Skip to main content

What is transferware and how is it made?'s cold here in Tulsa. My kids are out of school today due to the ice and snow. I like being 'snowed in' sometimes. My desk faces a window and I love to look out and see white...I love to watch the snow as it falls softly. The uninterrupted snowfall not yet disturbed with the kids footprints and the cars tracks is simply stunning. It makes me think of Colorado, where we lived for just a year, and of skiing every weekend at Breckenridge.

My son made me cheesy eggs and ham for breakfast and my daughter had hazelnut coffee freshly brewed when I got up this morning. How nice, and tasty! The kids are going sledding with some friends, so now, I must settle into working on this post. I thought I'd share with you just what transferware is and about the process of its being made. If you read my first post then you may remember that I grew fond of transferware before ever even knowing it had a name!

Photobucket Photobucket
Transferware is a timeless, decorative art form of pottery. It is the term given to pottery which has had a pattern applied to it by the transferring of a design from an inked, hand engraved, warmed copper plate to a wet tissue paper and then onto the body of pottery it decorates. Transferware is most commonly found on earthenware, but also on ironstone, porcelain and bone china. The majority of transferware was produced in the Staffordshire region of England.
First we begin with the copper plate and engravers tools:
copper plate

Engravers tools
The copper plate is meticulously hand engraved with a pattern using various methods such as dot punching, which creates shading and tonal variety and tools such as a burin or graver, which makes 'v' shaped grooves to contain pigment. In the 19th century, a copper plate took at least six weeks to complete.
Engraving a copper plate
When the copper plate is finished and ready for use, it is kept warm on a stove. Metallic oxide mixed with printers oil is then well rubbed into the grooves to insure a good transfer. Excess of the mixture is scraped away so that the ink remains only in the grooves of the copper plate.

Inking Copper Plate
Tissue paper, wet with a soapy solution, is then applied evenly to the warm copper plate. The plate is run through a felt covered press thus forcing the inked design onto the paper.
It is then placed back on the stove, the tissue is very carefully removed and passed to a cutter who cuts the pieces to fit particular items. The paper is then positioned onto the pottery by a skilled transferrer who smooths out any wrinkles and then rubs the paper with a stiff bristled brush so that the print is transferred to the object.

Applying the transfer
The object is then placed in a bath of cool water and the tissue paper is removed without damaging the color and design.

Running under cold water
Then off to the hardening on kiln where the print and color become fixed.
Photos of transferware process:  Country Living / Spode

A homes poetry for the day:
It was zero this morning.  I have a fire burning in my study, yellow roses and mimosa on my desk.  There is an atmosphere of festival, of release, in the house.  We are one, the house and I, and I am happy to be alone-time to think, time to be.
~May Sarton~


  1. I am just now seeing this post. Thanks for the lesson in how transferware is made. I have a few pieces that I love!

  2. This is fun! I started my blog on Jan.23 - two days before you! = ) Also, although you have known about transferware for a long time, I have LOVED it for a long time. Just this January, I started, finally, learning about what Staffordshire actually is! I've been all around the subject for decades. It was so fun to finally shed light on the whole process and history and area and to connect the dots with what I knew already. I am addicted to china and my FAVORITE thing to do is to set a table. I just bet you would have an inkling about what I mean!

    I'm heart broken to hear that your piano was destroyed in a fire!!! When I first moved out East, I had no piano for several years. It was horrific. A serious chunk of me was missing. I'm so glad, looking back, everything comes in time. I hope your "time" comes soon!

  3. Oh! I should, also, say that my jaw dropped when I saw your "warehouse" (is that what you called it?) of dishes. I need to go check out your Etsy shop! I seriously have been resisting giveaways - of course, not that there's anything wrong with them - I'm just really trying to stay simple. I wonder how long it will last. A chance to win china?!?!?! weakening....

  4. Thanks for posting such a clear explanation of the transferware process. I bought a small plate recently and now have a much greater appreciation for what went into it ! I linked your post to my art restoration blog.


  5. Nancy, loved this post and the pictures you included! I mentioned and linked this post in my own blog about the history of transferware so people could see how it was done. Now I just need time to read all your other posts! Great blog :)


Post a Comment

I love hearing from my readers. I appreciate the time you take to post a comment and I read them all.

Popular posts from this blog

English Cottage Living Room - Before, Partly After & Still a Work in Progress

I am sorry for not posting more pictures of the progress we've made settling into this new (to us) home.   It seems life rushes by so fast and that at times, doing little things, even those that I love and enjoy, often get pushed aside and onto the back shelf of my mind where I tell myself, "I'll get to this later".  Well, it is later and though I don't have as much to share with you as I'd like, I'm going to at least share my favorite spot in our living room.  I promise to show the rest of the room soon but for now the opposite half of the living room has been occupied by my daughters boyfriend who has been staying with us for the past 7 or so weeks until his apartment is ready for him to move into, and so the couch is usually made up for him to sleep on!  

