Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Random Objects | Lithophane tea cups
I had coffee with my friend Linda yesterday and she commented on the photographs of the hand painted signs that I posted here on Monday. She too has stopped many times in Greenwood on her way to Vancouver and admired the old store signage. She told me a story about a small treasure she had found in Greenwood a few years ago. There are a couple of junk stores in Greenwood and like any good junk collector she can't drive past without stopping for a quick visit. This one time she purchased a sweet little Japanese tea cup, got back in her car and headed off to the coast. It wasn't until she had got home and unwrapped her tea cup that she realized that she had found something special - a lithophane!

See the beautiful image of the woman in the bottom of the cup? It's only visible when you hold the cup up to the light!

Linda did some research and found that these cups are quite rare but you can find them now and then on Ebay. The image on the base of the cups is made by embedding a 3 dimensional porcelain carving into the smooth, fine finished porcelain cup. You can't tell the image is there at all until you hold the cup to the light. Though you might like to see this today - I had never even heard of a Lithophane until now - had you? Now I am going to hold every tea cup up to the light to see if there's something hiding in there.


Julie said...

Wow - that's really interesting. I'd never heard of Lithophane either. Thanks for sharing!

Brittany Noel said...

This has such a beautiful effect! I love the little secret hiding in the bottom of the cup. I'll keep my eyes out!

Carey@Lasso'd Moon Designs said...

Those are so cool. I've seen lithophane nightlights before, but not anything like this!

Morfydd said...

My grandmother in Tacoma had one cup like that. It was demitasse-sized, with a standard Western pattern (as opposed to the applied dragon I think I see on yours), but the lady looked almost identical to yours. I think it was a little blurrier, and the bottom of the cup felt bumpy, so it doesn't sound as refined as yours.

As a little girl, I *had* to see the hidden lady every time we visited - once a week!

john said...

I just stumbled on your tea cup litho story, Very nice.
I machine lithophanes from photo's.
unlike the embedded ones as shown, these tend to have quite a 3d look to them when held to the light.
thank you

Anonymous said...

I use to have an antique/vintage shop in San Rafael, CA, and one of the items i do still think about and wished I hadn't sold are the set of tea cups and sausers with the japanese women that show up at your last sip!
Thanks for posting these.
Mill Valley CA

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