Creamware is a glazed refined earthenware with a body that ranges in colour from ivory, light cream to straw. The creamy yellow glaze is caused by the addition of copper to a clear lead glaze. During the manufacturing process creamware is fired twice. In the first stage, the vessel is fired to a bisque. This […]


Lustre is a decorative technique that was used on several ceramic wares, including refined white earthenwares, fine pasted red earthenwares, porcelain and stoneware. Lustre decorated wares are created when a thin metallic film is applied over the glaze of a vessel. When fired in a muffle kiln the metallic glaze would fuse to the body […]


Ironstone is a type of refined earthenware exhibiting a white, hard, almost vitrified paste, with a white thick glasslike glaze. Ironstone can often be characterized by having a network of very fine crazing appearing underneath the glassy surface. The background colour is white but tends to look blueish grey. Ironstone is often undecorated but may […]


The distinct decorative type known as Rockingham is a result of a combination of two glazes that create a mottled design. Rockingham is highly fired earthenware or stoneware that is generally buff to yellow paste with a brownish glaze. Rockingham can be manufactured in two ways. The first requires the vessel to be dipped in […]


Teacup with decalcomania angel motif

Decalcomania is a decorative technique in which intricate enameled images were transferred to pottery vessels. The first experimentation with decals occurred in 1830s Europe but it wasn’t until the 1870s that manufacturers in France made significant improvements to the technology leading to its perfection at the close of the nineteenth century.  The term decalcomania means the […]

Transfer Print: Floware

Floware Urn Historical Archaeology Ceramic Reference Transferprint 19th Century Ontario

Floware is a specific type of transferprint with a blurred, watery effect. This decoration is created by exposing the surface of the ceramic to chlorine in the kiln, which causes the colours to “flow.” This motif features two distinct colours; blue or mulberry, with the dark purple mulberry pigment often reading as almost black. Floware occurs […]

Hand-Painted: Monochrome Blue

Monochrome blue plate handpainted historical archaeology reference 19th century Ontario

Monochrome blue is a specific style of hand-painted decoration that is applied using an all-blue palette. It usually features floral designs, but may also include geometric designs. For our own classification, we exclude handpainted Asian-style themes from this motif, which we instead designate as Chinoiserie.  The popularity of blue and white ceramics can be traced back […]

Hand-Painted: Chinoiserie

Chinoiserie blue and white hand painted saucer- historical ceramic reference 19th century archaeology

Handpainted chinoiserie motifs show up on some of the earliest ceramics we discover in Ontario, and they are always a pleasure to discover. These early Asian-themed motifs appear most often on tin-enamelled earthenware, creamware, and pearlware. Chinoiserie is an early example of globalization, as British ceramic manufacturers attempted to replicate the popular motifs and colourways of […]


Stamped saucer

This decoration is created by dabbing colour onto the vessel with a cut sponge or root vegetable. Designs included stars, diamonds, scrolls and daggers, flowers, various geometric shapes, eagles and other animals. From around 1845, it became common to see painted wares in which at least part of the motif was applied with a color-filled […]

Chinese Export Porcelain

In the Ontario archaeological timeline, Chinese porcelain is associated with some of our earliest Euro-Canadian sites dating to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Exporting porcelain was a huge industry in China with a long rich history, but by the time Chinese porcelain was making its way to Ontario, production was in decline. By […]