at the bit to do some mudlarking.

  7. Absolutely amazing and all that history in there as well, a beautiful piece.

  8. Julia, that it absolutely beautiful! You have inspired me to stop thinking about it and actually start creating something with some of my foreshore finds.

    Oh, and I rather like your shed too!

  9. magnífico!!!

    Your mosaic is the real treasure of the Thames

  10. Wow! Very impressed with your beautiful mosaic! I am doing a similar thing with the bits of pottery I have found field walking, it seemed a shame to have them lying around in tubs when I could make something beautiful. I bet mine won't turn out half as nice as yours though :)

  11. Magical. A masterpiece. It should be in the Museum of London. Well done you and thanks for sharing the journey.

  12. Thank you for all your appreciations, your interest has spurred me on. Onto the next project. Julia

  13. That is totally amazing - I wish i could see this in real life. It is worthy of being a museum piece. I love it x

  14. So interesting, historical, amazing and beautiful, all in the same object. Thanks for sharing it, and the journey to finish it. (Love this blog.)

  15. As an archaeologist and artist... Just wow. I love the collage like format, the materials, everything. ;). Also kind of wondering what the laws are regarding artifacts in Britain- are you going to get in trouble for any of this?

  16. Truly one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen. Thank you for sharing your passion with us.

  17. Wow, Julia, the mosiac is trully amazing and beautiful!!! Centuries of history and personal stories carefully composed into an elegant masterpiece. This definitely needs to go on display. Well done! See you on the foreshore, Jason

  18. Julia, this is nothing short of MAGNIFICENT!!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I always love the tidbits of history that you include with each post. THANK YOU!

  19. exceptionally done. what does it weigh, and how will you mount it or display it.

  20. Unbelievably beautiful. I am in awe.


  21. Absolutely wonderful! I love how you featured your finds in such an artful way.