Collecting
from nature

The miniature museum that
influences M A N I F E S T O
ceramics

"For as long as I can remember, my mother has taken me hunting for treasures washed up in the silt of old middens. One year she found handmade roman tiles and terracotta pottery rims... These were precious remnants of worlds, cultures and their respective inhabitants which had long since passed and were the first conscious experience I had with the properties of clay."
-Interview with Hege In France

Eroded Pebble

Found on a remote Scottish beach, this sandstone pebble has been bored into over the years by the Pholadidae mollusk, which carefully works its way into the soft stone. It's a slow process that results in gentle rolling mounds aided by erosion from the sea and is the perfect place for a small flower arrangement. 

Crinoid Fragments 

Found in a Scottish quarry, these small cylindrical fragments are the fossilised stems from Crinoids - a relation to starfish, sea urchins, and brittle stars. Abundant on seabeds for hundreds of millions of years, living crinoids can still be found on the sea floor today. This little collection is perfectly displayed in tiny glass jars on my studio shelves. 

Medieval Roof Tile

It is incredible to hold something so tangible to another world especially when you can feel the grooves of the craftsman’s fingers impressed into the rough clay. Found by my mother on the banks of the Thames, we believe that these roof tiles were discarded after the Fire of London in 1666. A nail or peg would have held the tile onto the joists through the hole in the clay, which appears to have been formed quickly by waggling a cylindrical tool or stick around.

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Clay Pipes

Found in the foreshore along the Thames and a small harbour in Scotland, this collection of clay pipe bowls are of varying ages and styles. Moulded in Earthenware clay in a variety of forms from utilitarian designs to more decadent ones, clay pipes were in use from the 16th - 18th century. Clay Pipes are abundant in many spots along the Thames, as they were sold pre-filled with tobacco and subsequently discarded into the river once smoked.

Red Deer Antler

This Red Deer Antler was found whilst wild camping in a silent, moss-covered forest in the Scottish wilderness. Belonging to a large 12 year old stag; it's a weighty and gnarled object that has been burnished to a deep chocolate brown by the pine sap of his woodland habitat. Every year, deer shed their antlers and for our stag, this happens when his testosterone decreases after the mating season in Autumn. Does keep their antlers until the spring, when their fawns are born. 

Post-Medieval Pottery Sherd

Found by my mother in the Thames foreshore, this beautiful remnant of a Post-Medieval vessel is a wonderous object to hold. The sherd features a gentle pattern of thumb imprints along the rim and a delicate carved surface which the mottled, green-brown glaze has pooled into.  A characteristic mark of early Post-Medieval pottery, the red clay has a core of dark grey in the centre, an indication that the pot wasn't fired to a high enough temperature. Pottery with an under-fired clay typically points to it being an earlier vessel from the 16th century or early 17th century. 

 

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Fossilised Spirifer

This little fossilised Spirifer was found at a Scottish Quarry and is approximately 359.2 to 299 million years old. The pride of my fossil collection, it's beautiful to turn slowly in your palm whilst watching the birds in the garden.

Oak Marble Galls

"Let there be gall enough in thy ink; though thou write with a goose-pen, no matter."

– William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene 2.

Foraged whilst walking through a local park, these hard, globe-like objects have a fascinating function and historical significance. 

Rich in Tannic Acid, Oak Galls have been used since the Roman Empire to create the black ink most commonly associated with Medieval Manuscripts. With over 70 species recorded in Britain alone, the Oak Marble wasp was introduced in the 1840s for the industrial production of ink and dye, which spread to the north of Scotland by the 1880s. Tips for collecting: look for galls which have a hole to ensure the Larvae has hatched!

Gall Wasps have fascinating and complex life cycles that impact the type and size of galls found. Linked below is a paper written by Graham N. Stone, Karsten Schonrogge, Rachel J. Atkinson, David Bellido, and Juli Pujade-Villar for further reading!

The Population Biology of Oak Gall Wasps

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Leaf Fossil
 
We split open a sedimentary rock last year and found this beautifully preserved leaf fossil inside.
It dates from the Carboniferous era, around 359.2 - 299 million years ago. Look closely for the delicate veins which have been preserved so beautifully for hundreds of millions of years. 

Roman Pottery Sherd
 
This sherd of Roman pottery was found whilst swimming at dusk in a Sicilian lake. In the approaching dusk, I looked down and saw a little grey rectangle poking through the silt at my bare feet. Incongruous against the surrounding round pebbles, I picked it up to inspect over coffee the following morning and to my delight, found that it was a pretty good spy!

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Tiny Finds

Left - A small fragment of Cairngorm Quartz, characterised by it's mysterious, smokey grey colour.

Middle - A small cluster of Calcite crystals found near an abandoned mine near Leadhills, Scotland. 

Right - A small fragment of a fossilised Productid shell which has calcite crystals growing underneath. 

Teasel

A little glimpse into Glasgow's past, this teasel was found in a historically industrial area in Glasgow's East End.  Teasels were useful in woollen textile manufacturing for centuries, where the spiked heads were used to brush woollen cloth to raise the 'nap' where it could then be clipped down to a smooth, wearable surface. After consulting many maps on the National Library of Scotland's online archive, the area held a nearby dye works, where teasels perhaps could have come in handy. 

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