|Mudlarking Finds: Flow Blue Pottery Shards|
Flow blue is not uncommon the Thames foreshore. I do rather like the effect, rather more romantic than the bog standard transfer ware or perhaps its relative scarcity attracts.
|Mudlarking Finds: More Flow Blue|
Flow Blue is a type of transfer ware. As the name suggests it’s where the blue of a transfer print bleeds or ‘flows’ onto the white body of the object, caused by adding lime, chloride or ammonia to the kiln whilst firing. The origins are not clear. Some claim discovery was accidental others an intentional development by Staffordshire potters, with Josiah Wedgewood credited with its invention.
|Wedgwood Flow Blue 'Chapoo' Platter (live auctioneers)|
It’s usually applied to earthenware although sometimes to Porcelain. The blues varied with the most popular being cobalt blue, mulberry was also used. Flow blue was applied to the full range of objects from full dinner service to tea ware to bedroom wash sets.
|Flow Blue Tea Pot, Shapoo Pattern by Thomas Hughes 1860-1870|
The degree of bleeding varied widely. When first introduced the flow was limited, later some flowed so much the original design was completely obscured. It had the advantage of hiding defects in the application of transfer or faults in moulding or glazing.
When introduced flow blue was a popular product in Britain but demand apparently quickly diminished perhaps due to the sniffy attitude of some contemporary pottery commentators with this later illustration
N. Hudson Moore, wrote in his 1903 edition of The Old China Book, "There is a certain style of design known as 'flow blue,' which has nondescript patterns, flowers, geometric designs, and which has nothing whatever of beauty or interest to recommend it..."
After WWI the States began their own industry..... The English production of flow blue hugely reduced once the export market to the US dried up after WWI, a result of the States producing their own versions.