Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Belleek Newslettre (# 10.3)


Around the middle of May, I experienced the
most horrible of ALL experiences, which ANY of
us would NEVER wish for !!  That being, my
Computer decided to have a HDD Failure !!  In
lay mans terms, that’s a Hard Disk Drive Failure
and to a Computer, it’s like a Heart Attack !! 

In any case, as my CPU returned from hospice,
ANOTHER LONG story, I was to discouver that
NONE of my Back-Up CD’s would Read !!  I.e., I
was left with NOTHING for the past 10 Years !!

Since that time, I believe I’ve recouvered MOST
of my Data, etc., so, I’m off typing up another
Newsletter for all my avid readers out there !!
If you read my Newslettres regularly and DID NOT
receive an E-mail notification of this Newslettre,
PLEASE just drop me an E-mail and I’ll be sure to
get you BACK onto my Circulation list !!  THANKS !! 

Of course, if you’re NOT currently on my List and
would like to be in on my Mailing List, ALL you
need do is to drop me a SHORT note indicating 'that
you would like automatic notification of new
Newslettres' !!  And, BINGO, I'll ADD you to my
list and you'll begin receiving upcoming
Newslettre notifications !!
For those of you I've 'lost contact' with, if you 
WERE receiving my Newslettre and have NOT received
one in a bit, it's MOST probably due to a Change
in YOUR E-mail ID !!  Post me, i.e., E-mail, your
current ID and I'll get you back on my list !!


"Women are expected to do twice as much as men
in half the time.  Fortunately this isn't difficult."  
     -- Charlotte Whitton
         1st Female Mayor of Ottawa, Canada 


** BIG TEASE !! 

Within the next couple of months, there will be
a ‘major’ Belleek Collection being offered for
sale !!  I do not have the Address, i.e., Internet
Link, of the final Web Site, BUT I will be
publishing ALL available information as it
becomes available, hopefully, early in September
upon my return from Summer Holidays at the Antique
Fair in Chicago !!



As usual, the 2nd. largest antique fair in the
United States will again be held this Summer at
in Chicago at the Dearborn Convention Center,
the last weekend of August !!  For complete
details you may visit the Fairs Official Site at : 


Or you may wish to visit my Events Site at : 


This Fair will be celebrating their 30th
anniversary and
promises to be a GREAT show !!

As usual, I will be billeted at the Embassy
Suites, arriving
on Thursday evening and departing
Sunday !!   HOPEFULLY,
some of you Belleekers out
there, will also be in attendance
and will ring me ?? 
JUST call the Embassy Suites @
either (847) 678-4000
or (toll free) at (888) 476-7366,
ask for my room
and leave your name and number where I can reach you !!

** 2007 CONVENTION !! 

By now, ALL of you should have received your
Spring BCIS Newsletter !!  Included, you should
have discouvered an information bulletin and
registration form for our upcoming Convention
at the Belleek Pottery in Ireland, April 18 -
21, 2007 !! 

I won't repeat ALL the splendid information
here, BUT I will add a Link where you will
discouver identical information as well as a
Link JUST obtained, regarding a POST-Convention
Tour of Ireland !! 

For additional Registration Forms or Convention
Itinerary Information please visit the following
Site : 



We all have our time machines. Some take us back,
they're called memories. Some take us forward,
they're called dreams.  

     -- Jeremy Irons


By now, I’m sure all of you have heard the
calamity of the executive(s) from Coke ColaŽ
attempting to sell their privileged soft drink
component mixture to the executive(s) of their
rival Pepsi ColaŽ !!  Fortunately, somewhere in
this corporate espionage, an honest hero arises
and informs the proper authorities of their foul
intent !!  ZAPPED !!

In any case, and from what I’ll be presenting
further on down, I begin pondering the secret of
Belleek’s success with Parian China production
through its processing techniques with the slip
utilized in the manufacturing !!  So, exactly
what’s in Belleek’s Slip ??

