After school, Bailey attended Stoke-on-Trent College. She obtained a B.Tec National Diploma (Ceramics) and then joined her father's new business LJB Ceramics, at the Old Ellgreave Pottery, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, which produced Toby Jugs and other decorated pottery, where she initially worked as a paintress. At the same time, Bailey began designing a series of highly colourful cottage & trees and abstract patterns reminiscent of the Art Deco pottery of Clarice Cliff. These were produced by the Old Ellgreave Pottery in vivid underglaze colours (unlike the on-glaze or overglaze decoration typical of Clarice Cliff ware). In December 1995, when Bailey was just 17 years of age, her House and Path and Sunburst patterns became the first to be put into full production. These were painted by Bailey and a small team of painters onto a range of traditional and Art Deco shapes, including vases, jugs, teapots, sugar shakers, cruets, candlesticks, and wall pockets. They were then sold primarily to trade buyers. In addition to being marked with a factory stamp, from the outset Bailey has personally signed almost every one of her pieces underglaze with the distinctive "Lorna Bailey" signature.
Since these early beginnings in 1995, Bailey has gone on to produce an extensive range and quantity of patterns and shapes which have attracted a strong base of collectors and a buoyant secondary market. There is a specialist category for Lorna Bailey on eBay which typically lists from 100 to 400 pieces. In 1998, Bailey received a considerable boost in popularity following an article in the July edition of Collect it! magazine, which featured her Astro Rocket Sugar Sifter on the front cover which the magazine had commissioned. This was produced in a limited edition of 250 available for purchase through the magazine (it sold out within hours). Following the huge interest that resulted, the Lorna Bailey Collectors Club was formed in September 1998. It now boasts over 1000 members worldwide. Bailey's success was further acknowledged when she was honoured as Midlands Business Woman of the Year for 1998.
As well as producing "open stock" designs, available through retailers, and some commissioned pieces, Bailey has increasingly specialized in producing small limited editions of 100 or fewer, aimed directly at collectors and sold through the Collectors Club. Since January 2001, all numbered limited editions (apart from Open Day specials) have been issued with a correspondingly numbered and signed laminated Certificate of Authentication. Collectors Club pieces are typically signed in blue, in contrast to the black signatures on open stock and other ware. Bailey also signs many pieces with a gold pen when these are purchased in her presence, for example at the twice-yearly factory Open Days which have taken place since 1999.
In addition to limited editions and early examples of Bailey's work, collectors also particularly seek out prototype pieces (generally marked "prototype" and usually painted by Bailey herself), other specials, colourway variations (pieces painted in alternative colour schemes) and "sleepers" (pieces painted in shapes that have been discontinued, or later shapes in patterns that have been retired).
In 1999, Bailey designed and marketed a range of StorAge furniture in highly innovative, angular designs, made specifically to display her pottery. Originally painted in bright colours, a number of unpainted cabinets were sold off at a discount to members of the Collectors Club in 2001.
From 2001, Bailey began to branch out more into the fancies line, with a range of ceramic figurines, birds and, in particular, a popular series of Kitty Katz cat figures. The shapes she has designed for vases, jugs, teapots, etc. have also become increasingly complex and eccentric in recent years as, for example, shown in the Fantasia Coffee Pot issued in 2003. Such radical ideas were, however, foreshadowed in the extraordinarily shaped Giant Teapot, issued in December 1999 in a limited edition of 25.
In March 2002, Bailey married Tim Proctor. This event was marked by the issue of a small ceramic wedding cake which was sent out as a gift to all Collectors Club members. On July 16 2002, the couple attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
In February 2003, LJB Ceramics changed its name to Lorna Bailey Artware. The following month, the factory moved into new premises at Top Bridge Works, Burslem. In October 2004, it moved again to its present site at The Old Post Office, Burslem.
In December 2005, Bailey issued the first of a series based on Pop and Rock Legends of the Twentieth Century with a ceramic figure of John Lennon dressed in the outfit pictured in the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Figures of the other Beatles later followed, together with other wares depicting members of the group. These were produced in collaboration with The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool.
In 2007, Bailey was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
In January 2008, Bailey announced her decision to retire from the pottery industry to concentrate on her family life.
MONEY : TREASURE HUNTERS: FOCUS ON Lorna Bailey Artware; TV's JAMES BREESE on the world of antiques and collectables.(Features)
May 01, 2005; Byline: JAMES BREESE Instant Expert ONE of the true stars of the modern ceramics world, Lorna has taken the collectables word by...