Sunday, December 18, 2016

Belleek Newslettre (# 20.2)


Wishing you all a most joyful Holiday Season with my
best wishes for a healthful, peaceful and prosperous
New Year !!

Swedish Boda Shop Penguin Treat Mix Dispensers !!
      A Collection of my Boda (Body) Shop Penguins from Sweden !!

The marble, to the immediate left of the rightmost
penguin is from Boyd's Crystal Art Glass Works,
Cambridge, Ohio, USA !!  As is the Marble Stand !!


NO LONGER TENTATIVE !!  Ms. Johannah Purdon,
our faithful event organizer, HAS FINALIZED a
Belleeker Gathering at the Belleek Pottery in Ireland
this coming Spring Time !!

Dates are April 28th thru 30th, 2017 and we'll be
staying at the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Chalet !!
This is the same Hotel we spent our 150th Anniversary
at !!  You may wish to contact Johannah, directly, if
you believe you'll be attending as follows :

E-mail : gracie@AlwaysLuv2Shop.com
Télè : 201-314-8072

You may also wish to obtain Gathering Updates and
Registration Forms directly from my 'Upcoming Events'
Site at :

Belleek Events !!

If you require surface (bus) transportation from the
airport to our hotel, you may locate some helpful
information directly from my 'Transportation Site' at :

Gathering Transportation !!

I’ll be posting Updated information promptly as I
Receive it !!  I can't stress this more !!  It's VERY
important to contact Johannah ASAP if you plan on
attending OR even ‘believe’ you MAY attend !!

AND, as ALWAYS, PLEASE pass this on, i.e.,
[FORWARD] to ALL your Belleeker friends and
acquaintances !!


      FIERCE Zombie Gladiator !!
            Since you last viewed Scholar Lincoln,
          he has evolved into a Zombie Gladiator !!

I ‘believe’ I’ve got his description proper, as you
would have to study to become a Gladiator, then get
ravaged by a Zombie, i.e., Zombie is the Adjective
describing the Gladiators (Noun) fate !!

He now spends his nights dragging about on one leg,
drooling and terrorizing the parks of Portland !!


This is more of an intent to force me to quit with my
procrastinative tendencies and publish my Current
Newslettre in a timely fashion and enthusiastic attempt
for all you Belleekers out there, hopefully enjoying a
SPLENDID Festive Season, to Receive this PRIOR to
our Holiday Recess !!

This four part discussion following is an addendum
to my Previous Newslettre in which, as you may recall,
I presented a few of my Collections examples of our
Pottery’s Scenic Transfer on various wares !!  It was
prompted by my acquisition of a SPLENDID example
of a Belleek Stoneware Plate of ‘unknown’ pattern,
embellished with aforementioned Scenic Transfer !! 


Enquiring Minds want to Know .. .. I guess ..

A Brief History of Decals
      by Jon Simmons

[Note: This is not a critically researched history.
            It is a generally accurate overview.]

The progress of the invention of the decal is
comparable to the progress of the invention of
the wheel.  When we compare today's steel-belted
radials to yesterday's wooden oxcart wheels, they
hardly seem to have anything in common.  So it was
when decals first come on the scene.

About 1750, a Frenchman named Simon François
Ravenet perfected a way of engraving on copper plates
so that under-glaze colors could be rubbed onto the
heated plates, then tissue paper would be pressed
onto the color, which would adhere to the tissue
paper, which was then removed and transferred to
the awaiting bisque or greenware to be decorated. 
Typically, the bisque or greenware was coated with
a tacky varnish, which would hold the color while the
tissue paper was removed, after which the piece was

Well, if you engraved to the right depth, and used
the right mixture of colors, and heated the copper
plate to the correct temperature, and used the right
kind of tissue paper (which had to be hand made in
those days; the paper-making machine wasn't invented
for another 70 years), and you used the right pressure,
and applied them in the correct way... you too could
decorate with decals!

Now if that seems like a lot of work, you're right! 
But in the good old days, that was the only way you
could mass-produce ceramic ware with pictures on it. 
By way of example, two guys from Liverpool, England,
John Sadlier and Guy Green, signed an affidavit on
July 27, 1756, certifying that they had hand-
decorated 1200 tiles in one 6 hour day for Josiah
Wedgwood (ring a bell?).  And that's a lot of tile! 
It figures out to about 200 tiles per hour, or 3 tiles
per minute.

