• Since Josiah I’s earliest fascination with nature, the natural world has proved to be a source of constant inspiration for the craftspeople and designers of Josiah Wedgwood & Sons.

Wedgwood and Nature

  • by the Wedgwood Museum team

Cauliflower ware teapot

Theme

Josiah Wedgwood I is best known for his classically-inspired wares. However in his early manufacturing days Josiah, in common with many other Staffordshire-based ceramic manufacturers, produced rococo-style wares inspired by fruit and vegetable forms.

Wedgwood used an earthenware body that could be naturalistically modelled or moulded into these forms. The lower part of the cauliflower ware was crafted to closely resemble leaves and was then covered with a brilliant-green glaze. The cauliflower ‘head’ was glazed cream or yellow. William Greatbatch supplied Wedgwood with models for such wares. Josiah also produced melon and pineapple wares, and the green glaze used to decorate these lifelike items is thought by many to have been developed by Wedgwood himself.

In the early years Josiah exported a great deal of what he called ‘colley-flower’ wares to Europe, particularly to Holland. Ceramic retailers such as Samuel Tabor in Rotterdam frequently wrote to the Wedgwood at his Brick House Works in Burslem requesting fine goods such as ‘…Lanskip, pineapple, Colleflower &c but these must be in setts…’

From time to time during Wedgwood’s history these naturalistic wares have experienced revivals. The Barlaston factory last produced ranges of cauliflower wares in the 1950s. At that time other traditional forms and patterns were also being revived after the decorating restrictions in the ceramic industry were lifted after the end of World War Two.

Catalogue

In the early days of the company wares were not as sophisticated as the classically inspired production of later years. Around 1759, when the Wedgwood factory was first established, earthenware items naturalistically modelled or moulded in the form of fruits and vegetables formed a staple part of the factory’s production.