No

Ordinary

Lustre

Daisy Makeig-Jones’s China Lustres

Daisy Makeig-Jones (1881-1945) is perhaps best known for her Fairyland Lustre wares, lavishly-decorated pieces which depicted fantastical scenes of her own imagination. Lesser discussed, however, are her early pieces, referred to as Ordinary Lustres or China Lustres. Though monikered “ordinary,” these non-Fairyland lustres were anything but. Daisy Makeig-Jones’s China Lustres utilized centuries-old techniques coupled with contemporary technological innovations and were historically significant in their own right.

Daisy Makeig-Jones (1881-1945) is perhaps best known for her Fairyland Lustre wares, lavishly-decorated pieces which depicted fantastical scenes of her own imagination. Lesser discussed, however, are her early pieces, referred to as Ordinary Lustres or China Lustres. Though monikered “ordinary,” these non-Fairyland lustres were anything but. Daisy Makeig-Jones’s China Lustres utilized centuries-old techniques coupled with contemporary technological innovations and were historically significant in their own right.

Hiring Miss Daisy

Hiring Miss Daisy

Daisy Makeig-Jones’s artistic career coincided with a pivotal moment in women’s liberation. After the repression of the Victorian era, and indeed oppression of centuries earlier, the turn of the century saw more professional opportunities for independent, middle-class women. Born Susannah Margaretta Makeig-Jones, Daisy grew up in a middle-class family and was thus afforded the opportunity to explore her love of art in both academic and professional settings. Her parents supported her artistic endeavors and enrolled her in many programs to develop her talents.

After an education in the arts, including several years spent in study at various art schools, Daisy was ready to become a professional artist. She prevailed upon a distant relative to introduce her to his friend Cecil Wedgwood. Wedgwood was of course the director of the Wedgwood factory as well as the mayor of the newly-formed city of Stoke-on-Trent. At the time, it was not unusual for women to work as decorators in ceramic manufactories. However, in order to become a lead designer, as was her desire, Daisy would have to work her way up the ladder and begin her training on the factory floor. Cecil warned her that, given her privileged upbringing, she may not like working in a factory. Additionally, apprentices at the Wedgwood factory were usually 12 to 14 years old; Daisy was 28! Daisy, it seems, was up to the challenge. She came to the Wedgwood company in 1909, where she began as an apprentice painter. Her prior artistic training served to advance her career quickly, and by 1911 she had earned a staff position with an annual salary.

Daisy Makeig-Jones

Daisy Makeig-Jones

from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

The Right Time, The Right Place

The Right Time, The Right Place

The Wedgwood name had been synonymous with innovation and excellence in ceramics since its inception. However, by the turn of the century, the factory’s production output could be considered more steady and dependable than enterprising. Daisy’s arrival coincided with a new era at the Wedgwood factory that allowed her to combine historical production techniques and designs from across the world and resurrect Wedgwood’s reputation for innovation.

Majolica and Underglaze Mottling

Majolica and Underglaze Mottling

Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. ‘Sunflower’ dinner plate, ca. 1880. Earthenware with majolica glazes. From the Artistoric Collection.

Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. Pitcher and tumbler set [detail], 1877. Earthenware with majolica glazes. From the Artistoric Collection.

In 1909, Wedgwood was still enjoying the success of its majolica. Developed in 1860, Wedgwood’s majolica joined the international fever for the wares that swept across England and America, and appeared on all sorts of items, both useful and decorative. At the time of Daisy’s apprenticeship, the factory was continuing to produce these wares. Majolica production involved a technique called underglaze mottling in which a biscuit piece was dipped into majolica glaze then dabbed with color while still wet. The effect was a thickly-glazed object with variations in colors and their intensity. This technique pays an aesthetic homage to the Whieldon wares of the 18th-century, Thomas Whieldon being the mentor and first business partner of Josiah Wedgwood I. It is likely that Daisy did not work directly with majolica wares since she was a paintress, and majolica typically did not feature hand-painted designs. However, given these pieces’ popularity, it is certain that she would have seen them in abundance around the factory, if not in her middle-class childhood home.

Bleu Soufflé and Overglaze Graining

Bleu Soufflé and Overglaze Graining

During Daisy’s training years, the Wedgwood factory began experimentation to create powder-blue, or bleu soufflé, wares. It took for its model 18th-century Chinese porcelains with a chuiqing (‘blown blue’) glaze and gilded designs. In order to achieve an air-brushed effect, artisans at the Jingdezhen kilns blew powdered cobalt onto unglazed biscuit through a bamboo shoot that had a piece of very thin silk gauze at the end. A second firing secured the powder onto the piece. Chinese powder-blue wares were popular in both the Middle East (which had its own tradition of lustre described below) and in Europe, there reserved for the homes of the upper class.

