15 October, 2018
We are proud to introduce our new Fisherman's Smock. This venerable piece of workwear has been an essential outer layer for British fishermen for over a century, but it has also been popular with painters, sculptors, potters, craftsmen… and shopkeepers! So what is it and why do we like it?
The fisherman’s smock is a classic example of functional, utilitarian clothing. The Folkestone fisherman pictured above is wearing the traditional pocketless version. Smocks were originally cut from sailcloth, making this garment a strong and sturdy extra layer. This kept the wearer warm and dry, protected his woollen jumper, and was comfortable and easy to work in. The slightly shortened sleeves prevented the cuffs getting wet - a feature also seen on Guernsey jumpers and Breton shirts - while the tight fit and high neck ensured maximum protection from the elements.
By 1910, the heyday of the herring industry, smocks were being supplied to fishing communities throughout Great Britain. But it wasn’t just a uniform for fishermen to work in - the practical, utilitarian nature of the fisherman’s smock meant it was adopted by many artists and artisans.
The cheap, tough, easy to find smocks provided the perfect protection for artists as well as sailors. Here, sculptor Barbara Hepworth wears a smock as she sketches. In the early decades of the twentieth century, St. Ives in Cornwall became a popular destination for artists. We can well imagine they were inspired by the clothing worn by local mariners, such as this rather motley bunch from along the coast in Mousehole, whose white smocks betray their sailcloth origins.
In-keeping with these origins, our smocks are also made from sailcloth fabric, which washes and ages beautifully, very much like good denim. The only alteration we have made to the original are longer sleeves and a triple patch pocket.
Whether for sailor or sculptor, the fisherman’s smock remains a functional and timeless garment.
Pictures from the National Maritime Museum Archive and the Pentreath Photographic Archives. Photograph of Eli Farrow the fisherman by Walter Clutterbuck, from the Norfolk County Council Library.
01 October, 2018
The German enamel ladle, with its utilitarian form and mottled decoration, contrasts with the Japanese, made from the surprising material choice of wood. The enamel ladle is almost exclusively for food, whereas the wooden ladle can be found at the entrance to tea gardens for the washing of hands.
11 September, 2018
Cauldon Ceramics of Staffordshire maintain the tradition of red ware 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.The Re-Engineered Brown Betty Teapot is available to purchase on Saturday 15th September from our Redchurch Street shop and online later this Autumn.
09 September, 2018
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.
06 September, 2018
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 efforts, escape.
02 September, 2018
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 a 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.
01 September, 2018
The Japanese jug demonstrates the preference for a matt surface glaze. It has no handle- it is simply grasped. Though not actually hand thrown, this jug clearly has many attributes of a craft object. Paradoxically, the British ‘Denby' jug is in fact handmade, but strives to achieve the uniformity of mass production.
30 August, 2018
For London Design Festival 2018, Labour and Wait is excited to present the Re-engineered Brown Betty Teapot. The new teapot is the result of a three year research and development project by ceramic designer Ian McIntyre.
Ian has worked closely with Cauldon Ceramics of Staffordshire, the oldest remaining maker of the traditional Brown Betty teapot, to bring his vision to life. New production processes have been implemented and past innovations such as the ‘locking lid’, and ‘non-drip spout’ have been reintroduced.
The teapot incorporates a removable metal strainer for loose-leaf tea, whilst subtle adjustments to the foot and neck, enable the teapots to be stacked efficiently in the factory and subsequently in cafes and restaurants.
This re-engineered teapot retains the best features from the classic Brown Betty, and by virtue of its refinements, brings this everyday archetype up to a new standard of discreet functionalism.
The new teapot will be available for purchase in the shop from Saturday 15th September, and online later this Autumn.
London Design Festival runs from Saturday the 15th, until Sunday the 23rd of September. Ian will be on hand throughout Thursday 20th September, should you wish to meet the maker and discuss his creation.
Teapot image by Milo Reid
01 August, 2018
A balloon whisk in stainless steel contrasts with the exquisite delicacy of a Japanese tea whisk. The Japanese ‘Chasen’ is used to mix green matcha powder with hot water, and is an essential element of the traditional tea ceremony. The ubiquitous Western balloon whisk does not carry connotations of refinement and formality.
01 July, 2018
Two traditional lunch boxes. The marbled enamel example is from France, where lunch boxes of this type were used by labourers and schoolchildren alike. The interior reveals a small, lift out tray for bread. The circular box in Japanese cedar likewise has a removable inner tray. Its smooth flawless finish makes it a joy to handle.
01 June, 2018
This simple Japanese ‘Yunomi’ is an everyday cup for tea drinking. Sensibilities towards crockery can differ between East and West. The Western ceramic traditions tends to favour smooth, shiny surfaces. In Japan, uneven, often matt textured surfaces are not uncommon. The classic British ‘Berylware’ cup and saucer reminds us of summer fetes and vicarage tea parties!
01 May, 2018
These paintbrushes, though superficially similar, are constructed in quite different ways. Is it just familiarity with the Western example that makes the Japanese brush so interesting? The single piece handle divides to grip the bristles tightly and has an undeniably Eastern line.
01 April, 2018
The ‘Tawashi’ scourer is made from Hemp Palm fibres bundled together around a wire core. Highly tactile objects, these scourers are still commonly used in Japan. In Western kitchens, the knitted, metallic scourer is a more familiar sight. Seen here out of context, each scourer assumes characteristics of a surrealist art object.
01 March, 2018
These two caddies are similar in form, but on different scales. Since the 1930s, Cornishware has been instantly recognisable in Britain, with its coloured stripes evoking the sea and skies of Cornwall. The size of this caddy makes it a perfect container for tea bags. Meanwhile, the traditional Japanese example is used for loose tea. It is handmade from raw tin and is intended to develop a weathered patina with use. Also shown is the copper scoop, which normally lives inside the caddy.
28 February, 2018
Introducing the E2 jean, exclusive to Labour and Wait.
Specified by us and manufactured in Walthamstow, London, these jeans are cut in a relaxed heritage fit, with a straight leg.
They are made from 14.5oz selvedge denim, with great attention paid to the detailing and construction. This includes hidden rivets, a reinforced back pocket and a patch made from our iconic canvas apron fabric.
Our jean is suitable for both men and women.
01 February, 2018
Here we find two opposite approaches: The Japanese saw cuts on the pull stroke whereas the traditional Western saw cuts as you push. The different methods have evolved because of the types of wood they were required to cut. The refined Japanese saw works well on a soft wood like cedar; the more robust European saw tackles harder woods such as oak.
01 January, 2018
Tea is considered a national drink in both Japan and Britain. The aesthetic of both teapots is redolent of their culture. The traditional Brown Betty is a common sight on many British breakfast tables. This classic round teapot, made from the red clay found in Staffordshire, is considered the ideal shape for producing the perfect cuppa. In Japan, the iron ‘Tetsubin’ teapot is favoured for both heating and brewing, partly because the iron changes the taste of the water, making the tea mellow and sweet.