Now Wedgwood had to send those tile to Sadlier &
Green's factory by pack horse because decorating
with decals was a new technology and was kept a
closely guarded secret.  (That is, until someone who
was working for you learned how it was done and then
went out and started their own factory.)  So it was,
in the beginning, decorating with ceramic decals was
a highly technical process, that only the initiated few
could render.

In the 1750's and 1760's, Robert Hancock used
Ravenet's engraving techniques to produce the best
designs of that era.  His apprentice, Thomas Turner,
opened the Caughley Pottery Works around 1775,
and in 1779 introduced the most famous and best
selling decal of all-time, the "Willow Pattern", or,
"Blue Willow", as we call it today.  Note: It was
Turner’s apprentice, Thomas Minton, who perfected
the Willow design a year or so later (tho some
sources say he was the original engraver, nevertheless,
his efforts were at the behest of Turner).  And due
to Minton’s later popularization of it through his own
pottery, it is he whom most collectors associate with
this now highly collectable pattern.

In 1784, Josiah Spode (heard of him?) (Guess what?
Minton designed for him from 1789-93) perfected a
way of treating the tissue paper with soft soap so
that it would pick up the color more uniformly.

In the early 1800's, rubber glue bats (something like
"glue pancakes") replaced the tissue paper.  The glue
bats were reusable, plus they conformed better to the
curved surfaces.  In fact, we'd be using glue bats
today had it not been for the Pratt Brothers.

Now there have been 5 inventions that have contributed
the most to making decals easier to use and less
expensive.  These are 1) the invention of the paper-
making machine by Henri Fourdriner in the 1820's;
2) the invention of the lithograph printing process by
Alois Senefelder of Austria, in 1796; and 3) the
ability to print more than one color onto tissue paper,
figured out by the Pratt Brothers in 1840.  (I'll tell
you about the other 2 inventions later.)

Multiple color printing was a big deal, because
heretofore the only kind of decals that were made
were one color, mono-tone designs.  Well, the Pratt
Brothers used multiple copper plates to achieve this. 
But very soon the lithograph process would take over.

The lithograph process, back then, used gigantic
lime-stone slabs for "printing plates". These were
usually about 2' by 3' and 6 inches thick, weighing
hundreds of pounds. These were polished flat on one
side, and the design was etched in the stone,
whereupon they were inserted in enormous flatbed
presses.  Using these plates, a tacky varnish was
printed onto the tissue paper, which was then dusted
with dry color, and the residue wiped away with lamb's
wool.  (Kind of like the way they make litho decals

These decals were applied more or less in the same
way as they always had been, namely, the tissue paper
with the design on it was pressed onto bisque or glazed
ware that had been coated with a tacky glue.  Then
the piece was wetted with water, which released the
tissue paper, leaving the color on the ceramic ware,
which was then fired.

Things were going along pretty good until disaster
struck.  It happened about 1876.  It had a name. 
It was "Popular Demand".  Somehow, somewhere,
someone started decorating with decals as a hobby. 
Maybe it was because decals had become much easier
to use.  Maybe it was because the lithograph process
could turn out such high quality.  Maybe it was because
the emerging consumer class couldn't afford hand-
decorated china, but they sure could afford to
decorate their own.  Nobody knows.  But we do
know this: in 1875, there were only about 300
designs available to decorate with; 2 years later,
there were 10,000 !!!

It is from this period that the word "Decalcomania"
was coined (meaning "decal craze" or "love of decals"). 
And even today, Decalcomania is still a common word
for decals in many countries.  (The singular is
"décalcomanie".)  But the actual word "Decal" is
short for the French word "Decalquer" (pronounced
"De-Kalk "), which means to "copy by tracing". 
Remember our friend, monsieur Ravenet?

Other names for decals have been "mineral transfers"
in the United States; "diaphanies" and "cockamanies"
in England (and, yes, that's where we get the word
"cockamamie" from); and "lithographs" and
"lithoplanies" in Europe.

Anyway, in 1895, the next big deal happened...
Duplex Paper.  Duplex Paper would reduce the cost
of making decals by 80%!  It seems that all this time
when decals were being printed onto tissue paper, the
tissue paper had to lightly stick onto ZINC PLATES
before you could run it through the press.  Not
exactly quick and easy.  Well, the Brittan’s Paper
Company had a better idea.  In 1895 they introduced
a two part, or "duplex", paper.