Here is a photo of the current living room just as we found it, a small room just off the entry of the house with a nice marble and wood fireplace surround, hard wood floors, beautiful crown moulding a…

The History of Johnson Brothers and The Friendly Village Tablescape

Last week, Shawn and I popped into a couple of estate sales and I picked up over 100 pieces of Johnson Brother's The Friendly Village.  I think I may have to hang on to 12 of the dinner plates and use them this year at Thanksgiving but the rest of them, including this 48 piece service for 8, will be you know where.
I don't know about you all, but I have had enough of Summer and I am down right ready for the cooler temperatures of Autumn.  I've been doing a lot of rearranging around the house….I'm in one of those zones where I've got a zillion projects going on, even if half of them are just in my mind that I'm contemplating!   We've also been moving kids out and around.  Three of them are out and the three still at home are moving or rearranging their rooms around.   
Since I am yearning for Fall, haven't posted any tablescapes in a while and just got these Friendly Village pieces I decided to set the table with them.  
Oh great, I just realized that I lef…

More Traditional Red White & Blue Rooms with Transferware

A couple of weeks ago I shared some pictures of beautiful rooms in red and blue color schemes decorated with transferware.    Here is another roundup of rooms that I adore, all with red and blue color schemes and all with transferware! 

 (via Traditional Home)
(via enchanted home)

(my old living room)

Joining some of the following parties:
Between Naps on The Porch
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Decorating with Brown Transferware & $100 GIVEAWAY

Brown was introduced as a transferware color around 1829-30 and is the least expensive of colors to make. Therefore it is fairly common, so far as transferware goes, to find.  It is also one of the most collected colors and it is probably the most versatile of colors in my opinion.  Brown is neutral and looks good with any color scheme from pastels to rich jewel tones, but it is with the ushering in of Autumn that I see it popping up in home decor and vignettes the most.  Though, most of these rooms and vignettes are decorated with brown pieces year round, it just seems the perfect time to share them.  I may have to do another post because there are so, so many more equally beautiful spaces that have incorporated the use of displaying brown transferware and I can't fit them all here.
So, check these lovelies out and then stick around for the giveaway at the bottom of the post.
This vignette just stole my heart the first time I saw it.  So many of us have vintage luggage in our homes…

The Aesthetic Movement and Transferware

What is the Aesthetic Movement?
The Aesthetic Movement refers to a period of time in the late 19th century (1870-1900) which was a backlash to the formal Victorian years. 
Artists and writers of the Aesthetic movement period maintained the belief that art should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages.  They believed that art did not have any didactic purpose; it need only be beautiful. 
Japanese art had a great influence on Aestheticism. Aesthetic interiors were often decorated with Japanese prints, screens, fans and other objects. An appreciation of the art of Japan is seen in the work of many Aesthetic artists and designers such as James McNeill Whistler and E.W. Godwin.
photo credit Country Living

The Aesthetes developed the cult of beauty, which they considered the basic factor in art. They ascertained that life should copy art and considered nature as crude and lacking in design in comparison. Th…

Decorating with Blue Transferware and a GIVEAWAY!

If you haven't already been over to Enchanted Home, you'll want to go over after you finish this post because the wonderful Tina, who authors the incredibly gorgeous blog,  has a great post up about decorating with dishes plus she's hosting a giveaway to my online shop, English Transferware!  Details at the end of the post!
I know Tina loves blue and white (just look at her header and you'll know!) and has a collection of her own. In honor of Tina, I've decided to share some of my favorite images of rooms decorated with and often around blue transferware collections.  You can see more rooms decorated with blue transferware on my Pinterest board.

To me, Charles Faudree is just about as synonymous with English transferware as he his with French Country Decorating...he seemed to always find a use for it in his incredibly detailed decorating schemes.  Isn't this bedroom charming?

I love this next image from Decor Magazine.  Look how the blue pieces are hung directly o…

Children and Their Pet Rabbits ~ Antique Oil Paintings

Have you ever known a child to resist a bunny rabbit?  They're so adorable.   It seems that at some time we've all had as our own, or known someone who had, or bought for our children, a pet rabbit.  I remember surprising Michael, Ethan and Jonah (before our other three came along) with rabbits one year at Easter.  I determined that, for us, owning pet rabbits was a better thought than idea...but that's another story.   
Nonetheless, children and their pet rabbits have long time been a favorite subject of painters. Though I am more keen to having a painting of an animal than actually having an animal, I can't resist the charm and pure innocence in the paintings I'm sharing here.   I adore each of these beautiful works of arts, and I hope you do as well.

The Favourite Rabbit, by John Russell (1745-1806)
Feeding The Rabbits by German artist Heinrich Hirt (1841-1902)

Children Feeding Rabbits by Joseph Moseley Barber
Little Girl with Rabbit by Hermann Kaulbach 
I have this p…