Friday, April 30, 2004

Fellow Belleekers !! (lettre # 8.1)


The SunShine Chapter (Florida) has designed and
released their Web Site at :


As with ANY Chapter's Site, yours may gain some insite
into some FUN activities that your fellow Belleekers
are undertaking !!

Of course, the U.K. Chapter has published their latest
Newsletter in print and as usual, it is SPLENDID !!

You may study their extensive contributions to Belleek
Collecting at :


Their LATEST Newsletter is, as of today, not (yet)
On-Line, but their others ARE, with a WEALTH of
information !!

Other than Chapter News, there IS an upcoming Irish
Auction at Sothebys London, on 13 May, 2004 !! The
Complete Auction may be viewed On-Line at :



GOSH, did I have a wonderful time !! This years
event, only had like 600 Dealers, but I entered the
main display area at 9AM Saturday morning and
transversed isles 1100 thru 2600, the complete

Fair, by 1:30PM that afternoon !! MY POOR FEET !!

I had packed a new pair of 'training' shoes so my feet
were just swollen beyond recognition !! What I don't
fully comprehend, is what the ladies were feeling that
were attempting to navigate the grounds in their 4"
heels ?? There were TWO foot massage booths in the
Fair and that's where the majority of them ended up !!

As opposed to a couple of years ago, when there were
definitely an abundance of gate gatherers and sight
seers, this year I noticed that most every booth had
multiple buyers with rolls of hundred dollar bills and
everyone exiting the Fair had their hands and arms full
of purchases !!

Speaking of monies, somehow, I've become obsessed with
trivia this Newslettre, so going back a few seasons, we
find :

"Decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was the
custom in England during the Middle Ages. In 1290, the
household accounts of Edward I recorded an expenditure
of eighteen pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and
colored for Easter gifts."

I'd GLADLY expense 18 Pence for a Gilt Decorated
Belleek Tea Set !!

Moving on, I discouvered one Dealer whom specialized
in Chocolate and Ice Cream Molds !! I have NEVER seen
so many different molds in my life !! He and his wife
definitely had in excess of 2,000 separate molds, the
most spectacular being of a Easter Bunny like 18" in
Height !! Other than the normal bunnies, he had baby
chicks and most every other cute little animal,
including an alligator !! They had clowns, motorcycles,
buildings and just about anything you could imagine !!

For myself, I purchased a Tin Mold of a Penquin, to
add to my little collection of Penquins !!

Chocolate Penquin Mold !!

In discussions with the sellers, I was told that they
all had 'broken even' on Saturday and then, whatever
business transacted on Sunday was just 'gravy' !! A

During the Fair, I did have occasion to chat with the
Chief Managing Editor of the Antiques Trader Weekly,
to include ALL their specialty publications !! I also
had the privilege to meet with the Fairs Manager and
Assistant !!

There were two historical displays this year, the first
being a pictorial history of Ocean or Atlantic City,
with a wonderful display of photographs and memorabilia
from the late 1800's on thru like the 1940's !!

The second spectacular happening, was actually a live
session with TWO of the ORIGINAL Munchkins from the
Wizard of OZ !! You could talk with them, shake their
little hands and actually purchase an autographed
picture from one or both !!

For an additional bit of trivia, Frank Baum named "OZ"
after a file cabinet in his office !! One cabinet was
labeled "A to N", and the second was labeled, of course,
"O to Z" !!

These were, in addition to the usual Antiques Road Show
Booth, which recorded multiple shows for live as well
as delayed broadcast throughout the days of the Fair !!

NOW, what was the most interesting item at the Fair
this year ?? THAT'S A TOUGH DECISION !! There were
JUST so many beautiful and spectacular items, I'll not
make a selection here !! INSTEAD, this year, I'll go
for the MOST UNUSUAL !!

NO, NOT ME, but as I transversed the isles, there are
'rest' areas where you find, in abundance, the ladies
with the 4" heels !! Resting on one of the chairs,
was this splendid chap with a placard hanging around
his neck advertising "I BUY HARMONICAS" !! I didn't
have the heart to question his success !!

** SWITHINS ?? **

St. Swithin's Day, July 15: During the 900s, a man named
Swithin (spelling also recorded as "Swithun") was the
Bishop of Winchester in England. Some years after his
death, and for reasons not documented, Bishop Swithin's
remains were transferred to Winchester Cathedral on
July 15, 971. That same day, there was a tremendous rain
storm. Legend has it that Bishop Swithin was so angry
about the move from his final resting place that he
caused the storm. According to old English folklore,
if it should now rain on July 15th, St. Swithin will
make it rain for 40 days thereafter.

So, what's St. Swithin's Day have to do with Belleek
you may ask ?? Absolutely NOTHING, I can discouver !!
BUT, if it did rain for like 40 days, that would bring
us up to JUST ABOUT the date for the fantastic Antique
Fair in Chicago !!

This years Show will be the weekend of August 27 thru
29, 2004 and, being the 2nd largest Fair in the World,
boosts approximately 450 Dealers !!

There's additional information on my Web Site, under
the Events Tab, or you may navigate directly there
via the Link :


I'll be staying at the Embassy Suites !!


