In order to revive the fading art of hand-painted qīng-huā, or blue-and-white underglaze ceramics, Mona Tang and Chris Ng have turned to an unlikely saviour: heroes and villains of pop culture.
The pair is crowdfunding a series of five bone china plates on Kickstarter, each with a different hero or villain from pop culture, in a series called "Blue and White Porcelain -- Vice and Virtue". But, because the world is rarely as simply divided as good and evil, the five characters are, arguably, morally ambiguous.
"The way we see things in the world are not always clearly black or white. For example you may see 'good' people do bad things and 'bad' people do good things," they wrote.
"We thought this was an interesting concept and chose to use it as inspiration for our idea which we ended up naming 'Vice and Virtue'. Through this idea we selected 5 different pop culture characters which we felt matched this analogy."
The characters themselves are rendered in traditional style, and are lovely to look at. They are also rather charmingly renamed. Dragon Ball's Goku becomes Prince Ape, Super Mario's Bowser becomes Black Tortoise King, Godzilla becomes Pacific Dragon, Pokemon's Charizard becomes Arrogant Fire Dragon and Darth Vader becomes Dark Samurai.
The 10-inch-diameter plates will be available in two different types. The regular plates will be created with decals on bone china, and are offered as a reward for a minimum CAD$35 pledge (around $25, AU$35 or £20). The higher-end plates will be individually hand-painted by Ng on kaolin china, then coated with a glaze before firing to protect the image. These premium plates are being offered as a reward for a minimum pledge of CAD$125 (around $95, AU$125 or £65).
"Most of the blue and white porcelain in market usually use Ceramic Decals to colour the porcelain. Our hand paint blue and white underglaze white porcelain plates are hand painted individually. Each plates are painted by painter one by one just like painting a picture on plate," Tang said in an email.
"The painter can't make any mistakes while they using ink brush to colour. Controlling the ink brush drawing fast or slow, hard or soft is very difficult. This is the most traditional way to colour porcelain in China. Although this is impossible to make all plates' patterns exactly the same, the painter has to make sure each plate's pattern and colour quality are consistent."
You can learn more and pledge your support at the Blue and White Porcelain -- Vice and Virtue Kickstarter page.