The top part was a light but tough tissue paper, and
the bottom part was a thicker stiffer paper. Using
Duplex Paper, printers could run sheets of decals at
a much faster rate, plus then cumbersome zinc plates
were eliminated, which meant ease of handling and
storage.  In the 1880's, a sheet of decals cost about
$4.00. (Not exactly cheap for the 1880's.)  By the
1930's, they were down to 50¢ to $1.00 a sheet! 
Thanks, Brittans!

P.S. The Brittans Paper Company is currently the
largest manufacturer of decal paper in the world.

Editor’s NOTE : I believe this to be the British Paper
Company, discouver their History at :


As you can see, ceramic decals are largely a European
offspring.  The first decals were probably not imported
into the United States until 1860.  The first decals
were not printed in the United States until 1894. 
These were done by George Meyercord, using a single-
hand press.  (The Meyercord Decal Co. is a very large
decal company today.  Alas, they haven't made
ceramic decals for a very long time.)

The last big deal to impact decals was the advent
of silk-screen printing.  Commercially developed in
the 1930's(?), silk-screen printing would first make
it mark not in the printing of color, but in the ability
to lay down a cover-coat or top-coat of lacquer on
top of the printed design.  This would then be used
as the transfer medium of the color, instead of the
tissue paper.  In 1936, the first firable decal was
printed using a top-coat.  It was a glass decal.  But
it proved to be so easy to use that within 3 years all
glass decals had top-coats.

Decals with top-coats or cover-coats came to be
known as "water-mount decals" because you had to
put them in water before you could mount them.
Interestingly, while the glass industry quickly
embraced water-mount decals, the ceramic industry
was much slower on the uptake.  It wasn't until the
early 1960's that water-mount decals came to
dominate.  This was partly because the potteries
were comfortable with the old "varnish mounts"
as they called them.  Plus, you got more decals for
the money with varnish mounts (because the designs
could be packed more tightly together).  Plus, they
were cheaper because the step of printing a top-
coat was not needed.  Plus, they lasted longer.
(Varnish mounts never go bad.)

Since the 60's, printing technology has advanced at
an amazing rate.  Computerized scanners and image
editors, desktop publishing and the internet, and an
ever improving silk screen industry, have combined
to make ceramic decals so easy to use and in so much
variety, that to compare them with the first decals
produced in 1750 is like comparing steel-belted
radials to wooden oxcart wheels.  The only thing
they have in common is that they're pretty.

Copyright c2016.
Blessing Simmons Co., Inc.
All rights reserved.


Our U.K. Group’s Administrator and MAJOR
Contributor for Research and Article Preparation,
was generous in allowing me to reproduce her
dissertation regarding Belleek’s Copper Plates and
their use on our Pottery’s Earthenware and Parian
Production !!  Her original presentation was given at
our Convention in Las Vegas !!

This is an EXTREMELY significant work not only for
the photography of the original copper etchings, but
also for the absolutely SPLENDID pairing of these
transfer plates to ACTUAL examples of their
application on various wares !!  A simple Link to her
manuscript follows :

U.K. Newslettre 35.1 !! 


From our Pottery’s resident historian Robert Armstrong,
a.k.a. Fergus Cleary, we learn the following :

Things you may not know about Belleek Part 21

Belleek Stoneware

Today when we hear the name Belleek we think about
the creamy translucent porcelain known as Parian,
however in the past Belleek made a variety of pottery
clay ware products including bone china white
earthenware, terracotta and stoneware.

What is stoneware?  One definition given is “Stoneware,
which, though dense, impermeable and hard enough to
resist scratching by a steel point, differs from
porcelain because it is more opaque, and normally
only partially vitrified.  It may be vitreous or semi-
vitreous.  It is usually coloured grey or brownish
because of impurities in the clay used for its
manufacture, and is normally glazed.”

In the 1860s stoneware had a variety of uses some
of which are still pertinent today such as the storage
of acids and other corrosive materials but its main
purpose then as now, was for a variety of utilitarian
wares.  Usually stoneware products are very plain and
functional but in the case of Belleek stoneware some
of the known items were given surface relief pattern.

We believe Belleek began making stoneware soon after
production began in 1863.  Some examples namely the
Lily Jug, are pictured in the Belleek Old Photograph
Album, which was compiled in or around 1881. 
Unfortunately there is no known listing of the range
or number of items that the firm produced in

The Lily jugs (three different sizes) are also listed in
the 1904 catalogue as being stoneware but it is likely
that the production of stoneware did not continue long
after that and certainly not made after 1919.

Every so often pieces brought into the pottery for
identification have turned out to be stoneware and
it is entirely possible that more will turn up.  It can
often be identified by firstly being vitreous, grey
coloured and with brown speckling, which might look
like staining coming through the glaze.

