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Penarth Pavilion – Refurbishment & Success 23rd September 2014

In 2012 a request was made for a mural to be inlaid in the entrance foyer of the Penarth Pier, to be included as part of its refurbishment. After submissions were considered, Jean Powell was commissioned to design the ceramic feature mural to be set into the floor. Jean in turn asked Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales if she would be pleased to be involved. She was delighted and wrote several original lines of poetry to be included.

Two successful women prominent in their field

Gillian and Jean flipped

Jean Powell, creator of the mural and Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales

The design of the mural focuses on boats and mythical sea creatures, etched and modelled into the clay. The well remembered paddle steamer (which still makes occasional visits- you can book trips on-line!) is included in the design, it having a history of visits to the pier, dating back to the opening in 1895. Such has been the manner in which the mural is received and commented upon, the Pier management decided to use elements taken from the design to decorate artefacts and postcards that can be bought in the shop.

The mural is located on the first floor in the middle of the entrance. It cannot be avoided by visitors who walk across its surface (the work is made out of a very robust stoneware clay!) and can also be viewed from a circular gallery above.

Interior copy

The finished piece, which was laid in the entrance of the foyer

Since the Pier’s opening it has received critical acclaim including ‘Most Treasured Landmark’ which was part of a major campaign by the National Trust Wales. Decided by a public vote culminated and announced at the National Eisteddfod in Llanelli. Penarth Pier’s director Dr David Trotman said ” I am delighted that Penarth Pier has been crowned the Nations special place, it is great to see that is so special to the people of Wales”

The Refurbishment began in 1994 at a cost of £650,000, including crucial repairs to stem the on going deterioration at the entrance of the Pier. A little over 2 years later a further £1.7 million was spent to ensure that the Pier had the attention it needed. In total the £3.9 million refurbishment scheme involved the restoration and re development of the Pavilion for use as a cinema, café observatory and multi purpose community complex.

Penarth Pier is one of the last remaining Victorian piers in Wales and Craig Bragdy Design are proud to have played a small part in such a unique project.


Posted: September 23rd, 2014 Category: Design Comments: (0)

The Globe: Glazing 6th August 2014

Glazing of the work is an intricate part of our ceramic process, a process that ensures all of the colours are utterly and totally permanent – completely suitable for its extreme location. There have been two ceramic materials and two techniques employed on this project. The materials are engobes and on-glazes each serving a particular purpose and each creating specific effects. The glazes are applied using hand brushes and air brushes.

Spray glazing is a vital part of the process – unifying the continents and bringing together a multitude of specially mixed colour (we specifically mix all glazes for each project) to bring cohesion and continuity to the work.

All glazing took place on our flat factory floor and you’ll see here that the fit of the tiles is not perfect – unplanned for fissures appearing in random places. Our final stage of production will bring the tiles back to the former – the curvature the ceramics were originally planned for.

Posted: August 6th, 2014 Category: Design Comments: (0)

Maine Road Project – Installing 6th August 2014

Craig Bragdy are pleased to announce the grand opening of the Maine Road mural, which took place on Wednesday 16th July and was a huge success.

Broadbent studios along with the school children that helped to create and design the artwork were able to enjoy the grand opening of Gibson’s Green, the centre spot of the former home of Manchester City Football Club, Maine Road.

It has been said that the children are delighted with the finished public artwork and are really pleased that they could contribute to such a wonderful project.

Posted: August 6th, 2014 Category: Design Comments: (0)

Maine Road Project, Manufacturing 25th June 2014

The design and manufacture stage of the Maine Road project is well under the way here at Craig Bragdy.

Once the design had been approved, work could then begin in transferring the art onto our clay. As mentioned in the first blog, a group of school children came together and created faces that would be placed on a mural at the old football ground in Manchester.

design and manufacture of ceramics

Clay process

Before being laid onto the factory floor, the clay is pugged and de aired to ensure it has an immaculate working surface.

Once this has been done, a group of artists start transferring the design in this case ‘the faces’ and background texture onto the clay.

When the transaction of drawing, carving and modelling the surface is complete, it is then cut into tiles.

This is followed by numbering the tiles which is crucial for when laying the mural back out once it has been fired.


Maine road ceramic glazing


The clay is then sent for its first firing, the firing temperature will be 1240 degrees where the clay will then vitrify, which therefore means no moisture can penetrate through, it gives it strength, becomes frost proof and mildew is unable to grow.

Before being re- fired ‘Engobe’ (a mixture of clay and glaze) is then sprayed onto the surface of the clay, this creates a blank canvas so the artists can start building the colour and design.

The Maine road project is due to be installed in July, Craig Bragdy are looking forward to seeing the finished product on site, keep posted for the final installation pictures.

Maine road handmade ceramics

Posted: June 25th, 2014 Category: Design, PROJECT Comments: (0)

The Globe: Claywork 2nd June 2014

Each continent began its life as a single, smoothed, sheet of clay. An outline of each continent was marked on the surface of the gypsum plaster and then clay was laid across it to form one huge sheet. Throughout production, longitude and latitude lines have been used as reference – the only consistent and accurate means to transfer information reliably from former to globe.


Once smooth, the wet clay surface needed to be marked out with the outline of each continent before adding the detail within – valleys, rivers, mountain ranges, deserts, forests, lakes – all in three dimension, modelled to the surface. Each significant geographic and topographic feature appearing in the finished work.

ceramic globe project

A team of people were required to complete the work – over 400 square metres in total. Logistics, planning, team work and supervision were all important. Here you see the landmass of Australia begin to take shape, team members working on the mountain ranges up the east side of the country, with the northern tip of Queensland visible, top right.

GLOBE HANDMADE CERAMICS CLAYWORK 3The sheet of clay had to be cut in to tile shapes to, in effect, create one of the world’s largest jigsaw puzzles. In this project all cutting was to take into account the ‘lie-of-the-land’, the strata – there needed to be a character and a rhythm to the cutting that would reflect the contours of the earth. On completion there will be over 33,000 pieces to this jigsaw, each and every one numbered and logged.
Firing to 1240℃ ensures full vitrification of the clay and with this comes strength and longevity. The rigours of the Arabian climate will have no effect on these ceramics – the colours are permanent, the tiles inert and the adhesive tried and tested!


Posted: June 2nd, 2014 Category: Design, PROJECT, THE GLOBE Comments: (0)

Maine Road Project, Manchester May 2014 12th May 2014

Manchester-City-Fc100pxCraig Bragdy would like to introduce you to a new project for the old football ground on Maine road in Manchester.

Stepping away from the usual luxurious swimming pools that we create in the most spectacular places, Craig Bragdy were approached by Broadbent studios who conceive and champion public art and design projects in collaboration with architects and urban designers.


At nearly 13metres wide, the mural will depict the crowd looking over the old centre spot. Children from a local school were asked to create and design images of their faces so that they can all be part of the crowd.

Manchester City football club occupied the Maine road football ground in Moss side for 80 years from 1923 until 2003 and Craig Bragdy are very proud to have created what will be, a spectacular mural to mark the old centre spot and we thank the school children for their amazing efforts.

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Two of the original designs made by the children

The client had clear ideas and instructions of what they envisioned the final design to look like, we have incorporated the children’s designs into to some classic Craig Bragdy textures. We can’t wait to get started on this unique project!


Maine road ceramic 2

Posted: May 12th, 2014 Category: Design, PROJECT Comments: (0)

The Globe: building the forma 1st May 2014

Work has begun on building the forma for a more unusual project that we are embarking on – and that is to clad a 25m high sphere that will become a news agency headquarters in Saudi Arabia. The tiles will be made on this forma so they fit the curvature of the building.

Building the forma

Building the forma

Building the forma

The forma has to be a perfect replica of the curvature of the building – to ensure the handmade ceramics
fit the building perfectly.


Once the claywork has been fired, the forma will be dismantled and rebuilt to accommodate shrinkage – a common behaviour of clay.

Before clay is fired, it is very pliable and contains a great deal of water. As it dries and the water evaporates the clay particles contract causing the tiles to shrink by about 10%.

The fired tiles will need to be laid out and modelled around the slightly smaller version of the forma before the next stage of the ceramic process can begin– the application of colour.

Posted: May 1st, 2014 Category: ARCHITECTURE, Design, PROJECT, THE GLOBE Comments: (0)

Penarth Pier Pavilion Mural 17th December 2013

A request was made in 2012 for a ceramic mural to be inlaid in the entrance foyer of Penarth Pier. The design finally chosen was made by Craig Bragdy’s founder and designer in chief, Jean Powell, of Denbigh, North Wales.

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The mural, three meters in diameter – was made in high-fired stoneware clay and represents a compass gleaming with gold and copper lustres; the centre of a decorative chart of sea and sands depicting the amazing high tides and nautical history of Penarth.

