The Italian pattern by Spode (also known as Blue Italian) celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. The dinner settings continue to be made in the original town of Stoke-On-Trent and even the process of copper plate screening remains basically unchanged since 1784.
Although the scenes of the Blue Italian pieces are inspired by the countryside of a bucolic Italy, no one place is depicted on the porcelain. The inspired artist came up with the designs like a dream of places once visited.
The Blue Italian design was originally made in the 1800’s for a wealthy elite. Huge serving dishes, foot-baths and decorative bowls were all a part of a status home. There were black and green versions of ‘Italian’ produced intermittently through the life of the design.
A Jackie Fact: The Blue Italian design holds the record -1st place- for the longest actively produced pattern in history, proving this iconic pattern transcends generations.
Portmeirion saved the Spode name in 2009, breathing new life into the pattern. This year, the company has been awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise- a nod to the emerging revival of Stoke-On-Trent’s porcelain savoir-faire.
The Recipe for a perfect plate
- Heat an etched copper plate (preferably with a tranquil scene carved into it) and apply dye with a scraper- holding the etched plate with a leather cloth to beat the heat.
- Use a wooden tool called a dabber to make sure the ink is pushed into all the nooks and crannies of the copper plate.
- Wet a square piece of tissue paper in soapy water and apply it to the copper plate -smooth by hand.
- Place the tissue and plate under a roller to press out any air bubbles.
- Gently pull off the piece of tissue and place it on a biscuit plate (an unglazed blank).
- Use soap and pressure to hand-press the screen onto the plate.
8. Bake in oven- glaze- repeat.