Colour Patterns Explained

Colourful monkeys

A list of popular ceramic and glass groups named after certain colour patterns or decorative techniques. For example, Blue & White — it can be a ceramic of any type, any shape, with any painted or printed pattern and from anywhere in the world. But this group is called Blue & White, because its main decoration is a blue and white colour palette.

Airbrushed — this means spray painted. This colouring technique was popular on the late 19th and early 20th century ceramics.

Black and white — a type of decoration on ceramics where black is predominant on a bright background. True black and white European and American ceramics appear from the early 20th century onwards. Prior to that true black on pottery was virtually absent, it was represented by a very dark blue or grey.

Blue and white — underglaze blue and white porcelain originated in China in the 14th century, spread with exports to Europe and was the inspiration of blue and white ceramics in many countries. Blue pigment is usually a cobalt oxide, which actually looks grey and becomes intense blue after firing in the kiln.

Carnival — carnival glass has a shiny metallic surface with an iridescent effect. First produced in the USA in the early 1900s as an alternative to the expensive iridescent American and European glass by such luxury makers as Loetz and Tiffany. It was given away as prizes at fun fairs, hence its name.

Celadon — green glazed Asian ceramics. The term specifically refers to Chinese and Korean ceramics with a distinctive apple green glaze. It comes in a variety of shades but the common to all celadon wares is the tinge of mist in the green glaze. The name is European in origin.

Chintz — this is a name of a broad variety of decorative patterns with colourful flowers on a solid colour background. Originally chintz referred to calico fabrics made in India with printed floral patterns.

Jasperware — a type of ceramics invented by Wedgwood company in the late 18th century with a raised decoration, usually in white, applied to a monochrome background. Jasperware ceramics resemble ancient Roman carvings in jasper stone. The most popular jasperware colour palette is blue and white, but it also comes in green and white, black and white, yellow and white, shades of red and white and several more combinations. The decorative effect is so attractive and is unlike anything else, that it remains in fashion 200+ years after its invention.

Grisaille — this is a technique of painting done entirely in the shades of grey; the name comes from the French word for grey. This is a very unusual looking decoration and it goes well with minimalist designs.

Lustre — this is a type of a metallic glaze on ceramics that creates a lustre effect. Lustreware comes in different colours, from white to black, but in British ceramics it is predominantly either bronze or pink.

Majolica — pottery covered with colourful lead glazes. Most majolica dishes are decorated with moulded relief patterns and glazed in green, yellow, blue and brown colours. Over the past 150 years majolica was primarily manufactured in Britain and western mainland Europe, but it originated in Medieval and Renaissance Italy.

Sepia — the reference is to a sepia colour painting, which is a painting in a reddish brown ink on paper or parchment. This technique is used on ceramics too, with a terracotta coloured pigment.

Slipware — this refers to a basic form of painting on pottery using slip, which is a wet clay mixed with colour pigments. It is a very old technique and over the past 200 years is mostly associated with folk art.

Spongeware — this refers to a decorative technique on ceramics where an item is coloured or painted using a sponge rather than a brush.

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