At Wedgwood, a team of the company’s four leading figures was tasked with recreating the Chinese powder-blue glaze: John Goodwin, James Hodgkiss, George Adams, and Bernard Moore. The group borrowed an 18th-century Chinese bleu soufflé piece from the Victoria & Albert Museum for thorough research and imitation.

Click on the image on the right to view the V&A’s collection of the bleu soufflé wares that inspired Wedgwood’s powder blues.

Click on the image below to view the V&A’s collection of the bleu soufflé wares that inspired Wedgwood’s powder blues.

By 1912, the group was able to replicate Chinese bleu soufflé by stippling cobalt on a glazed surface with a sponge; commercial production of powder-blue ware began in August of that year. In a stroke of kismet, Daisy’s studio was next to that of James Hodgkiss, one of the lead designers tasked with replicating the Chinese bleu soufflé. Thus, she was able to observe first hand many of the experiments to develop this powder-blue technique, known as “overglaze graining.”

Lustre: A Global Phenomenon

Lustre: A Global Phenomenon

Daisy’s studio also bordered the lustre kilns, where she would have seen vessels enter with ordinary decoration and exit with shimmering iridescence. Though they saw great popularity at the turn of the century, lustred ceramics were not a new invention. The Wedgwood factory itself had been using this technique since the early nineteenth century on Moonlight Lustre wares as well as on the decorative accents of a variety of vessels and patterns. The tradition of lustre on ceramics has a long and global history that extends beyond England. The highly-prized iridescent effect was invented in modern-day Iraq in the 9th century and encouraged “pleasurable wonder” (ajab), inducing a physical reaction to a constantly changing object depending on the light and the position of the viewer. This technique made its way through the Islamic world to Spain and then to Italy in the 15th century; the latter country’s most notable examples came from Deruta maiolica. China as well had rouge flambé, a Ming-dynasty invention that featured iridescence on porcelain glazed in red. The Chinese lustres in turn encouraged Western lustre experiments by Sevres and others in the 18th century. 19th-century Staffordshire potteries also used a lustre effect to produce pieces with a copper- or silver-like ground. These Staffordshire lustrewares would have been quite familiar to Daisy: as a cheaper alternative to silver, they were ubiquitous in English middle-class homes. More contemporary lustre examples that likely inspired Daisy include William de Morgan’s Hispano-Moresque-inspired pieces and Ashworth & Co.’s “Lustrosa Ware.” The above techniques and styles would have been at Daisy’s fingertips on the Wedgwood factory’s production line, on display at worlds’ fairs and local museums, and in the private residences in which she lived and visited. All would coalesce to form the basis for Daisy’s China Lustres.

Click on the images below to view global and local lustre influences.

Lustreware Abroad…

and Close to Home

The ‘First Ten Lustre Ranges’

The ‘First Ten Lustre Ranges’

In 1914, Daisy became a full designer with her own studio. After her exposure to the varied decorative techniques employed in ceramic production, she endeavored to create a completely new and captivating style by combining the three techniques of underglaze mottling, overglaze graining, and iridescence together with fanciful designs outlined in gilt. Daisy convinced her studio neighbor James Hodgkiss and his decoration staff to help her develop the idea, and the first pattern in the First Ten Lustre series debuted in October 1914. The First Ten Lustre Ranges, consecutive pattern numbers Z4823 to Z4832, consisted of ten different patterns with different combinations of lustre colors. The First Lustres’ appearance on the market was a mere 9 months after Daisy had become a designer, and as such is evidence of her artistic vision and talent as well as her tenacity and persistence.

No. 5 Lustre Range Z4827

No. 5 Lustre Range Z4827

The Z4827 lustre range on this box, featuring gilded butterflies on a ruby lustre exterior and with a mother-of-pearl lustre interior, was the second most popular lustre/pattern combination in terms of quantities sold. A small box such as this one would have sat on a vanity as an affordable, everyday luxury item.

Ruby Lustre Box

Daisy Makeig-Jones (English, 1881-1945) for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. ‘Butterfly’ clover box, ca. 1820. Bone china with ruby lustre glazes, 3 1/2 in. L x 2 1/2 D 1 1/4 H. From the Artistoric Collection.

