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Tri-coloured jasper vase and cover with engine-turned dicing - c.1880

Tri-coloured jasper vase and cover with engine-turned dicing, © Wedgwood Museum
    Tri-coloured jasper vase and cover with engine-turned dicing
    © Wedgwood Museum

Tri-coloured jasper with engine-turned dicing on lid and foot c.1880

Tri-coloured jasper with engine-turned dicing on lid and foot c.1880

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/vase
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD
  • Year produced: c.1880
  • Body: Jasper
  • Decoration: engine-turned
  • Accession number: 5735


  • Jasper


    A fine-grained stoneware body developed by Josiah Wedgwood I in the mid 1770s, and the ceramic ware most associated with the name. The most famous colour combination known today is the traditional blue and white, which is usually decorated with classical bas reliefs.

    With changes in architectural styles and the rise in popularity of neo-classical styles of interior decoration Josiah Wedgwood began a series of experiments to create a new ceramic material that would complement the new fashions. Thousands of meticulously recorded experiments were carried out to make a stoneware body that was capable of taking a mineral oxide stain throughout. The search for the jasper body absorbed much of Wedgwood's energy and time, the result being his most important contribution to ceramic history.

    The majority of the actual trials were carried out between December 1772 and December 1774, Josiah writing on the 17 March of the latter year: ‘have for some time past been reviewing my experiments, & I find such Roots, such Seeds as would open & branch out wonderfully if I could nail myself down to the cultivation of them for a year or two'.

    By January 1775 he was ‘absolute' in the production of jasper with coloured grounds. He was also in a position to advertise that he could manufacture bas reliefs, ranging from large plaques to small cameos for mounting as jewellery. The range of colours steadily increased, and by March 1776 Josiah was sending his first specimens of yellow to London. By September experiments were in hand for black jasper. Certainly by Spring of 1777 he was carrying out further experiments to perfect a surface ‘dip' to provide deeper coloured grounds for his cameos; and by the middle of December 1777, he was able to offer Bentley a choice of ‘Green - yellow - lalock [lilac] etc. to the colour of the rooms', referring to the tones favoured by their mutual acquaintance the architect Robert Adam.


  • Engine-turning lathe

    Engine-turning lathe

    This specialist piece of equipment has an eccentric motion that enables a range of decorative, repetitive patterns to be cut into ornamental wares before firing, using a special cutting tool. Wedgwood is credited with the introduction of this piece of equipment in the ceramic industry in 1763. The technique of engine turning is a highly-skilled operation for both the turner and his assistant. Decorative patterns that can be achieved on the engine-turning lathe include fluting and dicing.