A Clay Day at Denby Pottery Village

A Clay Day at Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery VillageI suppose it’s difficult for the average consumer to have a terribly specific opinion of a pottery brand if it just happens to be something you see on the high street from time to time.

But saying that, after a recent trip to the Denby Pottery Village in Derbyshire, my views have changed.

Let’s put it this way, if I ever break another mug (because I’m clumsy and because toddlers happen) then I’ll never take for granted what it took to make it.

The Denby Pottery Village is little place in the Derbyshire countryside made up like a small town dedicated to the brand. Made up of with numerous buildings to house the different parts of Denby as a business – from their offices, to the factory itself, to the craft rooms, to the outlet store to the restaurant café.

So what did I get up to?

We started with a factory tour where we learned all about how the clay is shaped and the science behind a glaze. Don’t feel daft if you’ve only ever thought of glazes in regards to donuts before. I was the same. Ha!

In this context however, a glaze is essentially the recipe for how that piece of pottery will look. It’s the specific instructions which make up its colour, finish and pattern.

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

How gorgeous are those pinks? Sadly, that’s not the finished colour, as glazes change colour and finish under the heat of the kiln. But still – BEAUT.

What amazed me about the whole process was the insane level of precision needed to do the job. It’s easy to assume that because there is such a vast volume of pottery created that it would all be machine-made. Well, some of this is the case, but mostly cup handles are added by hand, and plates are painted by a single person. Teapots are dipped in glazes – by hand.

You can see that very process above where plates are spinning and paint delicately added to the edges to form a circular colour to the outer lip.

It takes an incredible eye for detail and when I look at rows and rows of the clay pieces, I can’t quite fathom that they weren’t done in a uniform machine.

My mum has a Denby set. It’s deep blue in colour and is noticeably identifiable as Denby. Her and my step-dad bought it not long after they started living together, probably around 15 years ago now, and they still use it to this day. A testament, not only to their ability not to smash plates, but to the quality. After learning that they were probably made by hand, I’m SO glad I never dropped one over the years!

Next, we were given a sneak preview of the newest ranges soon to be launched by Denby and learn more about the history of the company.

The design room was a colour lovers haven. These tiny ceramic pots were all experiments just waiting to be chosen. It’s the room where the puppeteers get to design the colours and shades, match them against the curves of the clay, figure out how this matches upcoming trends, and then turn it into a sellable product. It was a small, but really inspiring room, and seeing some of the Denby collections on full display afterwards made me appreciate so much more how much thought had gone into the tiniest of details.
Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

Before we left, we headed to the craft room!

I’ve never seen someone “throw a pot” before, as it’s correctly called. I just imagined the scene from Ghost, but a little more professional, foolishly. What an amazing thing to watch.

I didn’t dare give it a go myself, but I did make some ceramic tiles! Rolling out the clay and creating a design. I decided to make one for Luna using stamps to press in the letters of her name. I can’t wait to receive it and see how it looks! (I’ll post it on Instagram when it arrives so go and follow me if you want to see!)

Denby Pottery Village
Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village
Denby Pottery Village

Denby Pottery Village

I had such a lovely day, and the best news is, you can go and take the tour yourself and take part in the crafts workshop. I believe they do children’s classes so it’s definitely something I’ll look to do in a few years with Luna. so check out the website and do let me know if you visit!

Sadly I couldn’t photograph the brand new ranges just yet as it was super top secret but I’m excited to share it when the time comes. What’s your favourite Denby piece? Have you ever thrown a pot before?

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  • AnnaInternational

    I have just started collecting the Natural Canvas range and I absolutely love it! Our wedding gift list was a chance to actually upgrade my uni Argos value crockery and I feel so grown up now with proper amazingly made stuff. This tour and craft workshop sounds amazing, I want to go! 🙂 x

    • Oh brilliant! We did something similar with our wedding list but ended up buying an oven haha not quite as glamorous but certainly necessary! 🙂 I’d definitely recommend a visit if you ever ger chance x

  • The White Approach

    What a great day out for you. Love the photographs, especially all the shades of blue cups !

    • Thanks so much! Still figuring out my camera haha

  • Stacey Sheppard

    Looks like such a lovely tour. I’d love to do it myself. I think it makes you appreciate products so much more when you learn the story behind them and see them being made.

