Fine Bone China - Manufacturing Process

All of the ware supplied by Duchess China Ltd is 100% made and decorated in the UK. Established in 1888 Duchess China Ltd manufactures Fine Bone China Tableware in Stoke-on-Trent (‘The Potteries’) and is one of the last few remaining tableware manufacturers in the UK. We work closely with a number of blue chip retailers who still value the quality that come with being ‘Made in England’.


Duchess China manufactures a wide tableware range, from cups and saucers, to Teapots, Soup Tureens and vegetable dishes.

Fine Bone China is categorized as having more than 45% animal bone within the formulation, it is this constituent that give it its strength and translucent qualities when combined with Cornish China Clay and Feldspars.


A fine bone china product will go through over 15 different manufacturing processes and has three ceramic firings, and four if it is finished with gold decoration. This excludes the initial design and modelling of the shape, design fitting and reproduction of the ‘Lithographs’ to be applied to the mugs.


Ceramic manufacturing is still a labour intensive process and accounts for over half the manufacturing cost of the product,  you are not only getting a great looking product but can be assured that you are supporting British jobs.


The manufacturing process still has its roots firmly planted in a traditional, and environmentally sustainable process. The elegant exclusive designs date back over 50 years, with modern screen printed Lithographs with fantastic detail which are still applied by hand. Our highly skilled workforce with over 300 years experience between them, enable our final product to retain outstanding durability and colour vibrancy even when used in dishwashers and microwaves, a product we should.


Duchess China is committed to an environmental and sustainable manufacturing process,  for handling waste and rejected products.


Manufacturing Process


  1. Make Mould
  2. Prepare Slip
  3. Cast Handle
  4. Fettle Handle
  5. Form Mug
  6. Attach Handle
  7. Sponge Mug
  8. Place Biscuit Fire – Cups complete with handles undergo first firing process, Temp 1240°C, It is done in order to vitrify the clay and develop strength and translucency. A very slow temperature rise is critical. During the beginning of the bisque firing, the last of the atmospheric water is driven out of the clay. If heated too quickly, the water will turn into steam while inside the clay body, causing the clay to burst.
  9. Bisque Selection – Highly trained selectors check each mug for any faults, specs, splits and handle faults which may have occurred in the initial casting process
  10. Vibro -
  11. Glaze Mug – each mug is glazed by hand by dipping into a lead free glaze solution.
  12. Place Glost Fire – Once the mugs are dry they can be loaded into the Kiln for the second firing, know as Glost Firing, Temp 1100°C . The mugs must not be allowed to touch or they will weld together. It is during this firing the mug develops a tough high gloss finish.
  13. Select for best Quality – Selectors once again check each mug for faults which may have occurred during the second firing, in particular any missed glaze.
  14. Lithograph – this highly skilled part of the manufacturing process remains unchanged over the years, the glazed mug is dampened and the lithograph is placed on the mug and smoothed out with a sponge. This is then placed in a transit crate to head off to the Kilns.
  15. Place Decorating Fire – Cups now undergo a third and final firing, Temp 820°C. This allows the design to meld with the glaze and become truly part of the finished product.
  16. Select finished best quality – The final check for each of our mugs is to check for anything which may have occurred during the final fire, in particular any lithograph which may have slipped or become misplaced.
  17.  Pack to specification
  18. Dispatch





Check out some short videos here and see for yourself

Glazing - Dipping and Spraying


Teapot Modelling