Artisans have always been fascinated with the possibility of making wares that look like something they are not. The whole point of lustre techniques is to give a ceramic surface a light-catching metallic appearance.
Iranian potters fleeing a Mogul invasion brought lustre decoration of pottery to Spain around 1300. This Moorish pottery flourished for some 500 years, providing a model for British industrial revolution potters to emulate, in a very different style, in the late 18th century.
In English lustreware a thin metallic film, consisting of a powdered metal dissolved in acid, is applied over a previously glazed surface. The principal types are:
While most often found on pottery bodies - the classic form is the lustre decorated jug - lustre was also employed on bone china teawares of the early to mid nineteenth century. As the popularity of lustre spread, production spread to multiple potting centers in England, Scotland and Wales and continued throughout the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth.
For more information, we recommend any of the writings of the excellent British scholar, Michael Gibson.