Spatter Ware and Sponge Ware – Is there a difference?

Spatter Ware and Sponge Ware – Is there a difference?

Splash wares and sponge wares are some ceramic terms that are often linked or assumed to be the same thing. Are they the same or not?

Spatter pottery originated in Staffordshire, England around 1750. Back then, they were called sponge pottery. And it was really very common to use sponges.

During the 19th century, English sponge creations were more popular than ever, and Wedgwood began making them for the American market and exporting them. Arriving in America, he became popular for the technique with which he decorated himself, which he called splashing. Therefore, it became popularly known as splash ware. From this, it appears that splash and sponge items are the same and simply came to be known by different names. But the distinction is not only there.

Splattering was the name given to the process of applying colorful designs to items before they were glazed and fired. Often the decorating process was done with a small sponge. But it was not done with a sponge in all cases. The reason splash ware is often called sponging is because splattering (the process of carefully painting dots on pottery by hand) creates an effect very similar to the effect you get from using a sponge. Therefore, when speaking of splatter or sponge, one can call either name when referring to a single decoration effect. The difference lies in the actual way a ceramic piece is decorated. And due to the fact that making splash pottery is much more labor intensive, it also commands a higher price compared to sponge pottery.

Splatter/sponge items can commonly be seen with splatter designs on the edges and painted motifs in the center. There are different varieties identifiable by their patterns. Sponge Blue Spatter or Blue Sponge items have splatters but no painted motifs in the center. Sponge Spatter or Stick-Sponge Spatter items were decorated with molded sponges used to make six-pointed rosettes, vines, and wavy lines. Virginia products tended to be overcrowded flowers dotted around the edges, a central figure or pattern, and rosettes between the figure and margin designs.

So is splash dishware the same as sponge dishware? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because if you go to the United States to buy ceramics, the most recognizable term will be splash; however, if you go to England to shop, you might as well say you’re looking for sponge items and you’ll get the same thing. The answer is also no, because if you are going to talk about how a pottery piece is made, you may want to use the correct terms to make sure you are clear.

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