So have a look around your attic or basement as
you just might have an unrecorded piece of
Belleek Stoneware!


I’ve attempted to provide some ‘continuity’ in leading
up to the subject I desired to present in this
Newslettre !!  It’s basically a (short) sequel to my
Previous Newsletter regarding Pottery Scenic
Transfer Items !!

As you will see following, is a WONDERFUL Belleek
Stoneware (Scenic) Plate that I acquired recently
from an Auction House in the U.K. !!  I was immediately
enthralled as I discouvered this plate on the Auction
Sites I subscribe to, as I had never envisioned
anything like it prior !!  Other that ‘matching’ in
description and design to Fergus’ Stoneware (above),
I (still) have no idea as to a proper ‘Name’ for the
pattern ??  I would be MORE than pleased if any of
you Belleekers out there can assist me !!

Stoneware Pottery Scenic Plate !!
                      At first glance, you will notice the
                  greyish colour of the fired stoneware !!
              JUST as ‘Robert Armstrong’ described above !!

The physical plate is a mere 7-3/8” in diameter,
leaving only enough area on its unadorned center
for a 4” Transfer of our Pottery !!  I NOW have
documented, as examples are in my Collection,
Pottery Scenic Transfers of approximately 4”, 5”
and 6” in Diameter !!

As previously discussed, these Transfers are carefully
etched onto copper plates and thus are definitely NOT
‘shrinkable’, i.e., EACH different size must be
re-etched into its own plate !!  This would be
painstaking work for any single individual or group
of artists !!

For my following discussion a brief definition on
creating an etched plate is necessary, since all our
transfers or decals are produced from, in Belleek’s
case, original engraved copper plates !!  From the
Wikipedia, we discouver :

In traditional pure etching, a metal (usually copper,
zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy ‘ground’
which is resistant to acid.  The artist then scratches
off the ground with a pointed etching needle where
he or she wants a line to appear in the finished piece,
so exposing the bare metal.  The échoppe, a tool with
a slanted oval section, is also used for ‘swelling’ lines,
i.e., big and wider lines !!  The plate is then dipped in
a bath of acid, technically called the mordant (French
for "biting") or etchant, or has acid washed over it. 
The acid ‘bites’ into the metal (it dissolves part of
the metal) where it is exposed, leaving behind lines
sunk into the plate.  The remaining ground is then
cleaned off the plate.  The plate is inked all over,
and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only
the ink in the etched lines.

The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing
press together with a sheet of paper (often moistened
to soften it).  The paper picks up the ink from the
etched lines, making a print.  The process can be
repeated many times; typically several hundred
impressions (copies) could be printed before the
plate shows much sign of wear.

Historically, etching by goldsmiths and other metal
workers in order to decorate metal items such as guns,
armour, cups and plates has been known in Europe
since the Middle Ages at least, and may go back to
antiquity.  The elaborate decoration of armour, in
Germany at least, was an art probably imported from
Italy around the end of the 15th century, a little
earlier than the birth of etching as a printmaking

The process as applied to printmaking is believed to
have been invented by Daniel Hopfer (circa 1470–1536)
of Augsburg, Germany.  Hopfer was a craftsman who
decorated armour in this way, and applied the method
to printmaking, using iron plates (many of which still
exist).  Apart from his prints, there are two proven
examples of his work on armour: a shield from 1536
now in the Real Armeria of Madrid and a sword in the
Germanisches National Museum of Nuremberg.  An
Augsburg horse armour in the German Historical
Museum, Berlin, dating to between 1512 and 1515,
is decorated with motifs from Hopfer's etchings and
woodcuts, but this is no evidence that Hopfer himself
worked on it, as his decorative prints were largely
produced as patterns for other craftsmen in various

The switch to copper plates was probably made in
Italy, and thereafter etching soon came to challenge
engraving as the most popular medium for artists in
printmaking.  Its great advantage was that, unlike
engraving where the difficult technique for using the
burin, i.e., a metal chisel, requires special skill in
metalworking, the basic technique for creating the
image on the plate in etching is relatively easy to
learn for an artist trained in drawing.  On the other
hand, the handling of the ground and acid need skill
and experience, and are not without health and safety
risks, as well as the risk of a ruined plate.

MANY innovations and variants followed over the
years, but the basic process remained relatively
constant !!  The application of transfers from printing
to decoration on ceramics appears an obvious
conclusion and extension !!