    • 100% I definitely feel like I see the value better for things like this x

  • What a fun day out! I did this as a kid at Worcester porcelain, was fun to see the process. We have a Denby set and I love it a lot 🙂 I’d like more in my collection though…

    • Oh wow didn’t know there was one in Worcester! I have family there so might have to check it out

  • Alli Smith

    I’ve never been behind-the-scenes to see how pottery is made, so this was a fascinating experience. I’m looking forward to seeing the tile you made. What a fun trip!

    • It was a first for me too but loved it!

  • Jacqui @FlightsFancyMom

    This is great to read. I love pottery pieces, so, seeing behind the scenes is fun. Thanks!

    • Aw thanks Jacqui. I always love behind the scenes stuff – i feel like you appreciate it so much more

  • Paula

    What a cool opportunity! I love ceramics, so being able to get a behind the scenes look like that would be so amazing for me.

    • Go for it Paula 🙂 I’d highly recommend

  • This looks like such a fun experience. I’d love to see how pottery is made. I would have fun painting it too.

    • Absolutely – it would be such a relaxing day out

  • Vera Sweeney

    What a fun store to go shopping at!!! I would love to explore this store, looks like a ton of great options!

    • It really is. There’s a lovely store for anyone who doesn’t fancy getting hands on 🙂

  • dee

    I have always been a fan of pottery and how it is made. I took one pottery class in school and wasn’t that really good at it, but can appreciate anyone who has the skill and gift.

    • OH wow that sounds like a fab class in school!

  • That’s so interesting! I had no idea how complex the pottery process was. Those colors are absolutely beautiful.

    • Aren’t they stunning? I never realised so much of it was handmade.

  • Pam W

    There is nothing like handmade pottery. How cool that your mom is still using hers after all these years. I would definitely appreciate it more after visiting Denby Pottery Village.

    • I know! I’m so impressed it’s lasted so long 🙂

  • What a cute place to visit. I love clay pottery and would love to visit and buy some of this pottery for sure!

  • Dana Brillante-Peller

    I’ve never thrown a pot before and all of the pieces are gorgeous!!

  • This is way too cool! I have wanted to go to a pottery class for a long time now but have still yet to attend one.

    • Do it 🙂 I bet you could make some lovely gifts for Christmas!

  • TheNewClassy

    I got the chance to paint some pottery here a little while back. I really enjoyed it. It seems you did too. It is really fun to do.

    • Totally agree – I’ll certainly be going back!

  • Jeanine @ sixtimemommy.com

    This looks really cool. I’ve always wanted to work with clay and make a pretty pot, but I’ve never seen any behind the scenes stuff. It looks like it would be loads of fun!

    • It was actually much more difficult that I imagined but lots of fun! Go for it 🙂

  • How awesome! I have always wanted to go to a pottery studio and make something awesome!!

    • No time like the present 🙂 It was a great day out – would definitely recommend

  • So glad you had a really lovely time. I would love to spend an afternoon there. =)

  • chubskulit

    Oh my daughter would definitely love this place,. She is into pottery these days.

    • Aw that’s so cute! My daughter is too young but I can just feel she will love this creative kind of stuff

  • rika agustini

    I would love to visit this store! I love pottery and usually go to LA to buy my favorite pottery from local artists

    • How cool! That’s so great that you’re supporting local artists 🙂

  • Design_Soda_Ruthie

    Lovely pictures Karen, I really like Denby and own some but your pictures have made me think I need more! That’s great to know about the workshops, definitely a good tip for the future with Ted x

    • Thanks lovely 🙂 Absolutely – I think the kids will love it!

  • I’ve always fancied doing this – we’re not too far from Derby so maybe we will take a trip soon. Love that they do classes for kids too. You got some amazing pics x #HomeEtc

    • Absolutely! I’d definitely recommend 🙂

  • I must admit I have not given much thought to the behind the scenes on my favourite pottery I would love to tour this place one day

    • I was the same! Not really given it much thought beforehand but it was really fun

  • Caro Davies

    I LOVE this post!! When I read Sarah’s the other week I was SO envious!! This kind of thing is my favourite kind of day out — I went to the Moorcroft factory when I was younger; so amazing to see them creating all the pots. Would love to visit Denby! Thanks so much for sharing lovely — fab photography!!!! 🙂 Caro #HomeEtc