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Recent Articles 24 February 2019

In 1938, Carlton Ware began to introduce a small range of tube-lined patterns. It was the pottery's first venture into this type of freehand decoration. On some, the palette was muted and matt coloured glazes were used to add to their effect. All were executed on existing shapes.

Tube-lining is accomplished by piping a fine trail of soft clay onto the body of a pot, giving an outline for further decoration. A good analogy is that of piping icing onto a cake or squeezing toothpaste from a tube.

The most popular of these untypical Carlton Ware decorations was TUBE-LINED FLOWER shown below on a MODERN WARE shape jug and allocated the pattern number 3945. The pattern was designed by Violet Elmer, probably in conjunction with the tube-liners or perhaps the  'Missus', who oversaw decorators' work.

Above - Two faces of a Carlton Ware MODERN WARE jug, shape 1347
decorated with
TUBE-LINED FLOWER pattern number 3945.

A Little Background

The heyday of tube-lining was between 1890-1910 during the Art Nouveau period. Good examples are Minton's Secessionist Ware, Frederick Rhead's work for Wileman & Co. and designs by William Moorcroft at James Macintyre & Co. The method was also used to great effect on tiles for buildings, washstands and fireplaces.

Today, Moorcroft and Charlotte Rhead are best known for use of the technique, which is thought to have been introduced to The Potteries by Harry Barnard. In the 1890s, Barnard worked for Doulton at Lambeth, James Macintyre & Co. and Wedgwood in Stoke-on-Trent, all of whom used the technique.

Tube-lining was a curious departure for Carlton Ware because the skills needed had not been employed at the pottery previously, though the similar, but finer, raised paste decorations had been employed there in the 1890s. Was their introduction a reaction to Charlotte Rhead's success, which began in the 1920s? Was it a response to Carlton Ware's main competitor, Fieldings, makers of Crown Devon, who had introduced a large range of tube-lined patterns in the mid 1930s? If so, it does seem to be slow off the blocks. It is unlikely that we will ever know why the range was introduced, though it may be as simple as diversification to increase sales.

The first of Carlton Ware's range was TUBE-LINED TREE pattern numbers 3943 and 3944, also devised by Violet Elmer.
Examples are shown below.
TUBE-LINED TREE 3943 & 3944 Above - Two examples of Carlton Ware's TUBE-LINED TREE decorations, 3943 and 3944.

The next pattern in the range was TUBE-LINED POPPY & BELL 3974, which Violet Elmer told us was probably by Betty Wiltshaw, Cuthbert Wiltshaw's eldest daughter. Miss Betty, as she was known at Copeland Street, worked under the supervision of Miss Elmer for about two years, leaving the pottery shortly after her 21st birthday in June 1938.

Right - Two faces of an ovoid vase, shape 443 decorated with
Carlton Ware's


The third of Miss Elmer's tube-lined patterns has a 'crazy paving' background though in pattern records it is called TUBE-LINED WIRE NETTING. It was allocated pattern number 3975 and is shown on the plaque on the left.

Another variant has been found, as shown on the MODERN WARE trinket tray below. This version has a blue background but it was not entered into pattern records so this might be a sample that did not go into production.

Above - Carlton Ware's TUBE-LINED WIRE NETTING decorations.
Left - a plaque, pattern number 3975. Right - a trinket tray, no pattern number so a possible sample.


At the time of the introduction of Carlton Ware's original tube-lined patterns, Violet Elmer was preparing for marriage after which she was to leave the pottery. Irene Pemberton, known as Reenie, took over as designer. Before leaving, however, Miss Elmer agreed to show Miss Pemberton the ropes and so they worked together for a short time.

Sequentially, the penultimate of Miss Elmer's tube-lined patterns was named TUBE-LINED MARIGOLDS with pattern number 4012. An example is shown right on vase shape 464. The matt yellow glaze ground on this is stippled with claret and black and overlaid with splashes of green glaze.