Daisy Makeig-Jones (English, 1881-1945) for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. ‘Butterfly’ clover box [detail of interior], ca. 1820. Bone china with ruby lustre glazes, 3 1/2 in. L x 2 1/2 D 1 1/4 H. From the Artistoric Collection.

No. 10 Lustre Range Z4832

No. 10 Lustre Range Z4832

Pattern Z4832 concluded the First Ten Lustre Ranges. In this range, Daisy used the ‘Butterfly’ pattern on a mother-of-pearl lustre exterior and an interior of orange lustre with mottled underglaze crimson. The orange was said to be Daisy’s favorite lustre color.

Wedgwood Butterfly Lustre Bowl by Daisy Makeig-Jones

Daisy Makeig-Jones (English, 1881-1945) for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. ‘Butterfly’ lustre bowl, ca. 1915. Bone china with lustre glazes, 8 7/8 in. Dm x 3 1/4 in. H. From the Artistoric Collection.

Daisy Makeig-Jones (English, 1881-1945) for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. ‘Butterfly’ lustre bowl [detail of interior], ca. 1915. Bone china with lustre glazes, 8 7/8 in. Dm x 3 1/4 in. H. From the Artistoric Collection.

The pattern shows highly ornamented, gilded butterflies. The butterfly design was taken from the Wedgwood factory’s existing copper engraving plates but further embellished with patterns and geometric details. Daisy wished to put her own unique touch on the lustres. The Butterfly range was produced from 1914 to 1929. Artistoric’s pieces are from the second release of this pattern because they show underglaze polychrome painting underneath the gilded butterflies, an innovation added by Daisy to make the design pop. Some butterflies have rather anthropomorphic expressions, and in them one can see the foundations for Daisy’s whimsical Fairyland Lustre.

Click on the butterflies to explore Daisy’s creation process.

First, Daisy took a naturalistic engraving from an existing Wedgwood design, such as this butterfly from a majolica plate.

Then, she drew the design's outline. These butterflies are known as the Open type and were filled with polychrome painting for the second release of the Butterfly pattern. Artistoric's Butterfly lustres show the Open butterfly design.

In another variation, she filled in the outlines with intricate geometric designs. This style is known as Solid butterflies.

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Daisy Makeig-Jones (English, 1881-1945) for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. ‘Butterfly’ lustre vase, ca. 1915. Bone china with lustre glazes, 11 1/2 in. H x 19 1/2 in. Dm (29.2 cm H x 49.5 cm Dm). From the Artistoric Collection.

The First Lustres’ debut coincided with the outbreak of the First World War, yet that did not dim their success to those who must have viewed these unique works of art as a respite from the horrors of war. China Lustres, and the later Fairyland Lustres even moreso, certainly provided escape to their whimsical worlds. At nearly half the price of Fairyland Lusterware, however, Ordinary Lustres sold in far greater numbers and as such were uniquely marketed to the middle- and upper-classes as affordable luxury goods. Wedgwood factory pattern codes further speak to the type of appeal the Lustres meant to represent, with codes beginning with Z falling into the category of “Fancies” or “Fancy lines,” meaning “ornamental pieces, vases, bowls, etc., as distinct from useful wares” (des Fontaines 57-58).

“Josiah Wedgwood & Sons…had a specially fine showing…of their new china lustre ware, included in which was a very fine effect in pearl colouring, and some wonderfully good rainbow effects. This series of ornamentals is one which it seemed to the writer should be largely sought after as portraying the highest technical accomplishment of the times.”

Pottery Gazette, April 1916

Other Ordinary Lustres

Other Ordinary Lustres

In 1914, Daisy became a full designer with her own studio. After her exposure to the varied decorative techniques employed in ceramic production, she endeavored to create a completely new and captivating style by combining the three techniques of underglaze mottling, overglaze graining, and iridescence together with fanciful designs outlined in gilt. Daisy convinced her studio neighbor James Hodgkiss and his decoration staff to help her develop the idea, and the first pattern in the First Ten Lustre series debuted in October 1914. The First Ten Lustre Ranges, consecutive pattern numbers Z4823 to Z4832, consisted of ten different patterns with different combinations of lustre colors. The First Lustres’ appearance on the market was a mere 9 months after Daisy had become a designer, and as such is evidence of her artistic vision and talent as well as her tenacity and persistence.

