Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Indigo Enchantment.... Burleighware.

As far back as I can remember, pieces of Burleighware Blue Calico have been a visual staple in family life to the point where its unmistakable deep indigo seems to be the very essence of 'home'. In fact, the Burleigh design Calico, born in 1968, is almost a contemporary of mine and despite the company undergoing a number of ups and downs from the end of the 1990s, their ware is still much sought-after. Even though I don't at present possess any Calico myself, just the mere sight of a cup, plate or dish with its characteristic floral motive in that rich inky-blue literally pulls at ties that are almost visceral in me.
Somehow the extreme contrast of that intense, rich blue with the white sprigged leaves and speckled petals ofCalico creates a depth that is unique with a certain enamel-like relief that dazzles on the tableware. Strangely however, that same depth is not carried over to the Calico wall tiles that were born from the 2021 partnership with Craven Dunnill and nor is it replicated in the Calico Burleigh X Barneby Gates wallpaper. Furthermore, even though I love all Burleighware with its unapologetic, antiquated prettiness - for example Blue Asiatic Pheasants or Blue Regal Peacock - nothing has the same aesthetic and emotional impact as the Blue Calico.
While an initial earthenware manufacturing firm was established in 1851 in the 'Mother Town' of Stoke-on-Trent, Burslem, in The Potteries region of North Staffordshire, the two men whose names gave rise to Burleigh (Messrs Burgess and Leigh) took over in 1862 and later moved the company to Middleport Pottery, where it is still based today. The company prides itself on its continued use, and unrivalled expertise in the practice of underglaze tissue transer printing in the production process, much of which can be observed during guided tours of Middleport. This is certainly one site that I would love to visit as not only can you admire intricate skills that have remained unchanged for over 250 years, it is also possible to purchase your favourite Burleigh pieces in the factory shop!

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