Back to the Beginning: The Devonshire Tabletop Collection

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Miranda Thomas’ Pottery designs are deeply rooted in the English ”North Devonshire” pottery tradition. For centuries, the potters of the North Devon region made beautiful useful country wares from the local clay-rich soils that have been inspiring many potters and collectors since.

The wares were made from a low-fire red earthenware clay, their interiors lined in a slip or just glaze, and the exteriors often left unglazed. These historic country wares of North Devon made their way across the UK to Ireland, Brittany in France, and as far afield as North America, as early as the 1600’s. The potters who worked in these potteries were some of the last remaining country potters to survive into the 21st century industrial England.

Devonshire jugs from Miranda Thomas's personal collection
Harvest Jug 1868 Edwin Beer Fishley, Fremington Devonshire
Harvest Jug 1932 Michael Cardew Winchcombe Pottery

Miranda’s teacher, Michael Cardew, was one of the fore-fathers of the twentieth century pottery movement. He was also one of the last potters to be directly trained by William Fishley Holland, the fifth generation of Fishley potters of Fremington, Devonshire. Cardew revived many of the ways of making their hand thrown ‘slipware” methods in his own potteries and throughout his career.  For more reading about this fascinating history, we recommend the Pottery Studio website.

In her early twenties, Miranda, in turn, trained under Michael Cardew, then in his late 70’s, in these same methods. For the past 30 years, Miranda’s team of potters have used those same time-honored traditions of making that he passed onto her. By using their same weights and measures, forming similar fundamental shapes, and using their ways of pulling handles, the tradition is carried forward.

Michael Cardew sawing wood at Wenford Bridge 1979
photo by Miranda Thomas
Miranda Thomas throwing at the Ball Wheel at Wenford Bridge 1979
Cardew's Office at Wenford Bridge with a Devonshire pitcher between the desk and shelves
photo by Miranda Thomas

Miranda Thomas's Devonshire line is now made from her clay, a blend of stoneware clays from Tennessee, better suited to the rigors of ovens, dishwashers, and microwaves in modern use. Like the early Devonshire wares, the exterior surface is left unglazed and undecorated. This impervious high-fired raw unglazed surface of the pot reveals the clay’s inherent beauty and captures the potters hand impressions as the pots are formed on the wheel or patted over a simple hump mold. The interiors are glazed in an opalescent celadon glaze and are fired in a stoneware reduction kiln to 2,360℉.

The result is elegant, durable, beautiful and, like their predecessors, ready for everyday life.

Miranda Thomas at Wenford Bridge in front of Devonshire jugs thrown by herself and fellow apprentice Mark Hewitt and Thiébaut Chagué, 1979