Director of Studies: Professor Stephen Hoskins
Other members of the proposed supervisory team: David Huson
Professional partner: Burleigh Pottery
Project details:
The Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE Bristol invites applications for a three-year full-time Doctoral studentship, fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), to undertake an object based research project to revitalise an extensive archive of Victorian patterns which have not been in the public domain for up to 100 years.  We are seeking applicants who can undertake an investigation into materials for roller composition married to new safer lead-less inks and exploit an archive containing an extensive pattern collection in the form of hand-engraved copper plates and copper rollers.
The Centre for Fine Print Research have been collaborating with Burleigh Pottery since 2013 to undertake pioneering research into Burleigh’s underglaze tissue printing production to embed an innovative process combining digital technology and traditional craft skills. The Centre for Fine Print Research has internationally-renowned expertise in the practical integration of 19th century printing processes with digital technology, and was instrumental in establishing flexography as an intaglio process. Our research has proved that the traditionally relief flexographic printing process and laser engraving can be used to create intaglio printing rollers using digital capabilities. Knowledge of traditional and modern printing media recipes have also been used to formulate new less harmful inks for Burleigh’s process.
Underglaze tissue printing is a printing process first developed for the ceramic industry in the 1780s, where engraved or etched copper plates print tissue with cobalt blue oxides. Burleigh is the only pottery producer in the world that still uses this process commercially. Maintenance and creation of plates is increasingly difficult; skilled hand engravers are no longer available, and the fragile original plates have a very limited lifespan before they need re-engraving by hand. Maintenance is currently only carried out on only the core patterns sold by the company, using traditional engraving techniques, but this is very limited and time consuming, meaning that only small amounts of repair can be carried out at a time before rollers are required back in production. The company has a collection of over 1000 pieces of copper engravings in both roller and flat forms in various degrees of deterioration. There is also an imbalance between flat and cylinder engravings, with more one off flat plate engravings. Cylindrical engravings are in general used for the decoration of holloware pieces i.e. cups, jugs, shaped bowls and larger serving pieces, with flat engravings used for pad printing onto flatware pieces such as plates and bowls. The Centre for Fine Print Research have been working with the company to introduce new technology which allow the company to take these flat images and quickly develop new cylindrical engravings and therefore develop wider ranges of patterns for customers.
The student will be expected to undertake some research at Burleigh’s Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. The Centre for Fine Print Research has a strong track record of successful PhD completions and our doctoral programme provides a thriving intellectual community, with students from around the world researching into aspects of multi-disciplinary print. We expect research students to take a full and active role in the Research Centre including taking part in regular workshops, conferences and seminars. Knowledge and experience of print technologies, underglaze printing and ink recipes using linseed oil will be an advantage. The PhD candidate will be given freedom to develop his/her own dissertation topic within the wider remit of this project. The studentship commences October 2017.
Applicants will be expected to attend an interview and demonstrate:
• imaginative and viable preliminary ideas for research into this subject area
• an appreciation of the nature of PhD study and of both independent and collaborative research
• clear motivation for undertaking PhD study in Bristol in this subject area
• evidence that you have, or can develop, the skills required to start the proposed research
For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email