Saturday, 21 April 2012

Beautiful Delftware

Delftware is my favourite pottery find, perhaps because it is so old, 1560-1750 yet its hand painted designs are so vibrant, bold and modern, similar to the Spanish and Portuguese pottery seen on holiday. Several pieces I've found are also quite quirky. The unfamiliar, poetic names of the original objects enthrall, puzzle jugs, fuddling cups, bleeding bowls, porringers, flower bricks, posset-pots, blue chargers, drug jars.

A favourite find, delftware pottery approx 4cm with childlike design 

Tin glazed dish  1571-1800  Museum of London 
Delftware was first produced in London from 1571 by two Antwerp potters, Jacob Jansen and Japser Andries, who opened a pottery at Aldgate. During the 17th century several potteries were established close to the Thames in Southwark (in the wonderfully named Pickleherring Quay) , Lambeth, Vauxhall and  Rotherhithe and later at Putney and Wapping. The best delft descriptions I've found are from  Judith Miller, antiques expert, author and TV presenter, so many direct quotes from her,

‘Delftware is a type of earthenware characterised by its opaque white enamel glaze, made from a mixture of tin and lead ash, powdered glass and water.Before the development of this revolutionary enamel, British potters had been severely restricted in terms of decoration by the drab browns and greens of the clays they used. The clean white finish of Delftware allowed them to paint patterns, landscapes and portraits for the first time.They painted their naive designs in bright colours derived from various minerals - cobalt blue was the most widely employed, although copper green, manganese purple, iron red and antimony yellow were also used.’ 

Polychrome delftware shards found mudlarking on Thames foreshore 

English Delft Polychrome Dish 1675-1700, Christies
Drug jars, wine bottles, and ointment pots were typically produced in the 17th century 

Delft Drug Jars Early 17th Century, Christies

Delftware, some with manganese purple found mudlarking on Thames foreshore 
In the 18th century tea bowls, pots, cups and saucers were made. They were the possessions of the middle classes, status symbols, shown off in the best rooms rather than kept in the kitchen. 

In the latter part of the 18th century, Josiah Wedgwood promoted his more industrially produced tableware, which chipped less easily and was decorated in the new classical style, the public responded eagerly and delftware went out of production by the early 19th century.


  1. Thank you so much for this connection. I have been making a papier-mache dish inspired by a fragment of Delft similar to this that I also found on The Thames foreshore. This helps me enormously.

    1. Glad it was of use, I noticed that you'd made it mudlarking on the Thames and were now making jewellery from your finds, looks like you have got the bug too! Julia

  2. I have one Korean ceramic who given by my mother for my birthday gift. I was really shocked immediately for receiving those ceramics. It was memories that I never forgot. Thank you.