The Chitra Collection: British and European Pottery and Stoneware

This soapstone teapot was made at the Worcester porcelain factory in 1751. By mixing soapstone (a rock rich in the mineral talc) with the clay, Worcester succeeded in making thinly potted tea wares that did not crack or break when hot water was poured in. The Worcester factory produced thousands of such pieces approximately 20 years before other factories succeeded in making true porcelain using china clay, also called kaolin. This pot is decorated using underglaze blue transfer printing, a cheap and easy way to decorate ceramics. The design features the Fisherman and Willow pattern used on many Worcester items.

But when compared with the fine porcelain plates, vases, jars, and tea wares arriving from China, these earthenwares seemed somewhat crude and naïve. The potters realized that even if they could not match the exquisite Oriental porcelains, they could at least refine their own work to replicate Chinese designs, shapes, and glazes and create a new market for their own goods. They knew that the number of people drinking tea was growing and that only wealthy aristocrats and imperial families could afford very expensive Oriental teapots and bowls. And even after the secret of porcelain production had been discovered in Europe, prices remained very high. This created an opportunity for the makers of earthenwares to reach out to a growing market of less-well-off customers by manufacturing attractive tea equipage at much lower prices.


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