Flying Hummingbirds Lustre Range Z5294

Flying Hummingbirds Lustre Range Z5294

Daisy went on to produce twenty-seven Ordinary Lustres, each pattern differing in design and color combinations. She introduced the Flying Hummingbirds range, pattern Z5294, first in 1917 then again in 1920. Artistoric’s vase is from the second release, which features a blue lustre exterior with darker blue mottling and an interior of Daisy’s favorite orange lustre with crimson mottling. The re-release of the Flying Hummingbirds demonstrates Daisy’s business acumen: the blue and orange color combination was apparently a best seller. After her successful geometrization of butterflies, Daisy applied a similar yet bolder approach to the hummingbirds. The Wedgwood factory already had plates depicting naturalistic hummingbirds. Daisy took only their outline and filled the bodies with intricate designs and patterns, rendering them in fine overglaze gilding. The hummingbirds’ splendor is enhanced by the polychrome underglaze painting, another technique taken from the Butterfly range. The top rim and base of the vase is encircled with the Flying Geese pattern, a border that was exclusive to the Hummingbird range.

Click on the hummingbirds to explore Daisy’s creation process.

Flying Geese Pattern Flying Geese Pattern

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Flying Geese Pattern

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Flying Geese Pattern

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Daisy's hummingbirds were in fact one iteration of the design in its long history at Wedgwood. After the China Lustres, the factory brought the hummingbirds back on bone china in the 1940s and again in 1993-2004.

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Line drawings from Una des Fontaines, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones, (New York: Born-Hawes, 1975).

Daisy Makeig-Jones (English, 1881-1945) for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. ‘Flying Hummingbirds’ lustre vase, ca. 1920. Bone china with lustre glazes, 8 3/4 in. H x 4 3/4 in. W. From the Artistoric Collection.

Both the Butterfly and Flying Hummingbird Ranges were among the top most popular Ordinary Lustres. Other popular designs include fish, dragons, and Chinese motifs, the latter surely an allusion to the bleu soufflé that inspired the China Lustre movement at Wedgwood. Daisy continued experimenting with her designs and color combinations, gradually becoming wilder and more flamboyant. The Ordinary Lustres became the foundation for Daisy’s Fairyland Lustre, which first appeared in late 1915 and reached the height of production in the 1920s.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Daisy Makeig-Jones was one of the great women designers of the early 20th century, and she recognized in her lustrewares a well-deserved status of fine art. Given the variation and unpredictability of the glazes and decorative techniques, as well as Daisy’s penchant for experimentation, each Lustre piece is truly unique. Una des Fontaines describes her attitude towards her work: “when the lustre patterns began to establish themselves as a commercial success, [Daisy] dumbfounded the management by wanting individual engravings made for each and every item produced!” (des Fontaines 75). Although her wish was not granted, Daisy’s view of the Lustres’ status as individual works of art is clear, as well as her expressed desire to have each unique design properly recorded as such.

The end of the 1920s saw a stylistic change towards the monotone and plain as well as the beginnings of economic depression. The taste for Lustre, both Ordinary and Fairyland, had faded. For better and for worse, Daisy was inextricably linked to her Lustre wares. Her career at Wedgwood came to an end in 1931, and the Lustre Ranges’ production diminished until it was ultimately cancelled in 1941. However, her legacy and designs have outlasted her stay at the factory. Existing pieces today are singular and uncommon works of a rare and uncommon individual whose oeuvre is a testament to her innovation, brilliance, and persistence. Any collection of Daisy Makeig-Jones’s work ought to include her Ordinary Lustres, as they represent a significant moment in the history of ceramics, if not only as the genesis of her later works.

Bibliography & Suggested Readings

Bibliography & Suggested Readings

des Fontaines, Una. Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: the Work of Daisy-Makeig Jones. New York: Born-Hawes, 1975.

des Fontaines, Una and Lionel Lambourne. Miss Jones and her Fairyland: Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre: The Work of Daisy Makeig-Jones. London: V&A Publications, 1990.

Gaffney, Dennis. “Firing Miss Daisy: What Happened at Wedgwood?” Antiques Roadshow. Public Broadcasting Service, 13 February 2006.

About the Author

About the Author

Bailey Tichenor is the Director of Artistoric. Her specialties include 18th- and 19th-century European and American arts, collections management and care, and digital humanities. She has worked with the collections of museums and galleries throughout the United States in curatorial, collections management, and consultant positions. Bailey has a Master of Arts degree in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture from Bard Graduate Center, where she focused on historic collections management and American decorative arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in Art History with a minor in Classics from Belmont University.