Cauldon Ceramics of Staffordshire maintain the tradition of redware manufacturing and are the oldest remaining maker of the Brown Betty teapot. Together with designer Ian McIntyre they present this re-engineered edition. It includes the reintroduction of innovative precedents in the history of the pot: Alcock Lindley and Bloore’s 1920’s patented ‘locking lid’ and ‘non-drip spout’ have been applied. A subtle tweak to the foot and neck of the pot now allows the lid to be inverted into the body, enabling it to be stored efficiently in the factory and stacked in cafes and restaurants. The new addition of a loose-leaf tea basket has also been added.
Great care has been taken to respect the traditions of the Brown Betty whilst implementing new production processes and design details. To re-style the pot, the designer felt, would have been a disservice to the years of refinement that have gone before. This latest edition is intended to promote the legacy and value of this everyday object that has transcended fashions and trends to become a reliable and dependable tool for millions around the world.
Made in Stoke-on-Trent
Brown Betty describes a type of teapot with common characteristics of red Etruria Marl clay, a transparent or dark brown Rockingham glaze and a familiar portly body. The ritual of tea drinking has remained largely unchanged for centuries. All over the world people choose a teapot as their preferred apparatus and the humble Brown Betty is often heralded as the archetypal example. The popularity of the pot is proven in the quantity in which it has been made. By 1926 the Staffordshire pottery industry was making approximately half a million Brown Betty teapots per week. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the object itself or its early history and design development. This affordable, utilitarian and unpretentious object has largely gone unnoticed, disappearing into the fabric of everyday life.
below:Alcock, Lindley and Bloore advertisement, Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review, April, 1935
Un-authored and archetypal
The process of design of the Brown Betty spans centuries. There is no single identifiable author and no single definitive version of the pot: it is an anonymous and evolved object. Over the years, Brown Betty has been through the hands of numerous makers, each producing their own interpretation, subtly refining and amalgamating new and original design details. The resulting teapot is a rational object stripped of anything superfluous to its function or production.
Although there is no definitive version, the manufacturers Alcock, Lindley and Bloore were responsible for cementing the archetypal features of the pot as we know them today. Some of the most recognisable features of the Brown Betty were combined during their production: the globe shape of their pot that is so efficient at infusing loose leaf tea, the roughly cut spout that breaks the flow of water, preventing tea from dribbling back down the outside of the pot and the Rockingham glaze that concealed any dribbles that did, despite best efforts, escape.
Crafted in Etruria Marl Clay
The combination of the Rockingham glaze and the red clay was and still is fundamental to the success of the Brown Betty, prolonging the life of the object for its owner and, subsequently, through history. The Staffordshire clay used to make a Brown Betty was first refined in 1693 by Dutch brothers John Philip Elers and David Elers. The brothers emulated the fashionable and expensive Yixing teapots which had originally been imported from China by the Dutch East India Company. The refinement of the local red clay gave rise to a new era of technological experiment in Staffordshire, becoming a catalyst for the industrialisation of the six towns that now make up Stoke-on-Trent.
above right:Alcock, Lindley and Bloore factory, Minton Archive, Stoke-on-Trent City Archivesabove left:Daisy Bank, Marl Hole, Longton, photographed by William Blake c. 1900–1940, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trentbelow:Clay seam, Stoke-on-Trent, photographed by Bjarte Bjørkum
Non-drip, lock lid, loose leaf, easy stack
The Brown Betty Teapot Re-engineered Edition is designed by Ian McIntyre with thanks to AirSpace Gallery, Ed Bentley, Felix de Pass, Laura Houseley, Robin Levien, Bethan Lloyd Worthington and Michael Montgomery Ian McIntyre is reading a collaborative doctoral award with Manchester School of Art, the British Ceramics Biennial and York Art GalleryPhotography by Angela Moore