Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Transfer Prints

The technique of transfer printing was first developed around 1783 in Staffordshire, England. The process entailed inking an engraved copper plate to transfer the pattern to tissue paper which was then applied to a ceramic vessel. This allowed potters to quickly achieve complex decorations.

The elements within the designs can be broken down into motifs and dated. Color can also be used to date a transfer print ceramic. Cobalt was the first additive used, from the 1780s to the 1820s, because other colors tended to bleed. Other colors were introduced as technology improved. Black was among the first colors other than blue to be used. Maker's marks on the base of ceramics were often printed in black. After that came brown, purple, green, red, and lavender.

Printed wares were popular until around 1850 and then again around 1870, until the use of decals became popular in the early 1900s.

Transfer print decorations are found most often on whiteware, pearlware, and ironstone. Less often, they appear on creamware. When trying to identify transfer print ceramic sherds, a close look will reveal that the pattern is made up of the pinpoint dots that were part of the original design on the tissue paper.

For more information on and photos of Transfer Print Ceramics, click here to go to the Jefferson Patterson Park website.

(photo from jefpat.org)


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