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Porcelain painting (china painting) was adopted in 1981. Porcelain painting (china painting) is recognized as a fine art in Tennessee by Chapter 55 of the Public Acts of 1981. (TCA 4-1-313)
Today, Blue Ridge pottery claims status in the vintage collectible marketplace and demands a variety of prices from inexpensive to pricey. The distinctive hand painted patterns, colorful floral designs and creamy white background give the pieces a distinctive appearance and create a challenge for any collector interested in American made dinnerware.
Formed in Erwin, Tennessee around 1917, Southern Potteries, Inc. manufactured a line of dinnerware using local materials bearing the Blue Ridge name. The company produced limited amounts of dinnerware during the early years but in 1920, a new owner took over production and brought in a unique method for hand painting patterns underneath the glaze. This process created brightly colored pieces that gained instant popularity. Local men worked in a hot and sticky factory to mold the clay and hand form delicate details. Lines of women and young girls spent hours sitting at a table using free hand painting methods to create the designs. This labor intensive process created desirable Depression era jobs in the rural southern U.S. Production peaked during World War II then fell off in the 1950's causing the plant to close in 1957.
As the Southern Potteries Co. evolved so did the markings on the dinnerware. Although not every piece of Blue Ridge contains an official mark, many pieces bear either a Blue Ridge designation or Southern Potteries label on the underside of the piece. Very often, teacups and saucers, creamers and small plates will not show any mark but can be identified through the pattern. Many pieces include the designation "Hand Painted, Underglaze"and "Made in U.S.A.". Several basic shapes create a line of styles and may be identified by a piecrust edge, a scallop or smooth edge. Although a few of the later patterns included a speckled or plaid background, most pieces carry a characteristic creamy white base. Because each piece was hand painted, slight discrepancies within the patterns such as sizes of flowers, embellished strokes and color variations are common. The most distinctive feature of Blue Ridge pottery is the brightly colored one-dimensional floral designs.
Most of the Blue Ridge porcelain china pieces were made as accessories for the dinnerware sets. Typically, pitchers, tea and coffee pots, chocolate sets, salt and pepper shakers, sugar and creamers and serving dishes were made from a finer grade material. Production of the Blue Ridge chinaware arrived in 1945 and resulted in beautifully crafted smooth textured porcelains. Considered the most valuable in any collection, these pieces typically carry a mark designating "China"on the underside.
The law designating Porcelain painting (china painting) as the official Tennessee state fine art is found in the Tennessee Code Annotated, title 4, chapter 1, part 3, section 4 -1-313
Title 4 State Government
Chapter 1 General Provisions
Part 3 State Symbols
Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-1-313 (2011)
4-1-313. Porcelain painting.
Porcelain painting (china painting) is recognized as a fine art in Tennessee.
History. Acts 1981, ch. 55, § 1.