Perfect Pieces Specialists in British Pottery

Three Techniques: Many Styles

Most decorative pottery made in the last 100 years features one or more of just three basic techniques:

Although it might seem a limited selection, an almost infinite variety of styles and appearances can be created through skilled use of this trio.

Transfer Printing

Perhaps most widely associated with late 19th and early 20th century blue and white wares, transfer printing gained a new lease of life when it was used to apply complex patterns in gold - a style much in vogue in the 1920s and 30s.

Early Maling Pottery Lustre Bowl Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Daventry Z5419 design bowl, designed Daisy Makeig-Jones Carlton Ware Chinese Figures 3199 Pattern Lidded box
Examples of Maling, Wedgwood and Carlton Ware gold transfer printing.

Maling, Wedgwood and Carlton Ware were all fine exponents of this technique and used it to great effect on their lustre wares. Gold register (transfer) printing involved applying the transfer using a substance such as linseed oil, rather than ink. Gold dust was then sprinkled over the piece - adhering only to the oiled pattern.

Hand Painting

Perhaps it is unfair to group such a broad set of skills under one heading - but there is no doubt that the application of colour by hand has given rise to a breathtaking variety of wonderful styles and designs.

Poole Pottery Handpainted Delphis Charger Crown Devon Fieldings Galleon pattern jug pattern M169, c1930s-mid 1940s Early Poole Pottery Vase Truda Carter CO Pattern, Clarice Heath (Drew) 1929-1940, Shape 203 Carlton Ware Handcraft vase in the Delphinium pattern 3273 c1929-1939
Examples of Poole's Delphis, Crown Devon, Carlton Ware's Handcraft and Poole's Traditional ware, all handpainted.

From the bold strokes of 1960s studio pottery through to the intricately painted and enamelled decoration of earlier Art Deco and Chinoiserie-styled pieces - all this colour was applied by the skilled hands of legions of (mostly) female decorators.

Indeed, the fineness of the detailing required for some pieces meant that only those still in their teens and early 20s had sharp enough eyesight for the work, which could only be done for a few years.

Slip Trailing

Moorcroft Pottery tube lining example Sometimes known as "tube lining", slip trailing is a technique that has become particularly associated with Moorcroft pottery. It has been surprisingly widely used, however, with many other potteries and designers appreciating the characteristic look it provides. Moorcroft Pottery Deep Blue Vase

Slip (liquid clay) is applied in a thin line to the undecorated body of a piece. Once dried, colours can be applied by hand to the piece, remaining separated by the trailed design.

Slip trailing creates an attractive relief effect and provides a convenient means of separating hand-applied colours.

Finishing Touches

I hope this newsletter has illustrated the breadth of effect achieved by just a few core techniques; by combining these with different glazes, firing routines and clays, the possibilities are almost endless.

Best Wishes,

Perfect Pieces


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