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Sunday, 9 January 2011


 I found myself at Tate Modern with 15 minutes until they opened, so walking by the river with sun illuminating the wobbley-no-more bridge, I noticed how very low the tide was – just time to do something I’ve always wanted to do – go mudlarking!  I’d heard about the masses of bits of clay pipes you can find and thought I could use them in my work if I found some. Here’s my first haul.  All stem pieces, no bowls but I love their textures and colours.
It’s amazing how old they are, from around 1600 onwards. I got fascinated so googled and found a lot of info on them, I liked Gia’s blog post, really informative and she found a really stunning piece that must be the find of all mudlark finds.
It seems odd to me that they were so disposable, often bought already filled with tobacco and never refilled but thrown away. I think of one-use-disposability as a modern thing, but clearly not. Maybe they blocked too easily with debris? I shall research more; I’m hoping to give mine another lease of life anyway and I may well become hooked on this mudlarking lark.


  1. Wow how fantastic. Mudlarking looks really brilliant. I can see how this could become quite addictive. Really enjoying your blog.

  2. Wow - Madeleine I'd never heard of mudlarking before - what finds!

    I've just checked out your link too - that little head figure that Gia found is particularly stunning! Next time I come to London I'll be letting you know so that you can take me to wherever this is! Is it really near the Tate?

    It's unbelievable that they are soooooo old too! To think they were just tossed into the Thames between 300-400 years ago - amazing! LOVE it!

    A x

  3. We used to find these in the garden, no more than 2 or 3 cms in length. Finding the bowl was very exciting. Were these just lying about or did you have to dig?

  4. Hi Visitors, Al, I went down the steps right in front of the Tate Modern but there are many places along the Thames where you can do this. And hello Lucille - no I didn't dig, I think you may need a mudlarks license (!) for that but I didn't need to, they're scattered around. Of course I was hoping I might chance upon a very valuable Celtic brooch, next time...


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