First, a quick definition of Slip : A diluted clay
solution used for decorating or coating pottery or
for casting in a plaster or rubber mold. Slip cast
ceramics are easily recognized by their even
thickness (seen when broken) and smooth interior.

Richard Degenhardt discouvered that Belleek utilizes
China clay, feldspar, ground flint glass (common
window pane glass), frit (A vitreous or glassy
substance) and water in their ‘wonder’ Slip mix !! 
He also tells us the ratio of 32 ounces of water,
mixed with a pint of the dry ingredients, produces
the proper mixture !!  What he doesn’t tell us, or
at least I didn’t discouver at this time, was the
ratio of the dry ingredients !!

Word of the Day : Avoirdupois (av'ərˇdəˇpoiz') n.
The ordinary system of weights of the United States
and Great Britain in which 16 ounces avoirdupois
make a pound !!

Now, I remember a little jingle from grade school :
“A pint a pound, the world around” !!  So, are we
saying that the basic Belleek slip is approximately
two parts water to one part dry mix ??

And, what exactly is a ‘part’ ??  Well, parts
eventually relate to percentages, except, that
when we work with parts, the whole part or mix,
if you will, does not have to comprise 100% !!
One informal definition for a part is : One of the
individual entities contributing to the whole
in a component or ingredient.

An every day example of parts, is in the composition
of concrete !!  
Concrete is typically proportioned
as 1:2:5, i.e., one part of cement, two parts of
sand, and five parts of broken stone or gravel, with
the proper amount of water for a pouring consistency !! 
Note, the sum of the
three parts only total eight !! 
Also, note, that the ‘proper’ amount
of water is NOT
specified !!  So, basically, a part could be anything

from a teaspoon to a truckload, as long as it’s the
or consistent measure of each part !!

Further research lead me to the Ulster Museum, and a
document from their library stating that (Belleek’s)
composition was sixty-seven parts of artificially
crushed feldspar to fifty-five of kaolin (China clay) !!

Although they did not reference the additional dry
ingredients, I believe
from this statement that we
may assume, these
are the ‘major’ components of
Belleek’s Slip !! 

As a side note, the Ulster Museum also mentioned,
that in their production of electrical and telegraph
insulators, that Belleek utilized a slip mixture of
72% feldspar !!  NOW, that’s virtually ‘real’ glass !! 

Another quick definition : Feldspar : geologically,
a group of many types of silicates, mainly utilized
in making glass, etc. !!

So, you can see where we’re going from here, as you
increase the feldspar content or ‘parts there-of’,
the closer to actual glass we get !!  Thus, you can
see why Belleek is sometimes said ‘to be very close
to glass’ !!


From my reading and studies, of the three principal
founders of the Pottery, Mr. Robert Williams
Armstrong appears to have been the most involved
with the testing of the various slip formulas in
the production of different wares !!  In an
un-authored article in the Belleek Collector,
Volume 10, Number 2, 1999, I quote : “By 1875,
Belleek’s ever increasing portfolio included
“ Earthenware, Stoneware, White and Ivory China,
Parian and tiles.”  

This intrigued me, as VERY little mention, in ANY
reference, is made to Belleek’s Stoneware, more
less any mention of ‘White’ China !!  So, I
continued my investigation !!

But, before I proceed, I’d like to introduce
several definitions from the (on-Line)  Wikipedia
Dictionary of EACH item that Belleek was
including in its product line :

PORCELAIN (Originally, CHINA, from that country) :

“Porcelain is a hard ceramic substance made by
heating at high temperature selected and refined
materials often including clay in the form of
kaolinite. Porcelain clay when mixed with water
forms a plastic paste which can be worked to a
required shape or form that is hardened and made
permanent by firing in a kiln at temperatures of
between about 1200 degrees Celsius and about 1400
degrees Celsius. The toughness, strength and
translucence of porcelain arises mainly from the
formation at high temperatures within the clay
body of the mineral mullite (an aluminum silicate)
and glass.

