George Owen took the art form of reticulation on porcelain and developed it to an extraordinary complexity and perfection for Royal Worcester. He applied the style to larger vases and incorporated complicated motifs in his pierced designs that covered the entire surface. The overall effect imitated East Asian and Indian ivory carving which audiences saw at international exhibitions of hte period.
The process took months of slow, careful work to pierce thousands of holes on a single piece. In this vase there are over 5,000! Every hole was cut by hand using an oiled knife when the clay was still leather-hard – damp enough to cut but strong enough to hold its shape. Owen would have worked on several objects at a time in rotation – working on one, then putting it into a ‘wet box’ (a box covered with damp cloths) to maintain the right consistency in the clay. In Henry Sandon’s view this vase was probably one of the most difficult ceramic items ever made.
This object wowed the international audience at the Chicago World Fair in 1893. It travelled to America in a white velvet box lined with blue silk and was priced at £126 ($1,210) at the exhibition.
Artist: George Owen
Material: Glazed Parian
Factory: Royal Worcester
From the Archive
Showstopper sponsor: Debbie and Paul Jagla
“The technique and precision required to make this breathtaking vase made a huge impression on me the first time I walked into the Museum in 2006. So it’s a real privilege to be associated with such finesse!”