Five Decorated Easter Eggs Inspired by Fine China
We looked to our favorite fine china styles—including Royal Copenhagen, jasperware, and pierced creamware—for Easter egg inspiration and came up with techniques so remarkably simple, you'll want to pass them down, too.
One of our favorite things to collect is, undoubtedly, fine china. Open a cabinet and you'll find a treasure trove of patterns, prints, and hues—all yours for inspiration. This year for Easter, our editors were inspired by the platters, bowls, and other dishware used daily in the offices of Martha Stewart Living to design a new collection of decorated eggs. In these projects, you'll try new techniques and familiarize yourself with some of the most coveted china in the world from Wedgwood to Royal Copenhagen.
The true allure of collecting dishware is understanding and, therefore, becoming part of its history. For Wedgwood jasperware, we molded leafy appliques and cameo portraits from polymer clay. For creamware, we added a delicate lacy trim design (also known as "piercings") with small stencils. For pink luster splatterware, we recreated its abstract look with a mix of marbleizing and lustrous edible dust. For café au lait bowls, we made playful dots using foam pouncers and the ombré colors using a spritz of spray-paint to the tops. For Royal Copenhagen, we easily got the look by applying temporary tattoos and nail decals. All of these techniques are both beautiful and easy to achieve.
Eggs are not unlike china in that they can be preserved for years to come. Before decorating, consider blowing out your eggs. All you need is a syringe, a straightened paper clip, and a bowl for draining yolks. This way, your decorated eggs can be saved and put on display for Easter, perhaps paired with your favorite collection of dishware.
Wedgwood jasperware comes in far more colors than its signature blue. We looked to dreamy lilac, topaz green, pebble gray, and muted red to design these beauties. Their cameo-like embellishments rival the real thing, too. Josiah Wedgwood shaped white clay for his "sprigs," then attached them to the matte pieces before firing. We called on candy molds and polymer clay to sculpt our decorations, then baked and glued them onto these dyed marvels.
Collector's Note: The shade of a Wedgwood piece is a clue to its age. In the late 18th century, for instance, the blue was deeper than what's found in more recent iterations. A lighter shade was popular in the 1950s, when the line was sold on cruise ships.
Fit for a Queen
England's affordable take on Chinese porcelain, creamware got a royal endorsement when the monarchy's purveyor renamed it "queensware." In the late 18th century, a new variation arrived with lacy hand-cut trim—otherwise known as piercings—made by a variety of companies. Simple sticker stencils are the secret to our homage. Ivory paint channels the original, and pops on natural brown eggs or white ones dyed dove gray. Display your handiwork along with nature's: a clutch of speckled turkey or quail eggs.
Collector's Note: According to invoices from his china supplier, George Washington owned several pieces of pierced creamware, including a dozen eggcups imported from England. No fan of taxation without representation, he ensured they would not be taxed upon arrival.
The English potters who made pink luster splatterware in the 1700s were centuries ahead of their time. To produce this modern-looking mottled effect, they enlisted a method of heating metallic-glazed china that turned it rosy, then sprayed it with oil before baking to conjure a shiny, splashy finish. For the egg iteration, drop a teaspoon or so of extra virgin olive oil into your dye, then dip, dry, and rub the still-oily surface with edible luster dust for lasting shimmer.
Collector's Note: The metallic powder used to create luster splatter-ware's splotches was frequently confined to decorative bands at the top or bottom of vessels such as souvenir cups or pitchers. They often have an image of a landmark printed on them, too.
Long before a Venti-size anything was steamed up, the French had the right idea: serving foamy milk and coffee in a vessel generous enough to wrap your hands around. Makers in France and Belgium have sold scores of footed café au lait bowls, like these early-1900s finds, distinct for their ombré rims and playful spots. To mimic them, set an egg back in its carton, spray-paint the top, and add matching dots. Reverse the design for others, dyeing them and dabbing on white; give plain eggs a few vivid dollops. Mixing and matching them looks magnifique.
Collector's Note: Digoin & Sarreguemines was one prominent maker of café au lait bowls; the ceramics factory in France made home goods until 1979.
The Danish company Royal Copenhagen shot to fame in the 16th century, thanks to the monarchy and its famed Flora Danica. Our cobalt flourishes owe to two things beloved by preteens, not queens: temporary tattoos and nail decals, which affix to eggshell as easily as they do to us. Position a floral design and hold a wet paper towel on top to transfer it—simple as that. Then arrange inked eggs with dyed ones in a sliding scale of blues.
Collector's Note: Blue-and-white Chinese porcelain from the Ming Dynasty inspired Royal Copenhagen's designs.