Sunday, December 18, 2016
Belleek Newslettre (# 20.2)
** HAPPY HOLIDAYS !!
Wishing you all a most joyful Holiday Season with my
wishes for a healthful, peaceful and prosperous
New Year !!
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 !!
160th BELLEEK POTTERY
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
Site at :
If you require surface (bus) transportation from the
airport to our
hotel, you may locate some helpful
information directly from my
'Transportation Site' at :
I’ll be posting Updated information promptly as I
Receive it !!
I can't stress this more !! It's VERY
important to contact Johannah
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
LINCOLN’S PROGRESS !!
Since you last viewed Scholar Lincoln,
he has evolved into a Zombie
I ‘believe’ I’ve got his description proper, as you
would have to study
to become a Gladiator,
ravaged by a Zombie, i.e., Zombie is the Adjective
the Gladiators (Noun) fate !!
He now spends his nights dragging about on one leg,
terrorizing the parks of Portland !!
FOUR DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS !!
This is more of an intent to force me to quit with my
tendencies and publish my Current
Newslettre in a timely fashion and
for all you Belleekers out there, hopefully
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 !!
HISTORY of DECALS !!
Enquiring Minds want to Know .. .. I guess ..
A Brief History of Decals
by Jon Simmons
[Note: This is not a critically researched history.
is a generally
The progress of the invention of the decal is
comparable to the
progress of the invention of
the wheel. When we compare today's
radials to yesterday's wooden oxcart wheels, they
seem to have anything in common. So it was
when decals first come on
About 1750, a Frenchman named Simon François
Ravenet perfected a way of
engraving on copper plates
so that under-glaze colors could be rubbed
heated plates, then tissue paper would be pressed
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
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
Wedgwood (ring a bell?). And that's a lot of tile!
figures out to about 200 tiles per hour, or 3 tiles
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
closely guarded secret. (That is, until someone who
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
a highly technical process, that only the initiated few
In the 1750's and 1760's, Robert Hancock used
techniques to produce the best
designs of that era. His apprentice,
opened the Caughley Pottery Works around 1775,
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,
his efforts were at the behest of Turner). And due
Minton’s later popularization of it through his own
pottery, it is he
whom most collectors associate with
this now highly collectable
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
replaced the tissue paper. The glue
bats were reusable, plus they
conformed better to the
curved surfaces. In fact, we'd be using glue
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
2) the invention of the lithograph printing process by
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.
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,
Brothers used multiple copper plates to achieve this.
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
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
printed onto the tissue paper, which was then dusted
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
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
could turn out such high quality. Maybe it was
the emerging consumer class couldn't afford hand-
china, but they sure could afford to
decorate their own. Nobody knows.
But we do
know this: in 1875, there were only about 300
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
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
when decals were being printed onto tissue paper, the
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
Company had a better idea. In 1895 they introduced
a two part, or
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
were eliminated, which meant ease of handling and
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!
P.S. The Brittans Paper Company is currently the
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
first decals were probably not imported
into the United States until
1860. The first decals
were not printed in the United States until
These were done by George Meyercord, using a single-
(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
printing. Commercially developed in
the 1930's(?), silk-screen printing
would first make
it mark not in the printing of color, but in the
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
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
Interestingly, while the glass industry quickly
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
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.
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
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
radials to wooden oxcart wheels. The only thing
in common is that they're pretty.
Blessing Simmons Co., Inc.
All rights reserved.
** BELLEEK’S USE OF TRANSFERS !!
Our U.K. Group’s Administrator and MAJOR
Contributor for Research and
was generous in allowing me to reproduce her
Belleek’s Copper Plates and
their use on our Pottery’s Earthenware and Parian
Production !! Her
original presentation was given
our Convention in Las Vegas !!
This is an EXTREMELY significant work not only for
the photography of
the original copper etchings,
also for the absolutely SPLENDID pairing of these
to ACTUAL examples of their
application on various wares !! A simple
Link to her
manuscript follows :
U.K. Newslettre 35.1 !!
BELLEEK STONEWARE !!
From our Pottery’s resident historian Robert Armstrong,
Cleary, we learn the following :
Things you may not know about Belleek Part 21
Today when we hear the name Belleek we think about
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,
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
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
in 1863. Some examples namely the
Lily Jug, are pictured in the Belleek
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
catalogue as being stoneware but it is likely
that the production of
stoneware did not continue long
after that and certainly not made after
Every so often pieces brought into the pottery for
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
coming through the glaze.
So have a look around your attic or basement as
you just might have an
unrecorded piece of
A QUICK FOLLOW UP !!
I’ve attempted to provide some ‘continuity’ in leading
up to the
subject I desired to present in this
It’s basically a (short) sequel to my
Previous Newsletter regarding
Transfer Items !!
As you will see following, is a WONDERFUL Belleek
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
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 !!
At first glance, you will notice the
greyish colour of the fired
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,
Transfers of approximately 4”, 5”
and 6” in Diameter !!
As previously discussed, these Transfers are carefully
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
he or she wants a line to appear in the finished piece,
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
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,
then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only
the ink in the etched
The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing
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
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,
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
decorated armour in this way, and applied the method
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
printmaking. Its great advantage was that, unlike
where the difficult technique for using the
burin, i.e., a metal
chisel, requires special skill in
metalworking, the basic technique for
image on the plate in etching is relatively easy to
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
to decoration on ceramics appears an obvious
and extension !!
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
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
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
widths, others consisting of a series of dots, as
‘dished out’ areas to represent petals and
leaves are required to be
scored into the copper !!
Regardless, I would have to believe that
employed some very skilled artists to design their
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
construction of the Devenish
Tower and instead of stone, erected it
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
transfers is somewhat analogous to another
of our Pottery’s efforts !!
Remembering the phrase
from Jon Simmons article (above), ‘A Brief
Decals’, he mentions ‘Other names for decals have
been .. ..
and "lithographs" and "lithoplanies" in
Europe.’ The key word here is
As you may remember, Belleek produced a series of a
!! Very briefly, each original, was
created by carving the positive
image into a wax block
on a glass panel, utilizing back lighting to
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
‘negative’ image or plaster mold !! Since
the wax original was very
fragile and the plaster mold
had a limited lifetime when casting
‘master’ mold or case would usually be fashioned at
time !! These masters, generally formed of
pewter, tin or other like
metal, would be utilized in
the preparation of additional production
Thus, hundreds, if not thousands, of like items could
easily created !!
So, I’d like to leave you with an interesting corollary,
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
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
your mold !! Degrees of greyscale are realized by
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
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' !!
I'll ADD you to my list and you'll begin
receiving upcoming Newslettre
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 : firstname.lastname@example.org
Web-site : The
Beauty and Romance of Irish Belleek (or) :