June 09, 2021
If you ask a keen home decorator to name some of the best-known elements of Hamptons style, it's a fair bet that blue and white ginger jars are one of the top three decor choices.
The Hamptons is a famously moneyed area where the rich and famous have summered for decades. Like us, their beach houses have a more casual feel and often display souvenirs picked up from around the world for that holiday feel.
Unlike us, their holiday "souvenirs" often comprise antiquities and rare pieces dating back to hundreds of years.
And do you know what else dates back hundreds of years? Blue and white porcelain!
If you love the Hamptons colour scheme but you want an original twist on the look, take a leaf out of their book and consider the blue and white chinaware sourced from around the globe.
1. Japanese Imari porcelain
In the 17th century, several hundred years after China had mastered the art of firing porcelain using blue cobalt to depict dragons and florals, the Japanese introduced Imariware, said to be introduced by Chinese or Korean refugees.
Taking its name from the port, Imari, the kilns at Arita produced both blue and white, and multi-coloured, overglazed porcelain, often including orange-red and black in their designs, specifically to appeal to the European export market, via Dutch traders. Today, it's not uncommon to see burnt orange and white ginger jars as a nod to the look.
2. Persian fritware
Ironically, it was China's monopoly on porcelain production which prompted Persia (Iran) to develop its own type of pottery in the 9th century. Persian artisans added a small amount of frit (ground glass) to clay to reduce its fusion temperature which meant the stonepaste pottery could be fired at lower temperatures. The tin glazing applied to the surface helped it approximate the look of Chinese porcelain.
Beyond bowls, vases and pots, fritware was used by medieval tilemakers to craft strong tiles with a colourless base suitable for underglaze and decoration.
3. Turkish quartz
In Iznk, near Istanbul, potters replaced traditional clay with quartz to create a brighter white vase to create a real contrast with cobalt blue for floral, foliage, and fruit motifs.
4. Spanish fajalauza
Thanks to their Moorish influence, the Spanish began producing earthenware from the 13th century with broad-brushstroke cobalt detailing surprisingly similar to Persian fritware.
Fajalauza is another version of tin-glazing on thicker pottery pieces. Mainly blue and white, it does tend to include more green than other pottery areas.
5. Mexican talavera
If you love colour, you might want to include some Mexican talavera which is the least "purist" of the blue and white pottery areas.
Introduced by the Spanish in the 16th century, the Mexican version of their majolica pottery features colourful and whimsical animal and floral motifs.
6. Moroccan safi
Moroccan artisans made good use of the local cobalt oxide found around Fez, to make their own range of pottery, adding geometric and Arabian-styled designs.
7. Portuguese faience
The intrepid Portuguese explorers - you may have heard of Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Christoper Columbus - paved the way for trade across the world. Portuguese artisans began to produce their own versions of Chinese and Spanish-decorated blue and white tin-glazed earthenware. Their tilework is particularly beautiful.
Inspired by pieces from China brought back by Dutch traders, the 17th century potters in Holland's Antwerp, Rotterdam and Delft, made their own versions of chinoiserie.
Dutch seascapes, windmills and landscapes became iconic imagery choices - but probably there was no more sought-after blue and white porcelain piece to own than the blue and white Delft pagoda-shaped towers to house the more-precious-than-gold tulips during the infamous tulip mania of 1636-1637.
9. English transferware
In the 18th century, English artisans began to develop transferware. This involved engraving patterns on copper plates, which were coated blue, transferred to tissue paper and applied to china before being fired in the kiln. This process was one of the earliest versions of mass production, allowing the middle class to own fine (blue and white) chinaware.
Spode china dinner sets, which have that distinctive blue and white toile de Jouy style illustration, remain sought after today.
Check out our range of Hamptons-style decor, furniture and accessories.
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