Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I love the image that you see at the top of our blog. Our staff photographer, Katie and I worked on this photo a while back and used some of my favorite Burleighware items in the shot. Burleighware is the name of the classic transfer style of porcelain we have been carrying in our stores for years. The first time I saw the collection of these traditional style pieces I fell in love with their feel, shapes and beautiful designs and the more I learned about it the more I wanted to start a collection of my own.
Let me tell you just a bit about the company that makes Burleigh in England. William and Rosemary Dorling bought the factory that produces Burleigh in 1999. The factory itself had been making pottery since 1851 and they were the premier manufactuers, regarded world wide as the finest makers of transferware, in the early 1900s. The Burleighware made now is made in the same tradition that has been their process for generations. It is unbelievably labor intensive and something to watch. Jim and Jonathan traveled to Stoke-on-Trent in England years ago to find out exactly how the magic happens.
Barges bring clay down the Mersey Canal to the factory where it is fashioned into molds that date back hundreds of years. Each piece is fired and allowed to cool before the pattern is applied. Delicate tissue is imprinted with one of many historical patterns that previously had been hand engraved onto a copper roller. As the tissue rolls off these big copper rollers the intricate patterns are hand cut (amazingly) by craftsmen who have been training for years.
The tissue is then applied to the biscuit pieces and rubbed gently using a brush and soft soap. The ink transfers to the piece and the tissue is then carefully washed off leaving the wonderful pattern. Then the triple firing takes place hardening the clay and a special glaze that assures the pattern will never fade.
The striking patterns and rich colors are incredible. You can find a lot of the "blue" patterns on our website. Burliegh crafts ironstone in black, red, green and many classic colors. I have dinnerware in black and love the versatility of it. I can make it casual or elegant and I find I use it all the time. My favorite collection though is tiny pitchers, all in different styles and patterns. I have them in the transom over my front door in a house that was originally built in the early 1700s. They haven't faded and they look great.
Burleigh's website is burleigh.co.uk and it is worth checking out. Look for our collection on our website and I am sure you will find them as beautiful as we all do. Cynthia