Thursday 19 January 2023

Layers of Victoriana


Tea caddies, originally called tea canisters, first came to Europe in enamels made of Chinese porcelain, in white and blue colours. The caddies, used for tea leaves, often had locks to prevent theft of tea by serving staff. In the 1800’s wooden caddies became more popular, usually walnut, mahogany or pine. Wooden tea caddies were often decorated with Papier-Mache, giving them soft delicate outer designs.

Papier-Mache, first originated in China, with examples dating back to the Hans Dynasty (BC 202 – AD 220), was used for festival creations such as masks and ornaments. It is a composite material, using pulp and paper mashed together and bound with adhesives such as glue.

The use of Papier-Mache to create inexpensive, attractive objects became popular in the Georgian and Victorian period, between the 1700 and 1900s. Papier-Mache is sometimes moulded into a shape, but is often applied to a solid form to create decoration. In the 1700’s this included small boxes, ceiling decoration and inkstands. By the Victorian period, methods of creating Papier-Mache items had changed and instead of time-consuming hand moulding, items were created using machine, industrialising the process, this meant that it could be used to decorate furniture, leading to the creation of Japanning; the process of making items look like they are Japanese lacquer works. Japanning was popular throughout the Victorian period and solid items were given intricate detailing, often flowers, birds and patterns, with heavily polished finishes; some with inlaid embellishments such as shell and mother of pearl.

No comments: