There are few examples of such whimsy in finely crafted china as in Wedgwood's Fairyland Lustre line. The famed British porcelain firm has a long legacy of creating delicate wares adorned with neoclassical motifs and meticulously crafted replicas of artifacts from antiquity. While these pieces have historically been the most popular and well-known designs offered by the firm, some of the rarest and most unusual Wedgwood pieces were those designed by the visionary Daisy Makeig-Jones for her Fairyland Lustre collection.
Bursting with mythical creatures, vibrant colors, and intricate gilding, this series continues to mesmerize all those who get a chance to admire it in person. The works draw their influences from fairy tales, incorporating ghosts, fairies, elves and other fabled figures into their rich and ornate designs. When viewing these magical pieces, it is of little surprise that the woman who designed the line has an interesting story herself.
Born in 1881 in a small mining village in England, Susannah Margaretta 'Daisy' Makeig-Jones showed artistic talent from a young age. Shortly after studying at the Torquay School of Art, Makeig-Jones was introduced to Cecil Wedgwood, and was almost immediately hired as an apprentice painter at the Wedgwood firm in 1909.
Makeig-Jones thrived in the factory environment, despite concern that the daughter of a doctor might be unable to adapt to a busy working lifestyle. By 1911, she was designing her own tableware, and in 1913, she began to design her own patterns. It was highly unusual for someone to rise up in the ranks of the Wedgwood company, which was known for bringing in high-level outside designers, and it was even more unusual for a woman. However, in 1914 Makeig-Jones was given her own studio, and the following year she introduced her own line, Fairyland Lustre.
During these early years just before the First World War, Europeans' appetites for luxurious dinnerware was still strong, though the classical designs of previous decades were falling out of style. The graceful, nature-inspired designs of the Art Nouveau movement was in vogue, and the creative, ethereal and sometimes bizarre designs of Fairyland Lustre were exactly what the public was looking for. Some have even gone so far to call the patterns escapist, suggesting that consumers enjoyed the whimsical pieces as a distraction from the war.
The Fairyland Lustre line enjoyed over a decade of exceptional popularity, but after the war the public's willingness to purchase luxury items grew increasingly slim. The American market for Wedgwood dried up at the start of the Great Depression, while the geometric styles of the Art Deco movement were emerging as the newest fashion.
In 1929, the line was discontinued, beginning a downward spiral for Miss Daisy. There are quite a few stories about her exit from the firm, but one thing is clear: Daisy was a visionary and she did not want to let others stop her from having full control over her craft. Her erratic decision-making and behavior eventually became too difficult for the firm to manage, and she was forced to retire in 1931. Despite her stormy exit, her legacy at Wedgwood is one of creativity and innovation.
No one has since made such a lasting impression in the ceramic or porcelain arts. Given its short production period, there were relatively few Fairyland Lustre pieces created, and even fewer that remain in great condition today. The pieces that still exist today are wondrous works of art that collectors worldwide search intently for, as they very rarely come to market.
We would love for you to stop by and see the curious little imps that march across Daisy Makeig-Jones’ various vases, plates, and bowls in our collection of Fairyland Lustre. Entrancing and highly unique, these pieces are regular favorites in the gallery and never last long when we get them in the store.