American Belleek is a highly esteemed form of delicate china which is based off of the original Irish Belleek. It is made out of a very thin, white, almost translucent-looking porcelain material, which took many years to perfect in Ireland, and in the late 1800s it made its way over to the United States where it was adopted.
American manufacturing roughly began around the 1870s, where the primary focus was to imitate the original Irish designs, but soon they began diverting from the Irish and adopting different global techniques from countries all over the world, which created very unique and “multicultural” designs. Pieces that were created back in the early days of American Belleek can be rather hard to come by, as the original pieces are quite rare. It is said that, “Less than 20 companies manufactured American Belleek during a short 50-year period. This short period of production makes American Belleek one of the more desired American collectibles in the collecting field”, although newer pieces and designs can still be found.
The soft white porcelain material, makes the pieces appear to be almost translucent, and the thin design of the pieces makes for very elegant, lightweight products. This type of china is elegant in its use of pure colors, particularly the smooth white of most of the pieces, however, American Belleek did begin to include colorful designs in the work, while still maintaining the elevated sophistication that Irish Belleek had.
This form of pottery tends to revolve around natural themes, whether it be plants, animals, or innocent scenes of humans in natural settings. The texture is generally smooth, although in some designs there are gentle textures of flowers, or soothing patterns. The gesture of most of the pieces also seem to have natural inspiration, usually being very thin, the smooth curves in many of the lips of mugs, bowls and vases, resemble blooming flowers. The pieces are very proportional, with delicate handles, that are practical, but also make it clear to potential users that one must be careful with the delicate porcelain. The light pigment emphasizes the fragile beauty of the pieces, and the artwork displayed seems to tell stories from many different cultures.