Friday, April 22, 2011

Pot dogs

` As dog figures go, the Staffordshire Spaniel has no peer. It was a quintessential mantle ornament to any home loving, dog adoring family in Great Britain. I've been making some of my own 'pot dogs'; keeping true to the basic idea but adding embellishments here and there.

One dog above has a bluebird around his neck and dreams of going back home, while the other sits on a river bank as a fish swims silently by .

Cats qualify for the mantle too, especailly tortoiseshell cats. One has a teapot, the other a cup.
The tiny pair in front are salt glazed, about 1820.

The Spaniel mania began in the 1660's when King Charles II came to the throne, his adoring crew of King Charles spaniels capering around him at the palace like a gaggle of geese. And in the center of England, there were the Staffordshire potteries with all that clay, salt , water and coal for firing and the icon of all dog figures was born.

Above, a sample page of more things the potteries produced. This charming page courtesy of

James Kent Potteries and Reggie of Reggie Darling. He has a wonderful blog, and an amazing array of Staffordshire too.

All this beauty and whimsy came from this remarkable, bottle kilned, coal spewing, terrible, beautiful area of England. Women, men and children worked in shocking conditions and usually for twelve to sixteen hours a day. At one time more than 100 seperate potteries operated here, the center of the pottery world.

My little piece of history, a small black elephant.

When Victoria became Queen, her Spaniel, Dash came along too. Right after her coronation she returned to the Palace, hurried upstairs and gave Dash a bath. There's a woman who has her priorities in line!

Even though I walk by a rose covered bower on my way to work, I still felt a connection to the hard working, brave craftsmen and women in whose footsteps I followed as I painted these, and they are very hard footsteps to fill, even with my size nine shoes.


Animals who garden

Animals who garden
Donkey with green paw