Right - Carlton Ware's TUBE-LINED MARIGOLDS
pattern number 4012 on vase shape 462.

Tube-lined Heatwave

The last of Miss Elmer's tube-lined patterns was unnamed in the pottery's records but has been given the name Tube-lined Heatwave 4092, partly because of its warm colours.

No other variant is listed in the pottery's records so when an example was found with a blue mottled ground we can only guess this was also a sample that did not go into production.
Above - Carlton Ware's Tube-lined Heatwave decorations.
Left - pattern number 4092 on vase shape 738.
Right - a MODERN WARE jug no number so a possible sample.


The first of Reenie Pemberton's tube-lined patterns portrays a rural landscape. It was called TUBE-LINED TREE & FIELDS and given the pattern number 4138. Miss Pemberton departs from the use of matt glazes employed by Miss Elmer, choosing a shiny glaze instead.

Miss Pemberton's design is very much in the style of the period, though her work was soon to be curtailed by the approaching war.

To my eye, this design brings to mind the watercolour landscapes of Eric Ravilious, who coincidently was working in the Potteries at the same time. He was employed by Wedgwood between 1936 and 1940. In 1940, Ravilious was made an Official War Artist, but was lost on active service in 1942.

pattern number 4138 on a MODERN WARE tray,
shape 1571.

TUBE-LINED TULIP 4162 & Tube-lined Sprig 4163

The last two designs from the tube-lined range are shown on the left, namely TUBE-LINED TULIP 4162 and an unnamed pattern that is now called Tube-lined Sprig 4163.

Again, Reenie Pemberton employs shiny glazes. Their pattern numbers suggest that they were introduced in 1939. In September that year, War was declared on Germany, which must have halted the introduction and production of any more designs in this untypical range. Many decorators were deployed to war work and output concentrated on essential items or for export.

Far Left - TUBE-LINED TULIP 4162.
Near Left - Tube-lined Sprig 4163.
In Conclusion

I think we can safely say that all of Carlton Ware's tube-lined patterns show great originality. They are also very much of their time and unlike many other potteries do not reply on copying from the past. TUBE-LINED FLOWER 3945 appears to have been the most popular pattern from the range, partly because it was in production for longer as World War Two curtailed the venture.

© Harvey Pettit 2019

Following our usual convention, patterns named in the pottery's records are shown in BOLD UPPERCASE.
Names given by the long-standing Carlton Ware World naming committee are shown in
Bold Capitalised Lowercase.
Shape names given in the pottery's records are simply shown in UPPERCASE.

11 November 2018
Armistice Day Centenary

The purpose of this article is to pay tribute to all of those killed, injured or badly affected by World War I and the sacrifices that they made.

On Nov. 11, 1918, fighting in World War I ended following the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany that called for a ceasefire effective at 11 am – it was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Carlton Ware commemorated the Armistice on some of its Heraldic China related to the war. One example is a model of a field service cap shown on the left.
One of the most impressive tributes to those lost in war was the installation Blood Swept Lands & Seas of Red staged in the moat of the Tower of London in 2014. The artwork marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It comprised 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for every British or colonial life lost at the front, many made in Stoke-on-Trent. In all, an estimated five million people saw the memorial.

Weeping Window at Middleport Pottery 2018
Beginning in September 2015, two segments of the installation, The Wave and Weeping Window toured the UK visiting nineteen different locations. The last for Weeping Window was at Middleport Pottery during August and September this year. We visited the Pottery in 2014 and held our Annual Get-together there in 2015.

Ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, who devised the installation, unveiled
Weeping Window at Middleport on the 2nd August. The picture on the right shows the completed artwork in position cascading from the chimney of a bottle oven.

Weeping Window is now at Imperial War Museum in London and The Wave at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.

Throughout 2014, to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War I, Carlton Ware World featured 12 monthly articles on Carlton Heraldic China relating to the conflict. Click on, or touch the button below to have a peek.

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Harvey Pettit © Copyright 2018/19. All rights reserved.