Irish Fisher Lad !! 
                A Close Up of our Plates Center Transfer !!
We can now visualize a near view of our plates center
transfer of an Irish ‘fisherboy’, probably casting for
eels in the pond at the base of the falls in River Erne
as it flows by our Belleek Pottery !!

As I continued to analyze this image, I was suddenly
aware of the immense number of ‘straight’ lines utilized
in producing the effects of buildings, foliage, flowing
water, not to mention the young lad !!  Upon close
scrutiny, it’s easily seen that the bridges structure,
as well as the roads retaining wall, are virtually all
straight lines !! Supprisingly, so is the River Erne !! 
Although, to achieve a visual effect of ‘running’ water,
these lines vary, in groups, from horizontal to diagonal !!

The grass seems a composite of ‘dots’, inscribed
individually into the copper plate via a combination
of the etching needle for the smaller ‘pin pricks’ and
the échoppe tool utilized for the ‘larger’ impressions !! 
Note these ‘dot’ impressions are again, basically, in
straight rows, with adjacent rows each offset from
its parallel companion by about one half spot !!  By
varying the quantity of these pricks and punches, the
artist produces the impression of the degree of the
density of each grassy field !!  Or, if it’s actually a
sandy shore, a dry patch of beach, with the adjoining
darker areas near the river, a wet muddy bank !! 
Note, the shrub or tree in the upper left, is also,
more or less, just a collection of these dots, although,
they are punched in random patterns, rather close
together, to emulate branches and leaves !!

I would believe that any rocks the artist wished to
display would be ‘easily’ delineated, simply by utilizing
their échoppe tool to gouge out the boulders shape !!

On the other hand, flowers and reeds, I would
speculate, would be the most difficult to produce
as ‘curved’ grooves, some continuous with varying
widths, others consisting of a series of dots, as
well as ‘dished out’ areas to represent petals and
leaves are required to be scored into the copper !! 
Regardless, I would have to believe that Belleek
employed some very skilled artists to design their
etched plates !!

Stoneware Plate's 2nd Period Mark !! 
      Here’s a close-up of this Stoneware Plates 2nd Period Mark !!
            REMEMBER, this mark is just ANOTHER Transfer !!

Note, this marks designer utilized the lethargic
approach regarding construction of the Devenish
Tower and instead of stone, erected it with elementary
dots !!  Likewise, we discouver our beloved Irish
Wolfhound resting on a bed of grass sowed of dots !!

Now, some of you may speculate that this technique of
designing transfers is somewhat analogous to another
of our Pottery’s efforts !!  Remembering the phrase
from Jon Simmons article (above), ‘A Brief History of
Decals’, he mentions ‘Other names for decals have
been .. .. and "lithographs" and "lithoplanies" in
Europe.’  The key word here is ‘lithoplanies’ !!

As you may remember, Belleek produced a series of a
dozen Lithophanes !!  Very briefly, each original, was
created by carving the positive image into a wax block
on a glass panel, utilizing back lighting to visualize your
artistry !!  Where your wax was thinnest, more light
would shine through, likewise, where it was thickest,
less light was transmitted !!  This skillful modeling
allowed all the subtle nuances of your engraving to
be translated ultimately into the finished porcelain
lithophane !!  This wax likeness was then utilized to
produce the ‘negative’ image or plaster mold !!  Since
the wax original was very fragile and the plaster mold
had a limited lifetime when casting porcelain, a
‘master’ mold or case would usually be fashioned at
this time !!  These masters, generally formed of
pewter, tin or other like metal, would be utilized in
the preparation of additional production molds !! 
Thus, hundreds, if not thousands, of like items could
be easily created !!

So, I’d like to leave you with an interesting corollary,
one which addresses the similarities between transfers
and lithophanes !!  Basically, your transfer etched
copper plate is identical to your mold you utilize to
cast your lithophane !!  ‘Light’ areas are achieved by
a lack of etched lines or ‘dots’ on your plate, as do
the ‘thin’ areas of your lithophane mold !!  In contrast,
‘dark’ areas are obtained by dense collections of lines
and dots cut into your plate, or ‘deep’ recessions in
your mold !!  Degrees of greyscale are realized by
varying these parameters !!

AGAIN, I wish you ALL the most SPLENDID and
FESTIVE Holiday Season !!


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 !!

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 !!


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 (Télè first !!)
E-mail :    delyicious@comcast.net
Web-site :  The Beauty and Romance of Irish Belleek (or) :