One of my favourite tables for the summer features blue & white, a timeless classic for good reason. User friendly, it lends itself to any number of combinations and can be as formal or casual as you wish.

Transferware is one of the most popular blue & white patterns.  Named after the process by which it is made, the pattern or design is “transferred” from an engraved copper plate onto which ink is spread to a special tissue.  The tissue is then placed onto a previously fired bisque ceramic item, glazed and then fired again.

Prior to the development of the transferware process, every piece was hand-painted by an artist, a laborious and costly process.  But in 1756 John Sadler and Guy Green of Liverpool, England came up with the method and it was and was quickly adopted by other potters in the Staffordshire area.  This revolutionized the production of dinnerware, moving it into the reach of the general public, rather than being reserved only for the affluent.  I love that thought – the democratization of tableware!

During the 19th century, a tremendous variety of patterns by a wide range of manufacturers were produced in the Staffordshire region.  Some, such as Spode’s Blue Italian and other popular historic patterns in their Blue Room Collections, are still in production today. I am particularly fond of the Zoological pattern, which features animals in landscaped gardens including a Rhinoceros, Camel, Zebra, Ostrich, Kangaroo and a Tiger.

Estelle, by Hutschenreuther (shown at the top) is another lovely set, with beautifully shaped pieces and a delicate cross-hatched band of blue around the outer edges.

My collection comprises both old and new pieces, and I like to mix and match.  Always fresh and crisp, it looks elegant on the hottest days.