“Porcelain was so-named after its resemblance to
the white, shiny Venus-shell, called in old
Italian porcella. The curved shape of the upper
surface of the Venus-shell resembles the curve of
a pig's back (Latin porcella, a little pig, a pig).

“Properties associated with porcelain include
those of low permeability, high strength, hardness,
glassiness, durability, whiteness, translucence,
resonance, brittleness, high resistance to the
passage of electricity, high resistance to chemical
attack, high resistance to thermal shock and high
elasticity.  (ED NOTE : Elasticity, here, refers
to the ability to mold the slip or clay
satisfactorily, i.e., it’s flexible and pliable
attributes prior to firing, NOT the idea that you
can bounce a plate off a wall successfully !!)

“Porcelain is used to make wares for the table and
kitchen, sanitary wares, decorative wares and
objects of fine art. Its high resistance to the
passage of electricity makes porcelain an ideal
insulating material and it is used in dentistry
to make false teeth, caps and crowns.

“The earliest porcelains originated in China. The
reader is referred to the Wikipedia article on
Chinese porcelain for a discussion on the early
history of the material.”


“Earthenware is a common ceramic material, which
is used extensively for pottery tableware and
decorative objects. Although body formulations
vary tremendously between countries, and even
between individual makers, a generic composition
is 25% ball clay, 28% kaolin (porcelain clay), 32%
quartz, and 15% feldspar. Earthenware is one of the
oldest materials used in pottery. While red
earthenware made from red clays is very familiar
and recognizable, white and buff colored
earthenware clays are also commercially available
and commonly used.

“Earthenware is typically bisque (or "biscuit")
fired at a temperature of around 1000 to 1150
degrees Celsius (1800 to 2100 degrees Fahrenheit),
and glaze fired (the final firing) at around 950
to 1050°C (1750 to 1925°F). The higher firing
temperatures that fuse the body and glaze of other
ceramics, will generally cause earthenware to crack.
After firing the body is porous and opaque with
colours ranging from white to red depending on the
raw materials used.

“Earthenware may sometimes be as thin as bone
china and other porcelains, though it is not
translucent and is more easily chipped. Earthenware
is also less strong, less tough, and more porous
than stoneware - but its low cost and easier
working compensate for these deficiencies. Due to
its higher porosity, earthenware must usually be
glazed in order to be watertight.”


“Stoneware is a category of clay and a type of
pottery distinguished primarily by its firing
and maturation temperature (from about 1200°C
to 1315°C). In essence, it is man-made stone.

“In contrast, earthenware is fired at lower
temperatures and is not impervious to liquids.
Porcelain, a type of stoneware developed in
China, is distinguished by the type of clay
used, kaolin, resulting in a pure white color.
Kaolin, or China Clay, which occurs in various
parts of the world, is often 95% free of
impurities. It is also fired to a vitreous state,
transforming the constituent silica to glass.
Some porcelain bodies are translucent after
firing. Firing a piece of pottery to too high
a temperature will result in warping or melting.
Vitreous clay bodies can be made at different
temperatures ranges, but they are typically
fired in the stoneware/porcelain range. Fired
stoneware absorbs up to 5% water, porcelain 0%,
and earthenware up to 10%. Earthenware, when
moist, is typically not freeze resistant.

“Clay refers to minerals of a plastic quality
formed primarily of alumina and silica. Potters
refer to combinations of clays mixed with other
materials as clay bodies. Different kinds of
clay bodies are created by mixing additives,
such as feldspar, grog, quartz, flint, many
other minerals are used and these can include
spodumene, wollastonite to modify natural clays.
Natural clays are thereby altered to fire at
specific temperatures. Darker clays often
contain iron and other metal oxide impurities.
The clay used for porcelain and white stoneware
clay bodies contain very little of these

“Glaze may be applied to stoneware pottery before
a second firing at a different temperature, or a
glaze may be applied before a single, raw firing.
Salt-glazed stoneware became the dominant
houseware of nineteenth century America.”