IN 2005 !! **

The Great Lakes Chapter is inviting you to meet us in
Grand Rapids, Michigan. We are hosting the Belleek
Collectors' International Convention September 8, 9
and 10 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It is 5 minutes from
the Gerald Ford Airport that has connections to the
major airline hubs. This is just a notification of
the Convention.

Registration forms and more information will be out soon.

As information becomes available, you may contact our
Convention Coordinator Phyllis via E-mail at :


Phyllis guarantees multitudes of activities in her
lovely City of Grand Rapids, including, of course,

the worldly sport of golf !! And being it's that time
of year when all you golfers assemble on the links, I
thought a bit of trivia might be in order !! I
discouvered :

"Golf was banned in England and Scotland in 1457 by
King James II because he claimed it distracted people
from the archery practice necessary for national

** MOLES, MOLDS and MILDEW !! **

Well, as we all know, the former and latter can be total
pests !! Since I had just purchased the Chocolate Mold
at the Atlantique City Fair, I REALLY desired to publish
a bit regarding the porcelain molding process !!
UNFORTUNATELY, I was unable to obtain permission from
the Site I wished to quote, SO, in its place, I will
venture into another area of debate !!


We've (probably) all got at least one item of Belleek,
or other porcelain, that is what is referred to as being
'crazed' !! But exactly, what is this phenomenon ??

After a bit of research, I discouvered the following
from the folks at :

Evenheat Kiln, Inc.,
PO Box 399
6949 Legion Road
Caseville, MI 48725


I quote them directly :

"Ceramic Firing Faults

"Below is a list of common firing faults. While helpful,
this list is not for instructional use and should only
be used to help identify faults that may have occurred.

"For comprehensive firing information on your particular
type of ware and color, we suggest contacting the
manufacturer or distributor. For more general
instruction we suggest that you seek training from
a qualified teacher.


"Crazing is recognized by many hairline cracks on the
glazed surface after the ware has been fired. This will
not necessarily occur immediately after the final firing
but over a period of time the hairline cracks will
become visible. Crazing and cracking could be caused by:

"Bisque or greenware that has not been thoroughly fired.
Greenware must be completely dry before doing a bisque
firing. The piece should be fired to a cone 03 or 04**
making sure the pieces are not crowded and adequate heat
circulation surrounds all the pieces. If the pieces are
not thoroughly fired, moisture will be trapped inside
the ware. This will cause the crazing and cracking to
occur during the glaze firing. The moisture and gases
are escaping and disrupt the smooth glaze finish.

"Either cooling the kiln too rapidly or removing the
ware before it is completely cool. Do not hurry the
cooling process or raise the kiln lid before it is
cool. An extreme temperature change could put stress
on your ware thus causing crazing.

"Handling ware too roughly. Greenware is very delicate
and should be handled carefully. Putting stress on a
particular point could cause a crack that would not
appear until after firing.

"Cracking of flat pieces could be caused from not enough
ventilation surrounding the piece. Flat pieces should
not be placed directly on the kiln bottom or shelf. They
should be raised about 1" from the firing surface by
using posts or stilts. This gives good ventilation
around the entire piece and eliminates cracking during
the glaze firing.

"Inability for your clay and glazes to work together.
Make sure you know what type of clay you are using and
follow the paint manufacturers directions. Contact your
slip or color manufacturer should you have questions on
this issue."

A few other 'common' faults we see in Belleek :


"Underfired or immature bisque. Most often the bisque
is fired to a cone 03 or 04. The glaze firing is
generally fired 1 or 2 cones cooler, 05 or 06. If the
bisque has not been fired completely through, gases will
escape from the immature bisque causing small pinholes,
craters or bubbles in the glazed surface. Read all
directions on the color manufacturers products for
correct firing temperatures. Contact your slip or color
manufacturer should you have questions on this issue.

"Glaze could be applied to heavy. Apply only the number
of coats according to the color manufacturers directions
and label.

"Dust on the ware or in the kiln could cause some glaze
defects. The ware should be free from dust by brushing
the dust off with a soft brush or a damp sponge. Vacuum
your kiln, including inside the grooves, to keep it
free from unnecessary dust.

"Firing too fast or cooling too rapidly could cause
these firing faults. With the no-lead glazes, rushing
through either of these processes will bring
unsatisfactory results."

** Editor's Definition : CONE : Used in a kiln, a
pyrometric cone deforms when the proper heat work is
achieved. Various cones are made to either trigger
mechanical shut off (Dawson Kiln Sitter ) or to act
as a witness to kiln conditions.

Cones are 'measured' from an 019 (ought19) coolest,
approximately 1265F (685C) thru 12, the hottest,
approximately 2419F (1326C) !!

Cones 06 thru 04** measure temperatures typical for
firing earthenware !! Cones 6 thru 10 measure
temperatures typical for firing stoneware !! Cones
10 thru 12 best measure temperatures typical for
firing porcelain, i.e., Belleek Parian !!

** Final editor's note : The 'ought', i.e., '0nn' Cone
specifications, are in inverse sequence to their
respective temperature, i.e., 06 is cooler than 04 !!


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) :