Sprigged

Bow Handled Bowpot in the V&A collections, c1810
Sprigged stoneware is a type of ware made by Spode in the late 1700s and then intermittently through to the 1930s.

Stoneware is a particular type of ceramic body (recipe) as are bone china, earthenware and stone china. Different manufacturers used many different recipes. Its basic characteristics are that it is vitreous, strong and opaque and can be made in different colours. Certain stonewares also have other names, e.g. jasper and black basalt. The ware is made glazed and unglazed and was used for both ornamental and useful wares. As well as white, coloured clays were used and there is also 'jasper dip' which was a white body coated with a thin layer of coloured clay, such as a blue, applied as slip (liquid clay). This would then be sprigged in a contrasting colour.
Sprig mould for leaf

The raised decoration on this stoneware is in the form of sprigs which are little ornamental motifs made from clay. The sprigs are made by pressing clay into small sprig moulds of a specially textured fine earthenware. The surplus clay is scraped off to leave a smooth back to the sprig which is then gently coaxed out of the mould. The surface of the pot (unfired) is then moistened and the sprigs carefully applied. (May 2012: you can see a lovely little film on this process at Wedgwood).
Spode 'Crocodial' teapot, c1815

During the Spode early period (c1770-1833) many colours were made including white on blue, blue on white, blue on drab, blue on brown, black on red, pale browns and very dark brown (almost black) sprigged in white and white on black. Many different influences drove the designs of Spode's sprigged stoneware from classical to 'Egyptomania' to hunting. Items ranged from tea wares to potpourri jars; incense burners to ale jugs; vases to pyrophorus pots.
Sprigged stoneware was initially popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s and made by several manufacturers, notably Wedgwood. Spode bone china was also decorated with sprigs. Sadly full details of the range of sprigged stoneware made by Spode are not recorded.
Catalogue page (detail) c1900
In the late 1800s Spode, under the Copelands, began to make this type of ware in quantity again, often glazed, and it appears in catalogues of this time. It was produced from about 1890-1910 when the usual combination of colours was green clay added onto brown, dark blue onto grey and medium blue onto buff coloured clay. During this period it often has a backstamp featuring a little boat, known as Frank's Boat Mark (we don't know who Frank was!). The style of wares was produced again from the late 1920s to about 1938 when only the blue ground was reintroduced. Items from this later period have a different backstamp with no little boat.

In the late 19th/early20th century the method of decoration at Spode was as follows. The basic shapes were thrown in clay of the required colour. When the item was leather hard a coloured slip could then be applied if required. Ornamental bead patterns could be added by using a roulette. The roulette is a hand tool. It has a small decorative metal wheel attached to a wooden handle. Different patterns and different widths were available to produce a variety of decorative beads. A combination of designs were often used together. The roulette was pressed into the green, or leather hard, clay as the pot is rotated. This is called 'running a bead'. (An illustration can be found in 'Manufacturing Processes of Tableware during the Eighteenth & Nineteenth Centuries' by Robert Copeland, page 110. Click HERE> for full details on my booklist). The sprigs would then be applied to the piece in the correct place, either as borders and/or as the main decoration, and over the coloured slip if used. At this period many different designs and colourways on different shapes were available.
Rouletted bands either side of sprigging

Jug with weighted, hinged lid, c1920s

Some pieces from the late 19th century have Marlborough Blenheim printed as part of the backstamp and it is thought these were made for use at Blenheim Palace by the Marlborough family. The mark probably acted as an identification mark associating the pieces with that property. This backstamp is recorded in one of the badge books in the Spode Archive and is sometimes seen in conjunction with the company backstamp with the little boat. 

Sporting and drinking subjects were popular as were scenes of hunting. There was also a range decorated with female figures described by Robert Copeland as 'twelve damsels dressed in diaphanous draping' and these are often known as the 'Dancing Hours'. Commemorative items were produced in this type of ware too including those to mark HM Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and special commissions such as golfing and rugby pieces.

For more information please see Spode & Copeland Marks... by Robert Copeland detailed on my booklist.