Lockdown teacups

July 5, 2021 | 9 Comments

Here in Sydney at the moment, we are back in lockdown and so to add a little something distinctive to my daily routine I’m drinking out of a different teacup each day. And of course, sketching them!

I normally drink my tea from a fancy cup anyway but it’s usually the same cup for a number of days at a time. So a different one each day feels like it’s a special occasion and even more so when I’m getting my good cups out.

My good cups are the expensive bone china cups – Royal Albert, Coalport, Royal Daulton, etc and the older vintage cups. My everyday collection includes all my T2 teacups (often very complex patterns) plus some of the other local brands (such as Ashdene) which are either stoneware or bone china. In the early days T2 cups were not generally bone china but in recent years I only buy their china cups. Ashdene cups are my favourite to drink from (their china seems to keep my tea warmer for longer) but are generally plainer in design.

I’ve not been in such a teacup sketching mood for a long time. Last year when I was doing the project of sketching all my teacups it became a little bit of a chore… but this time I feel motivated. And it feels great!

There is a lot of stuff happening in the background at the moment, so all of these sketches are done very quickly. I have a brief break in my workday and do the sketch in its entirety while drinking my tea. I’m not trying to create a masterpiece, just simply record the little moment in my day. But, I’m hoping that by doing one of these each day, I’ll start doing something different with my teacup sketches soon.

Here are the first five of my lockdown teacups…

  T2 Eleganza Flamingo tall cup and saucer. This is one of the more complex patterns, so this was a very loose interpretation.

My first Ashdene cup which I use for green or herbal tea. This was a cup of Lemon Myrtle tea drunk and sketched in the evening.

T2 Peacock cup which has the most unusual saucer shape. It was a gift from Emmanuel School in Hobart after teaching a number of workshops back in 2014. BTW I have a separate tag for Peacock Teacups 🙂

Another Ashdene cup – Jardin Peony design – done with a little watercolour pencil for something different.

Royal Albert 100 years set – 1920s Spring Meadow. This sketch is a very strong interpretation of the very delicate cup pattern

As for lockdown, it’s the first time since the initial period (March-May 2020) that we’ve had stay-at-home orders (in my part of Sydney) so I’m not complaining. I’m very thankful for all the freedom that we’ve had and that my apartment gets lots of wonderful winter sun! And for my amazing teacup collection which brings delightful colour and pattern into my everyday life.

BTW, I’m also sketching my morning coffees (in a cup and saucer) but that’s another story!


  • Rachael Ayres says:

    I’d love to sometimes see not only the sketch but also the teacup and saucer to see how you interpret what you see. Thanks!

  • martine says:

    Sorry to hear you are in lockdown. Here in The Netherlands we are out of lockdown since af few weeks after what seemed like an never ending period of lock down. Your courses and especially the live streams were often the highlight in those weeks. So thank you for that. And I hope the Aussie lockdown is short and you get to go on sketch outings soon!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Martine! I can’t imagine what it would be like to have long lockdowns like you and many other people have had. Hope you have freedom now! And the livestreams are the highlght of my week too 🙂

  • Jeanne Wade says:

    Hello Liz, I always look forward to your tea cup sketches. I would love to now where and how you store all those beautiful tea cups. I too collect vintage tea set’s and find it so challenging to display and store them. A sketch of your storage would be delightful. Stay safe.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jeanne. My storage isn’t very exciting and I live in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment. So my everyday cups are simply stacked in an overhead cupboard above my kettle (I shared a photo to IG once) and my good cups are stored in their original boxes (or shoe boxes) above my pantry.

  • Lea Newton says:

    I so wish you would teach a tea cup class!
    Yours are so outstanding! The shading and loose nature
    Boggle my mind. I’m a super fan ? Thank you Liz!

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