Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research
  The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs (detail) 1871

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Hoskins, S., Huson, D., Halfpenny, P., Baskeyfield, J., Hodes, C., Scott, P., Bunnell, K., Higginson, J. and Orr, C. and Stephen Hoskins, David Huson (2014) Beyond Blue Symposium, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, 23 January 2014 Available from: http://www.uwe.ac.uk/sca/research/cfpr/research/traditionalprint/research%20projects/Beyond_Blue.html

Huson, D. and Hoskins, S. (2014) Underglaze tissue printing for ceramic artists, a collaborative project to re-appraise 19th century printing skills in: Key Engineering Materials. (608) Traditional and Advanced Ceramics. Scientific.net, pp. 335-340. ISBN 978-3-03835-063-7
Available from: http://www.ttp.net/978-3-03835-063-7/6.html

Abstract: Under-glaze tissue ceramic transfer printing first developed circa 1850 and involved engraved or etched copper plates, from which tissue was printed with cobalt blue oxides. Under-glaze tissue has a very distinctive, subtle quality – it is an integral part of both English ceramic history and the history of copperplate engraving. The process was common in the UK ceramics industry until the1980s.

However from the 1950s it began to be supplemented, by screen-printing, because it was relatively slow and required skilled artisans to apply the transfers. The authors are collaborating with Burleigh Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, the last remaining company to produce ceramic tableware decorated using the traditional printed under-glaze tissue method. The pottery was recently saved from closure by the Prince Charles Regeneration Trust, who wish to maintain the traditional manufacturing skills for the next 25 years. The Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol has been reappraising the use of the traditional 19th Century skills with modern materials and methods for producing engraved plates. This paper seeks to demonstrate how those 19th Century methods can be applied by contemporary ceramic artists, explaining ink manufacture, heating the plate for printing, modern digital methods of making plates and where to obtain the elusive potters tissue.

This paper was presented at the Advanced Ceramics Session at the International Conference on Traditional and Advanced Ceramics (ICTA2013) 11-13 September 2013, Bangkok, Thailand and later published in the periodical "Key Engineering Materials"

Hoskins, S. and Huson, D. (2014) ‘A very English process’ Underglaze tissue printing for ceramics - a collaboration to retain 19th century printing skills in a commercial environment in: Harrison, P. L., Shemilt, E. and Watson, A., eds. Borders and Crossings: The Artist as Explorer. Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, pp. 122-127. ISBN 1899837701 Available from: http://www.conf.dundee.ac.uk/impact8/publication/

Abstract: The standard text ‘Penny Plain and Twopence coloured’ regarding Blue and White underglaze ceramic transfer printing begins: ‘Transfer printing is a particularly English form of ceramic decoration’ (Halfpenny, Pat. 1994). Underglaze tissue ceramic transfer printing first developed circa 1750 and involved the use of engraved or etched copper plates, from which a wet strength tissue paper was printed with an oxide (commonly cobalt for blue colour) the famous 'Willow Pattern' being the best known example.

Underglaze tissue has a very distinctive, subtle quality – it is an integral part of both English ceramic history and the history of copperplate engraving. The process was common in the UK ceramics industry until the1980s. However from the 1950s it began to be supplemented by screenprinting because it was relatively slow and required skilled artisans to apply the transfers. Screenprinted transfers are printed on top of the glaze, therefore the image will wear and fade in a dishwasher - having none of the delicate qualities and permanence of underglaze. In addition screenprinted transfers are easier to apply and do not require the skills necessary for underglaze tissue application. The authors are collaborating with Burleigh Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, the last remaining company to produce ceramic tableware decorated using the traditional printed underglaze tissue method. The project title is ‘Combining digital print technologies with 18th Century underglaze ceramic printing to retain an industrial heritage process’. The pottery was recently saved from closure by the Princes' Regeneration Trust, who wish to maintain the traditional manufacturing skills for the next 25 years. There is a long-term issue with both the maintenance and production of printing hand-engraved rollers and plates. The project addresses that issue by introducing the potential of printing the traditional potter's tissue and applying it in the same way as the late 18th Century process, but creating the plate from a digital file. Thus creating a combination of the digital capabilities of flexographic printing technology and the earliest printing process developed for the ceramic industry. The result is to reduce the time from one month needed to engrave a roller to less than a day to create a digital equivalent, whilst retaining the integrity of the final product.

