Tag Archives: antiques

Auntie Del’s Czech porcelain soup tureen

My great-aunt was an elfin creature and most probably fey, like my mom. She had a tinkling laugh that went up and down the scale. Our family is fond of our Irish heritage and Auntie Del and her sister Dorie, my grandma, were the standard bearers. How many urchins of similar stripe must have lived in Butte, Montana during its heydey? I remember a story about them chucking stones at the butler as they ran past the Clark mansion. Children of first generation Irish immigrants living in one of the biggest mining boom towns in the U.S. Big. Big immigrant population, big vaudeville acts, Big Money, big disparity between rich and poor. Auntie Del was the frailer of the two and she was taken to Missoula, where she lived with her grandparents. I got to know Auntie Del when we moved to the Garden City when I was in 5th grade. She and her family lived in a lovely heritage house on the south side of the Clark Fork River. Later, when I was a teenager, we lived in Spokane, and visited mom’s family often, three state borders away. It was all sort of novel, since my developmental years were spent far away from any family. It was during those years that attention was called to Auntie Del’s antiques. I remember mom pointing out her aunt’s hat pins. Long things that would have adorned the hats of women at the turn of the century. The heads were highly decorated, fearsome things. Her daughter, my cousin Kelley, had an exquisite mineral collection. I think it was on the landing of the staircase, in a cabinet. Gorgeous stuff! I got to know Auntie Del better when I stayed at my grandma’s in the 80s for a spell, recuperating from a serious illness. She was the best storyteller and loved to reminisce. She was like a tiny bird, very perky, with the most amazing blue eyes that literally sparkled, no cliché. I got to spend even more time around her in the 90s when I attended grad school in Missoula at the U of M. I had seen her living in three different places at that point, down by the river, out in Orchard Homes, off 3rd Street, not that far from the family home, and then at an assisted living facility up on the northeast side of town, up the Rattlesnake. One of the things Auntie Del collected were pig figurines and she had some of them in her room. Cute pigs, realistic pigs, you name it…she just loved little piggies. I have one of them now…a little bronze sow with piglets that I keep on the bookcase next to my bed. Even when Auntie Del was poorly, she was always happy to see me and I miss her terribly. She passed away years ago now and not being able to attend her funeral is one of my great sorrows. This summer, though, I was able to see her son, my cousin Charlie, when Mark and I took mom to Montana for vacation. Charlie and my mom resemble her, so it was as if Auntie Del was at the table, too, during lunch. Mom and Charlie swapped stories, we hooted and had loads of fun. Yesterday, I started putting china and crystal in the new china cabinet. One of the things I couldn’t wait to place in it was Auntie Del’s soup tureen. It was given to me back in 1999. I met Kel and my cousin Sam at a storage facility in Missoula. There, we loaded an antique record player into my car. Auntie Del had wanted my brother Alan to have it. I think there was a stack of 78 records, too. At that same time, Kelley gave me the soup tureen you see in the photos. It was one of my aunt’s many antiques… I had never seen it before, it wasn’t part of my history in any way, but it is a beautiful piece. Over the years, it has really bothered me that it was stuck in a dark cupboard where I could never see it. Not anymore, though. Auntie Del lives on and her lovely Czechoslovakian soup tureen does, too. And it is now most definitely part of my history. I have yet to use it but, by George, I’m going to and tout de suite!

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Good Impressions Part 3: Pottery tissue transfers

The tissue transfer method doesn’t make an actual impression. It transfers an image from paper to clay, but I’m including it here because it requires the act of placing something on clay that remains, leaving a visual element, like impressions. I came upon tissue transfer by chance and it sounds so very cool, I wanted to include it in this series.

Modern-day: Commercial transfers are sold at supply houses and the following information was posted by Ruth Boaz. Australian Northcote Pottery Supplies carries beautiful Japanese transfers: click here. Northcote also has an instruction sheet that you can download from this URL: scroll down to #39. Pottery Supplies’ line has more variety: click here to download their catalog. Finally, Japanese Pottery Equipment: click here to see its line. I must say, I do not know why the sources I found are only in Australia. If you know of a N. American source, can you let me know? Thank you!

Historical: Boaz also suggests you take a look at the Horatio Colony Museum site to see some historic examples. “The English invention of transfer design in the 18th century coincided with the development of pottery that could rival the coveted Oriental porcelain,” according to the site. It further explains that the design was transferred “from an etched copper plate” to transfer paper. “This was achieved by first printing the etched design onto a special tissue paper with ceramic ink.” As a result, for the first time ever, working class people “could afford beautiful dinnerware for their homes.” (There is even a Transferware Collector’s Club!)

DIY Transfers: According Morgan Britt, who commented on the pottery.org clayart forum, an artist named Rosette Gault gave a demonstration of her transfer technique in a workshop. “She used regular tissue paper and one of the super fine
tipped felt markers, then used a barely damp sponge to transfer the drawing to the clay,” said Britt. Dollie and Ernie Ceramics say they also use markers to transfer a design, but that the design burns out when fired, so they only use it as a guide for filling in with  underglaze. So, I guess one must simply experiment, but I think it might take a bit of trial and error to find pen ink that wouldn’t burn out. I did a little investigation and it turns out a number of makeup eyeliners contain iron oxide and some of them are like magic markers. Here are Elaine Bradley’s musings about her experiences with transfers.

So, If a person can master the technique, they will be able to do quite a bit with transfers. There are a couple of other methods happening, too, but they’re a little more obscure. You can check them out, if you’re interested. With one, you’ll have to find a screen printer who will use vitrified ink, the other you’ll have to find a Canon computer printer that uses toner with iron oxide. There are some exciting things happening in studios around the globe, though. Take a look at Potterlalab’s Flickr Photostream by clicking here. Wow! Gorgeous work… I also found a post about transfers, lino prints and other intriguing forms of decoration at Print Pattern Project‘s site. Please take a boo and good luck with your transfer projects!


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