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Today we are looking at Willow Patterns.


Look at these examples of willow pattern. Which country do you think this design originates from? Why? Can you see an elements of the design that are the same across all of the examples? What colours are used?

The story in the design originates from China but the pattern is actually British and was designed by a man called Thomas Minton at the end of the 18th century. Minton designed a range of ‘chinoiserie’ pottery (decorated in the suppose style of the Far East but actually conceived and created in the UK), which was seen as exotic and desirable at the time.


Although he based the design on artwork he had seen in China, the story it depicts is not a traditionally Chinese tale, but actually written by Minton himself.


Watch the story.

The Willow Pattern Story

A beautiful princess an evil suitor, and the hapless palace guard - all feature in this charming re-telling of the classic story, depicted on Willow pattern ...

The Story of the Willow Plate

I remember my mother's blue willow china. I grew up taking my meals from, and watching that familiar, yet mysterious oriental scene of the lake, the three fi...

There are many versions of the design, but they all feature the key elements of the story:

  • The bridge
  • The garden fence
  • The central pair of birds
  • The particular details of the pavilions and the surrounding trees

Look back at the examples, can you spot these features?


You are going to create your own design based on a story.


Start by choosing a story. As an example, I’m going the use ‘The Three Little Pigs’.


Now select the three key parts of  the story that you have chosen.

In ‘The Three Little Pigs’ it might be,

  1. The wolf
  2. The last house
  3. The surviving pigs


Sketch these three elements. You might want to sketch these three elements multiple times in different ways until you are happy with them.

Once you are happy with your sketches, start to think about how you will arrange them on your plate. You can either use the plate template provided or the back of a paper plate if you have one.


Sketch your design onto the plate in pencil. When you are happy with them, sketch a decorative, geometric border onto your plate again with a pencil. Make sure that all of the shapes that you use in your border are all the same size. Also check that there are no big empty spaces in your design.

Now add colour to your design, remember, you will only need to use blue. Either use a variety of blue pencil crayons, a blue ink pen or a blue felt tip. If you have used ink, you can carefully use a brush and water the create areas of a lighter blue. Once the water is completely dry, you can add some darker, crisper lines with your pen.

Send your work to us in your daily email.