Belleek - an Irish story

Today I will tell the story or Belleek tea sets,, which I think is a very special story. If you ever thought Belleek fine china looks, sounds and feels unique, you are right. There is a backstory to this extraordinarily fine Irish eggshell porcelain, which has an unusually high amount of "frit" and therefore is thinner and finer than any other china. Pottery in Belleek (in the now Northern-Irish area of Fermanagh) had started in 1849 with John Caldwell Bloomfield, who was a wealthy land owner. During the Irish famine he realised that unless he would find a way for his tenants to make a profit off the land, they would starve. Agriculture had become impossible due to the diseases caused by mon

Of flowers, top hats and cravats

When seeing beautiful antique porcelain with bright flower decorations, people often have two assumptions: decorations must have been printed, and the flowers were probably made up by some imaginative artist. Right? Wrong on both counts! Up to the 1880s, when transfer printing techniques took a leap and potters such as Wileman became experts at making beautiful prints, all flowers were entirely hand painted. And they weren't made up by anyone; they were almost always naturalistic. To be a flower painter was a highly respected job, and I read in the personal memoirs of an English potter that unlike most other pottery workers, the painters would come to work in top hat and cravat and their wo

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