Lancashire-based sinks manufacturer, Shaws of Darwen has celebrated its 125th anniversary. To mark the anniversary it has released a unique heart-shaped concept sink, as the company was first established on February 14, 1897, St Valentine’s Day. The decision to put the sink into production will depend on a strong reaction from designers and consumers.
Founded in 1897 by Arthur Gerald Shaw, the company says it is Britain’s oldest manufacturer of fireclay sinks. It said to be established with a mix of Shaw’s Lancastrian mix of vision and pragmatism. He noticed that the ‘spoil’ brought up from the Darwen coal mine would be used as fireclay as it was excellent quality.
After resigning as manager of a colliery and built his own factory half a mile to the south to make use of the material. The factory techniques have remained the same throughout its 125-year-old history although the colliery has long been closed, and the clay is no longer delivered by horse and cart.
The company celebrates its British craftsmanship and how its sinks are handmade using techniques such as slip casting, glazing and hand finishing that have been passed down from artisan to artisan since it was established. Each sink takes around three to four weeks to make and currently the sinks will have a commemorative anniversary stamp.
Shaws kitchen and bathroom sinks are moulded from a unique amalgam of English and French clay – the exact formula is a closely-guarded secret. Made using a ‘slipcasting’ process, the blend of clay with water is poured by hand into a porous mould, which Shaws make themselves.
When the newly formed wash basin is dry enough to be handled, it is removed from the mould and skilled artisans then trim and finish the shape of each sink by hand – it takes five years to master this art. The sink must then dry slowly for up to 40 hours before being glazed – twice – and fired in specially designed kilns at temperatures of up to 1200 degrees centigrade. This creates an impermeable surface that is resistant to heat, impact, chemicals and stains – ideal for the tough conditions of a domestic kitchen and bathroom.
The new Gallery Collection has a bold look by combining history and heritage with abstract and illustrative patterned prints. The patterns take inspiration from nature and the new designs have a decorative detail on the front of the sink. The abstract patterns include Wild Grass, Blossom and Eucalyptus in a palette of blue, silver, blue and silver, and blue and gold. The sinks with silver or gold have a shimmering iridescent effect.
The six designs can fit into a range of designs from charming country cottages to chic urban lofts. As well as sinks, Shaws of Darwen also offers fireclay wash basins that can be a focal point in bathroom designs. The bathroom range complemented by an exclusive range of premium brassware by fellow British manufacturer, Perrin & Rowe.