Friday, August 26

Why In Design Column: All About Our Fascination With Japanese Lusterware

 Japanese Lusterware:
Set the table with this beautiful porcelain, 
an easy to find & accessible antique
sailboat book ends in Lusterware

We've been busy this summer researching and writing lots of stories about design, entertaining, fashion, travel and it's been awhile since we posted one of our favorite columns, Why In Design.  First introduced five years ago, these stories here on Nest by Tamara help to uncover facts and historical references to some of our favorite and iconic designs.  Our family spends the last few weeks of summer in East Hampton where there are many antique shows, flea markets and sales.  I have been on an antique hunt this summer picking up tabletop items to add to our rich collections.  I especially like to collect smalls for entertaining--plates, tea sets, vases and other wares that can later be mingled with modern day pieces to create interesting table settings.  One of my favorite items to collect is Japanese Lusterware which is relatively inexpensive.  These items have a translucent finish which gives them a modern and glamorous appeal.  I hope you enjoy these little tidbits about Lusterware below, and I encourage you to keep your eyes open for these gems. I hope you'll tuck this knowledge away for when you hit the antique trail!
Happy Nesting 
XO Tamara 
Japanese tea sets in Lusterware
this set came with a set of cake plates
I nabbed a set of these 8 lunch plates for only $15 on Shelter Island

What is Lusterware?
The original Lusterware is English porcelain utilizing four different materials--copper, platinum, gold and the color pink/purple. The porcelain house Wedgewood put out these beauties in the 19th century, and many simulating Mother Of Pearl with a beautiful opalescent finish.  Later, Germany produced them as well, and these pieces are popular today.  It is a porcelain finish with a metallic looking glaze, showing an iridescent glow.  This top layer has a metallicoxides over glaze.   The pieces are fired a second time at a lower temperature to fix this over glaze.  

The Japanese basically knocked off the fancy version to create these porcelain and pottery replicas with their very own twist.  Japanese Lusterware was made between the 1920s to 1940s.  Some have markings of "Made In Japan", while others a simple marking of three blue Japanese characters, or a "Nippon" or "Noritake" signature, and others  marked with an "M" and a wreath signature.  They take on an Art Noveau aesthetic with a luster finish and unusual colors like lavender, gold and melon combined. It is typical to find them with hand painted flowers, birds or a pastoral scene of some sort channeling the orient, or some have no adornment at all, just the pretty color combinations and the glow. Tea sets, lunch and dinner plate sets, book ends, creamers and sugars, pitchers, salt and pepper, vases, and other unusual accessories like wall pockets are popular.  

We have had some Lusterware in our family for years when family members brought back pieces of this particular type of Lusterware after World War 2, and since our uncle was stationed in Germany, I suspect these pieces may be German but all have a Japanese sign on the bottom.  We are particularly smitten with the tea sets, which have a hologram of a Geisha at the bottom of each tiny cup.  The cups are much smaller than a regular tea cup.  Today, we nabbed a set of 8 Lusterware dessert plates for only $15 at a yard sale in Shelter Island, and they go well with the rest of the collections I already have. 

setting a lunch table with Lusterware in New York City

Lusterware without adornment has an even more modern feel