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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)