Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Acquisition: Pink Lustreware Tea Set

Pink lustreware tea service c.1820-30 now in the collection of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois, housed at Clarke House Museum.
Clarke House Museum recently received an English pink lustreware tea service c.1820-30. The set is almost complete with eleven cups an saucers, cake plate, serving bowl, sugar bowl, and teapot.  The Staffordshire porcelain features a transfer print design accented by lustre banding.

Lustre is a form of decoration that can be applied to any form of ceramic goods, whether earthenware or porcelain. The design is formed in metal, then dissolved in acid and applied as a thin film on top of the glaze. This can be brushed on or applied through a dipping process.When fired, the oxidized metal in the lustre solution is reduced to its original metallic form. When gold was used as the lustre metal on a light colored background it took on a pink sheen, as seen in the pieces here.

Sugar bowl and Creamer
Lustre was often combined with transfer printing. The design was first engraved on a copper plate to which a warmed printing ink would be applied. The plate would be wiped leaving ink only within the engraved lines. Next the copper plate was pressed evenly into strong tissue paper, picking up a mirror image of the design. The tissue paper was then applied directly to glazed pottery or porcelain transferring the design to the piece. Next the object, with tissue still attached, was submerged in cold water to harden the ink and wash the paper away. Hand-applied enamel colors might then be applied before finally being fired in a kiln.

Detail of Transfer Print

Nearly all fine china goods used in the United States during the early nineteenth century were imported from England. Mrs. Clarke might have received a tea service like this as a wedding gift upon her marriage to Henry Brown Clarke in 1827 and it is likely that the Clarkes owned at least one piece of lustreware when they set up house in Waterville, New York. This tea service will go on display in the study later this month. Be sure to look for it on your next visit to Clarke House Museum.

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