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6.4 Conclusion

There was a growing 'library' of information available for anyone looking for design ideas in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The pattern books produced for the silk weaving industry and for needlework provided a range of plant and animal designs. There were also pattern books for furniture decoration and for use in the kitchen. The range of motifs included flowers, tulips, leaves, and birds. The mottoes on the Buckley pieces may have been inspired by the verses which appeared on platters used as table decoration.

The revival of interest in the medieval bestiaries at a time when more people were able to read, and coinciding with the growth of Puritanism, suggests that the moral aspects associated with the bestiaries would have been well known to the people of the time. The verbal descriptions and illustrations in the texts could easily inspire potters to reproduce the ideas themselves.

As well as the pattern books, objects featuring popular designs would have been available in a place like Chester, which was the nearest sizeable market to Buckley. It had a thriving market and an affluent society. Fine silks and embroidery, other textiles, furniture and household goods would have been accessible for anyone to see and purchase. Buckley pottery was traded regularly in the city, providing ample opportunity for Buckley folk to browse and purchase items to take home.

Although very few examples of contemporary wallpaper survive, it is thought that all ranks of society used paper for decoration in the 16th and 17th centuries (Teynac et al. 1982, 21). It is possible, therefore, that the potters in Buckley had wallpaper in their homes or had visited other houses which had wallpaper. Designs include flowers and scrolling stems, often in stylised patterns. Some of these themes could have been copied on to the pots, either unconsciously or deliberately.

The regional furniture of Lancashire and Cheshire features, in particular, designs of tulips, leaves and dragons, very similar to the Buckley images. Furniture craftsmen travelled round the country (Elsdon 1981, 5) and could possibly have had some contact with Buckley. Documentary evidence suggests that potters moved between potting centres (Moorhouse and Roberts 1992, 110), so it is more than likely that craftspeople in different trades had contacts with each other.

The most common themes on the pots from Buckley – tulips, leaves, mottoes, animals and birds – relate very closely to the designs featured on other objects made in the same period. As these motifs are specific subjects, they must have been suggested to the Buckley potters from outside sources such as the ones suggested here. Those designs that are less specific, e.g. lines, scallops, slashes, could quite easily have been created in the mind of the potter in the same way that one may doodle on a notepad. Many of the designs found at Buckley are also seen on other sgraffito and slipware ceramics from other production centres in Britain and Europe. It is clear that the source for the designs and patterns on the sgraffito pieces is a combination of outside influence and personal experimentation.

Transmission of the sgraffito technique, the designs and its use in pottery production reached Buckley through trade contacts. This development can be traced over the centuries from the Far East to Britain.

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