The art of porcelain making to reach its peak in China. The delicate craftsmanship and exquisite designs of Chinese porcelain made it a highly sought-after product in England during the late 18th century. The rich blue patterns, hand-painted on a bright white background, captivated the hearts of the English elite, who were willing to pay a hefty price to own these luxurious pieces.

Chinese porcelain, with its intricate designs and vibrant colors, represented a symbol of wealth and status. The blue patterns, known as "flow blue," were particularly popular among the upper class. This type of antique china, also known as transferware, was produced using a unique technique that unintentionally created a hazy quality in the design. The brilliance of the white background served as a striking contrast to the beautiful cobalt blue color of the decoration.

The production process of flow blue ware involved the application of decorative patterns using a paper stencil onto white-glazed blanks or standard pottery shapes. Some wares were even meticulously hand-painted, showcasing the skill and artistry of the craftsmen. Once the stencils were applied, the pieces were fired in a kiln, causing the stencils to burn away. This process resulted in the distinctive hazy effect that became synonymous with flow blue.

The blue glazes used in flow blue varied in shade, ranging from gray-blue to sometimes greenish blue, and even an inky blue. However, the most coveted and sought-after shade was the vivid cobalt blue. Its intense hue added a touch of opulence to the already luxurious porcelain, making it even more desirable among the wealthy class.

Mulberry, another form of flow blue, featured a glaze that leaned more towards a purple hue. This variation added a sense of uniqueness and diversity to the already vast array of flow blue designs. The popularity of mulberry flow blue further solidified the status of Chinese porcelain as a highly sought-after product in England.

The allure of Chinese porcelain, particularly flow blue, was not limited to its aesthetic appeal. It also represented a connection to the exotic and mysterious East. The intricate designs and vibrant colors transported the English elite to a world far removed from their own, evoking a sense of fascination and curiosity. Owning a piece of Chinese porcelain became a way for the wealthy class to showcase their refined taste and worldly knowledge.

In conclusion, Chinese porcelain, with its rich blue patterns hand-painted on a bright white background, was an extremely sought-after product in England during the late 18th century. It took over 100 years for English potters to duplicate the salt-glazed earthenware that created the brilliant white background, along with the application of cobalt oxide that made the Oriental blue patterns so attractive.


In the late 1700s, English potters created a technique for imprinting a design on china called transferware:

A copper plate is engraved with a design and heated.

Cobalt oxide is applied onto the engraved copper plate.

Damp tissue paper is then applied to the engraved copper plate.

The tissue is lifted off the copper plate and then applied onto the pottery.

Author: Dennis Stanford 

Elwood Antiques 

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