Hoskins, S. (2014) Digital creation of hand engraved copper plates to secure a historic process in NIP & Digital Fabrication Conference, (30). pp. 390-394. ISSN 2169-4451 Available from: http://ist.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/ist/nipdf/2014/00002014/00000001/art00093

Abstract: Underglaze tissue ceramic transfer printing was first developed circa 1750 and involved the use of engraved or etched copper plates, from which a wet strength tissue paper was printed with an oxide (commonly cobalt for blue colour) the famous ‘Willow Pattern’ being the best known example.

However skilled engravers are no longer trained or available. The project addresses that issue by introducing the potential of printing the traditional potter’s tissue and applying it in the same way as the late 18th Century process, but creating the printing plate from a digital file. Thus creating a combination of the digital capabilities of flexographic printing technology and the earliest printing process developed for the ceramic industry. The results of the project reduced the time from one month needed to engrave a roller to less than a day to create a digital equivalent, whilst retaining the integrity of the final product. The authors are collaborating with Burleigh Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, the last remaining company to produce ceramic tableware decorated using the traditional printed underglaze tissue method. The project title is Combining digital print technologies with 18th Century underglaze ceramic printing to retain an industrial heritage process.

The pottery was recently saved from closure by the Princes’ Regeneration Trust, who wish to maintain the traditional manufacturing skills for the next 25 years.

Hoskins, S. (2014) A very English process: Underglaze tissue printing for ceramic artists, a collaborative project to reappraise 19th century printing skills in NCECA 2014, 48th Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, March 19-22, 2014. Available from: http://nceca.net/static/conference_home.php

Abstract: The standard text regarding Blue and White underglaze ceramic transfer printing ‘Penny Plain and Twopence coloured’ begins: ‘Transfer printing is a particularly English form of ceramic decoration’(1). Underglaze tissue ceramic transfer printing first developed circa 1850 and involved engraved or etched copper plates, from which tissue was printed with cobalt blue oxides- the famous 'Willow Pattern' being the best known example.

Underglaze tissue has a very distinctive, subtle quality – it is an integral part of both English ceramic history and the history of copperplate engraving. The process was common in the UK ceramics industry until the 1980s. However from the 1950s it began to be supplemented, by screenprinting, because it was relatively slow and required skilled artisans to apply the transfers. By contrast screen-printed transfers are printed on top of the glaze therefore the image will wear and fade in a dishwasher and has none of the delicate qualities and permanence of underglaze. The authors are collaborating with Burleigh Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, the last remaining company to produce ceramic tableware decorated using the traditional printed underglaze tissue method.

The pottery was recently saved from closure by the Prince Charles Regeneration Trust, who wish to maintain the traditional manufacturing skills for the next 25 years. The Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol has been reappraising the use of the traditional 19th Century skills with modern materials and methods for producing engraved plates. There is almost no written record of the actual material and methods used in the process up to the 1950’s. This paper seeks to demonstrate how those 19th Century methods can be applied by contemporary ceramic artists, explaining ink manufacture (using oxides), heating the plate for printing, modern methods of making plates and where to obtain the elusive potters tissue, which has always been printed dry, unlike the traditional etching and engraving processes in conventional printing. (1). Halfpenny, Pat. (1994) Penny Plain Twopence Coloured, Transfer Printing on English Ceramics City Museum and Art Gallery Stoke on Trent UK. ISBN: 1 874414 05 X


Traditional Print Research-Burleigh Artist Case Studies

Chris Orr

Higg and Bunn

Paul Scott

Stephen Hoskins



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