Teacups 40-43: Three vintage cups and a plastic one

August 26, 2020 | 2 Comments

Which one of these teacups is plastic? Can you tell?

(Those of you who follow me on Instagram will already know the answer!)

Teacup 40: My Chicago plastic cup!

Yes, this cup is melamine but looks very much like fine bone china.

This is my traveling teacup and I’ve taken it with me on a few holidays/vacations. I nearly always take loose leaf tea with me when I travel, but when I go overseas I normally take a tall plastic mug and use an infuser. So this teacup doesn’t go on the big overseas trips with me, just smaller local ones.

It’s called my Chicago cup as I got it for a demo I did there called Sip and Sketch: How to sketch hot beverages on location without them going cold. It was all about starting with the shape of the tea, getting the main volumes done next and then adding the pattern while sipping. It’s really important to me that I do my teacup sketches while I’m drinking hot tea!

This cup has a very delicate pattern but I had fun making it more bold. I had thought about getting out a small brush to make some finer lines, but in the end just stuck with my normal 1/2 inch dagger brush for the whole sketch.

Teacup 41: Yellow and Black Royal Bayreuth

Most of the fancy teacup and saucers in my collection are English bone china but this cup is Royal Bayreuth from Germany. I’ve been trying to research its age online by looking up the stamp – apparently if the two lions holding the shield are facing away from each other, the china is from after 1968. I thought it might have been older than that.

It has a curious design with yellow on the inside of the cup but plain white on the outside with only a simple trim of gold. This makes it good for sketching because I normally don’t see much of the cup design as I’m drinking tea out of it.

As for the pattern… the black is really strong and the few flowers are somewhat muted so it’s a rather curious combination. Of course when I painted the cup I was able to adjust the pattern slightly so that my black detail was more subdued and the flowers more vibrant. I also lightened the yellow a little bit so it looked better next to the tea colour. It’s fun to be able to change things to make them prettier!

In real life this cup would look the best when drinking black coffee out of it because milk tea is too similar in hue and colour to the yellow. But I enjoy the experience of drinking tea out of it as the shape of the cup is very nice – the handle and the rim just feel great.

Another curious thing about this cup and saucer is that I’ve actually never sketched it before. I have no idea why! It was a gift from a sketcher in California in 2017 (thanks Steve!) and I think I must have put it away when I returned from my trip and never drank out of it. I don’t use my vintage cups that much, and if I don’t use them, I don’t sketch them. Still it’s strange that I missed sketching this at the time. So it feels  really good to finally sketch this cup.

Teacup 42: Aynsley Turquoise and Gold

This isn’t technically part of my teacup collection as it’s part of a set that my parents acquired recently. I borrowed one of the cups to sketch a few years ago and it’s still in my possession. Oops! Anyway I thought I had better sketch it as part of this series since it’s in with the rest and it’s the only Aynsley cup I’ve sketched.

The gold is a combination of paint (original Quinacridone Gold) and gold gel pen. It was late at night when I did this and I was experimenting with different techniques.

Teacup 43: Shelley Trees and Sunset

This one of the more special cups in my collection as it belonged to my Nanna – and it’s also a Shelley! When all the cupboards were being emptied and stuff divided up after she passed away, my aunt found these ‘weird black and white cups’ in the back of a cupboard. The instant I saw them I exclaimed “Shelley!!!!” and well, they ended up with me! Shelley is one of the top brands of English China so I was super excited to have these rather unusual cups in my collection.

This design dates from 1925-1940 and has the distinctively Shelley Queen Anne shape. It looks fancy but it’s really hard to drink from as you have to hold the cup at an angle so that you can drink from one of the longer sides.

I really need to sketch this cup more! I love it!

Getting closer to the end of this series with every teacup I sketch. Here is the full collection of sketches.


  • Jane Varley says:

    Wow, Liz, these are just lovely. I’ve just had a browse through your collection of teacup sketches. Like very much the way you “lose” part of the saucer and the rim of the cup is then not lost in the design. How many more to sketch? Silly question. You will, of course, always be adding more to your collection!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jane – I’m not sure exactly but less than 55. Some of them are not fine china so the exact number is a little vague.
      And yes! the collection might grow… but I want to finish it in the next week or so, so that I can get back to drinking out of any cup!

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