Bone china is type of porcelain body first
developed in Britain in which calcined ox bone,
bone ash, is a major constituent. It is
characterized by high whiteness, translucency
and strength.

“Bone ash was first used in ceramics by Thomas
in 1748 to make a type of soft-paste
porcelain. In the late 18th century, Josiah
Spode further developed its use by mixing it
with china clay, kaolin and China stone to
compete with the imported Oriental porcelain.

“Production usually involves a two stage
firing where the first, biscuit, is without
a glaze at 1280°C (2336°F) gives a translucent
product and then glaze, or glost, fired at a
lower temperature below 1080°C (1976°F).“

“PARIAN : (adj.)

1. Of or relating to the island of Páros or its
2. Of or being a type of white, semi translucent
   marble quarried at Páros and highly valued in
   ancient times for making sculptures.
Of or being a fine white porcelain.”

Note, that the word Parian is JUST an simple
adjective, meaning that
its proper utilization
is as a modifier to a noun !!  There is NO

individual definition of Parian as a porcelain
itself, BUT only
as you see in (3) above,
utilized to specify a type of china !!  Thus,
we discouver the synonymous naming for our
lovely Irish Belleek
Parian China !!

NOW, where was I going with all this ??

This spring, I found myself again, the
successful bidder on a pair of E-Bay Auctions,
both for an Egg Cup !!
Fortunately, the Pottery, via its Old Pottery
Photograph Album, has provided us with a
documented history of many of its more elaborate
items, many of which, are either no longer in
production or not know to exist in any modern
collections !! 

On the other hand, the smaller, more prevalent
production items were, seemingly, only displayed
in Pottery catalogues and sometimes not even via
this media !! I would speculate that this was
due to the labour intensive photographic process
of the 19th Century ??

In any case, what appears below, in a now modern
photograph, is a picture, for your discernment,
of both my recent acquisitions !!  Unfortunately,
I have been able to discouver VERY little of
either Egg Cup !! 

The Egg Cup on the right is 1st Period and the
ONLY reference I can find to it is in Lady Marion
Langham’s Major Work “Belleek Irish Porcelain”,
page 112, lower right picture, bottom row, right !!

The Egg Cup in her photograph is MUCH ‘nicer’ in
that is painted a ‘lime’ green and gilt !! 
I currently have designated this Egg Cup ‘Shell’
Pattern although, I’m toying with the possibility
that it may be an ‘early’ example of either
Institute or Victoria Ware ??   
ANY help you Belleekers out there can provide
is, as always, GREATLY appreciated !!  Keep in
mind that the pattern need include BOTH
ridges from shell surfaces as well as coral !! 
The Egg Cup on the left is also a 1st Period piece
and I believe it to be of Belleek’s Earthenware
Production Ware ??  

My query here, is whether or not this is the (fine)
White China that (Armstrong) references in his
journals ??  If so, I believe that this would be
included in one of the Pottery’s experimental
formulas involving Bone, i.e., Bone China Ware ?? 
Again, ANY further discussion my readers may
provide will definitely enhance this topic !!
The reason for presenting both Egg Cups in a single
frame, was such that you may clearly distinguish
the White (Bone) China from the Ivory (Cream) Colour
China we most associate with the production at
Belleek !!

Bone China and Shell Egg Cups !!

              A pair of unusual First Period Egg Cups !!
                      BOTH are 1st Period !!
            Bone Earthenware (I believe) on the left and
        Shell Pattern (for lack of better name) on the right !!

ENJOY and see ALL of you at the 2007 Convention !! 


Del E. Domke, Belleek Consultant
16142 N.E. 15th. Street

Bellevue,  WA    98008-2711

Telephone :  1 (425) 746-6363

Message :    1 (425) 746-6363
FAX :        1 (425) 746-6363
E-mail :     delyicious@comcast.net
Web-site :  The Beauty and Romance of Irish Belleek
  (or) :