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Cameo Appearances

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2008



Ornaments based on jasperware, the unglazed stoneware first produced by Wedgwood in the late 18th century, transform branches into a holiday display. Jasperware is known for its blue background and white cameo patterns, but antique and newer versions come in a variety of colors, including lilac and green. Create your own ornaments using Paperclay modeling material and German springerle-cookie molds, or paint store-bought architectural ornaments. The branches have been sprayed white and dusted with glittering mica flakes. Springerle cookies embellish a frosted cake.

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For centuries, ceramics artists have taken inspiration from earlier times and far-off places. This was particularly true in the late 18th century, when Europeans looked to China and Japan -- even to the ancient Romans and Greeks -- for imagery and inspiration. With a nod to this tradition, these holiday ornaments look to popular styles of china, many of which were first made popular by Wedgwood, the preeminent English pottery house. With little more than clay and paint, you can make ornaments that replicate the matte finish and relief patterns of jasperware and caneware or the shimmering glaze of lusterware. These ornaments may hark back to the past, but their elegance will be appreciated well into the future.

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Caneware, Old Paris Porcelain, and Drabware

A trio of subtle ceramic styles inspired these ornaments, as well as many of the ones on Martha's tree. Caneware, unglazed yellow stoneware made by Wedgwood, served as a reference for the ornaments at left. The three ornaments in the center emulate pieces of drabware, earthenware characterized by its olive- to coffee-toned glaze and gilded details. Old Paris porcelain, white bone china often called Wedding Band porcelain for its characteristic gold bands, inspired the bird, tree, and pomegranate ornaments.

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Once called poor man's silver, lusterware became popular in the 19th century as an inexpensive but convincing imitation of silver tabletop items. Its glaze comes in copper, pink, and silver, but the ornaments here represent only the pink and silver varieties. Even the designs on the ornaments are adapted from the real thing; silver lusterware is known for its imagery of flowers, leaves, and vines, and pink lusterware is often decorated with houses, birds, and flowers. These ornaments gain their two-toned shimmer from a combination of gilding leaf and mica powder. The ornament decorated with a house, center, was made using oven-bake clay and an iron-on transfer.
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Web-Exclusive Lusterware Clip-Art
Lusterware Bird
Lusterware House
Lusterware Bird and House

Delftware, Pierced Creamware, and Transferware

The blue-and-white ornaments borrow from the idyllic Dutch landscapes and playful genre scenes that appear on delftware, such as the antique tin-glazed tile, left. The earthenware was first made in the city of Delft, in southern Holland. Although the windmill ornament uses Dutch imagery, it is made with a transfer technique similar to that used on the original transferware jar and plate. The delicate white ornaments, made with off-white oven-bake clay and a piercing tool, were inspired by pierced creamware, such as the covered pot and bowl, first popularized by Leeds Pottery, in England, in the 18th century.

Iron-On Transfer Ornaments How-To
Pierceware How-To

Web-Exclusive Delftware Clip-Art
Delftware Windmill
Delftware House
Delftware Boat
Delftware Small House, Windmill, and Boat

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