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Boats and mythical sea creatures are etched and modeled in the clay. The well remembered and loved paddle steamer ‘’The Waverley’’– and a small Welsh coracle; sea birds, fish and nautical instruments can be discovered within the design. The radiating rhumb lines – ancient aids to navigation stretch across the design from their ‘”roses”.

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Gillian Clarke, the Poet of Wales, who coincidentally has spent much of her life in Penarth, especially created some beautiful words of poetry, which are included in the textures of sand and sea. Like the ‘learner of the year’ trophy for this summer’s National Eisteddfod, that Craig Bragdy were pleased to produce, wooden printing blocks from Gwas Gee, were also used for this design.

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We were very pleased to make this small intricate piece for Penarth; so different from the large murals and swimming pool installations we are normally commissioned to make for countries worldwide.

The mural can be seen from a viewpoint on the first floor. With some of the original architectural features of the pier included. With the Pavilion due to be fully accessible by January 2014 we hope that this attraction will enhance this seaside town for many years to come.


Posted: December 17th, 2013 Category: Design, Penarth Pavilion, PROJECT Comments: (0)

The Globe: a step away from our traditional pool designs… 14th October 2013

We are excited to be part of a more unusual development this year that’s being constructed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a national news agency headquarters.

Artist’s impression of the finished building


One part of the Saudi Press Agency’s new building will contain a 26 metre high, globe shaped auditorium with capacity for more than 420 people.

This huge ball, the formas for which have been engineered in Austria, will be decorated with 420m² of especially made curved ceramics to make it look like the world or ‘The Globe’.


The Globe takes shape on site

There are challenges to consider in both the manufacture and installation with an industrial sized project like this – curvatures for shrinkage, wet size to dry, simple measurements for locating and sizing the work – not to mention the work required to install tiles to a surface that is, in effect, upside down or ‘inverted’.

As part of our initial stages of research a simple inflatable globe was used as a marker of scale (conveniently we found one perfectly scaled to reference to the actual globe).

The next step in the process will be to make a wooden replica or ‘forma’ upon which the clay can be modelled.

Careful calculations allow us to build a wooden replica of the curvature of the building.

Posted: October 14th, 2013 Category: ARCHITECTURE, Design, News, PROJECT, THE GLOBE Comments: (0)

Craig Bragdy at the Eisteddfod 20th August 2013

National Eisteddfod 2013

First Minister Carwyn Jones meets directors Shon and Nick Powell and Craig Bragdy founder, Jean Powell

We were really pleased to welcome the First Minister Carwyn Jones to our stand at Wales’s National Eisteddfod (the largest and oldest cultural event in Europe) which was hosted here in Denbigh at the beginning of the month.

Craig Bragdy’s founder Jean, with sons (and company directors) Nick and Shon, were there to welcome him to the Visual Arts Pavilion, which housed the work of some of Wales’s leading artists.

Following Assembly Member Ann Jones’s visit to the factory in June, the First Minister had expressed a keen interest in visiting Craig Bragdy and praised us for our innovation in swimming pool design.

Shon commented “The Eisteddfod was a great opportunity for us to showcase who we are and what we do, bringing an awareness of Craig Bragdy and the employment opportunities we have to more people throughout Wales

We were proud to sponsor this year’s Gold Medal for Craft and Design, which was won by Barmouth born artist Theresa Nguyen and celebrated innovation, excellence and commitment in contemporary and applied arts.

In addition to the above, Jean also designed the ‘Learner of the Year’ trophies that were presented at a special event at Denbigh’s Brookhouse Mill (coincidentally, where the earliest days of the Craig Bragdy business were spent).

The inspiration for the design of the trophies came from an old letterpress alphabet rescued from Gwasg Gee – the oldest print works in Wales. Now closed, Denbigh’s Gwasg Gee produced works that helped keep the Welsh language alive when it looked certain to disappear – a fitting link for this particular Eisteddfod award.

We’re looking forward to being part of next year’s National Eisteddfod in Llanelli.


Claywork of the trophy and some of the letterpress alphabet rescued from Gwasg Gee

'Learner of the Year' 2013 trophy

National Eisteddfod ‘Learner of the Year’ 2013 trophy

'Learner of the Year' 2013 runners up trophy

National Eisteddfod ‘Learner of the Year’ 2013 runners up trophy


Posted: August 20th, 2013 Category: Eisteddfod, History, News Comments: (0)