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Porcelain product - A History of Pottery
A History of Pottery
The production of pottery is one of the most ancient arts. The oldest known body of pottery dates from the Jomon period (from about 10,500 to 400 BC) in Japan; and even the earliest Jomon ceramics exhibit a unique sophistication of technique and design. Excavations in the Near East have revealed that primitive fired-clay vessels were made there more than 8,000 years ago. Potters were working in Iran by about 5500 BC, and earthenware was probably being produced even earlier on the Iranian high plateau. Chinese potters had developed characteristic techniques by about 5000 BC. In the New World many pre-Columbian American cultures developed highly artistic pottery traditions. After general sections on basic pottery types and decorating techniques this article focuses on the development of Western pottery since the beginning of the Renaissance. For detailed treatment of ancient Western and non-Western pottery, see Chinese art and architecture; Egypt, ancient; Greek art; Islamic art and architecture; Japanese art and architecture; Korean art; Mesopotamia; Minoan art; Persian art and architecture; pre-Columbian art and architecture.
Ceramics in Manufacturing
Materials made of clay are among the most ancient manufactured articles and have played a vital role in human civilization. Although clay, as a ceramic material, is still widely used, modern ceramics include a wide range of nonorganic, nonmetallic materials whose manufacture requires heating at high temperatures. Important ceramics products include brick and tile, clay pipe, refractory brick, pottery and porcelain articles and enamels, ferrites in computer memories, barium titanate and alumina in electronics, uranium dioxide as nuclear fuel, and garnets in lasers. Glass and cement are also major ceramic materials. The raw materials used to make ceramics are inexpensive and widely available, and include clay, feldspar, quartz sand, iron oxides, and alumina. Clay is made up of fine, platelike crystals of hydrated aluminosilicates. The crystals are usually from about 1 to 10 microns (.001 to .010 mm) in their longest dimension. A thin film of water binds the crystals together and with their platelike shape gives the clay its easy working properties. The platelike form of clay crystals reflects the molecular layer structure of the silicon-oxygen and aluminum-oxygen groups in the clay compounds.
Dust Press Method: Most American manufacturers use the press method for forming tile. Powdered raw materials are mixed with water or other binding liquids, and are formed by a hydraulic press. The clay is usually pressed damp, with about 10 percent water, into dies or molds under moderate pressures. Ceramics made of purified powders such as alumina and ferrites are pressed dry at higher pressure with an organic binder (for example, 1 percent polyvinyl alcohol). In isostatic pressing, the powder is held in a rubber mold, and the pressure is applied with a fluid such as glycerine giving uniform pressure throughout the sample, with less warping and fewer defects. Samples in bar, rod, or tube form can be extruded through a die. The fired bisque, or clay body can absorb water, and is generally regarded as a "soft" tile, another common name of this type of tile is whiteware. Hand Made or Slip casting: In slip casting, a suspension of ceramic powder, usually in water, is poured into a mold made of plaster of paris. Water is absorbed by the mold, and a hard lining on the mold wall is built up; excess liquid is poured out of the mold. Using slip casting, a number of complex shapes can be made economically, since the cost of the molds is low. These tiles are also considered soft. After forming, the ceramic ware must be carefully heated for a few hours at about 100 degrees-200 degrees C (about 200 degrees-400 degrees F) to remove excess water or binder. The rate of drying must be carefully controlled so that warping and defects do not form as the sample shrinks. After drying, the article is fired at a high temperature (800 degrees-2000 degrees C/1500 degrees-3500 degrees F) to sinter or bind together the individual crystals of the ceramic powder into a solid, coherent mass. The higher the firing temperature, the more dense and less porous the material becomes. A wide range of properties in ceramics is possible with different firing temperatures and times.
Oriental porcelain. The Chinese probably made the first true porcelain during the Tang dynasty (618-907). The techniques for combining the proper ingredients and firing the mixture at extremely high temperatures gradually developed out of the manufacture of stoneware. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), Chinese emperors started royal factories to produce porcelain for their palaces. Since the 1300's, most Chinese porcelain has been made in the city of Jingdezhen. For centuries, the Chinese made the world's finest porcelain. Collectors regard many porcelain bowls and vases produced during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing dynasty (1644-1912) as artistic treasures. Porcelain makers perfected a famous blue and white underglazed procelain during the Ming period. Painting over the glaze with enamel colors also became a common decorating technique at this time. During the Qing period, the Chinese developed a great variety of patterns and colors and exported porcelain objects to Europe in increasing numbers. By the 1100's, the secret of making porcelain had spread to Korea and to Japan in the 1500's. Workers in these countries also created beautiful porcelain objects. A Japanese porcelain called Kakiemon was first produced during the 1600's. It features simple designs on a white background. Another well-known Japanese porcelain called Imari ware, or Arita, is famous for its dense decorations in deep blue and red. European porcelain. As early as the 1100's, traders brought Chinese porcelain to Europe, where it became greatly admired. However, it was so rare and expensive that only wealthy people could afford it. As trade with the Orient grew during the 1600's, porcelain became popular with the general public. The custom of drinking tea, coffee, and chocolate became widespread and created a huge demand for porcelain cups and saucers. European manufacturers responded by trying to make hard-paste porcelain themselves, but for a long time they failed to discover the secret. Nevertheless, some of their experiments resulted in beautiful soft-paste porcelain. The first European soft-paste porcelain was produced in Florence, Italy, about 1575. By the 1700's, porcelain manufactured in many parts of Europe was starting to compete with Chinese porcelain. France, Germany, Italy, and England became the major centers for European porcelain production. French porcelain. France became famous during the 1700's as the leading producer of soft-paste porcelain. The first factories were established at Rouen, St. Cloud, Lille, and Chantilly. The most celebrated type of soft-paste porcelain was first produced at Vincennes in 1738. In 1756, the factory was moved to the town of Sevres. Its soft-paste porcelain became known as Sevres. The earliest Sevres had graceful shapes and soft colors. Sevres pieces produced from 1750 to 1770 were decorated with brilliant colors and heavy gilding. Many of these pieces had richly colored backgrounds and white panels painted with birds, flowers, landscapes, or people. Sevres is also noted for its fine figurines of biscuit (unglazed porcelain). Beginning in 1771, a hard-paste porcelain industry developed near Limoges, where kaolin deposits had been discovered. By the 1800's, Limoges had become one of the largest porcelain centers in Europe. An American named David Haviland opened a porcelain factory at Limoges in 1842 to make tableware for the American market. Haviland porcelain features soft colors that blend together and small floral patterns. German porcelain. A German chemist named Johann Friedrich Bottger discovered the secret of making hard-paste porcelain in 1708 or 1709. This discovery led to the establishment of a porcelain factory in Meissen in 1710. Meissen porcelain is sometimes called Dresden because Bottger first worked near the city. For nearly a century, it surpassed in quality all other hard-paste porcelain made in Europe. The great success of Meissen porcelain can be partly attributed to the fine artists who decorated it. They painted the wares with an amazing variety of colors and designs. Johann Horoldt (or Herold), who became chief painter in 1720, produced beautiful Chinese and Japanese as well as European designs. Johann Kandler, who worked from about 1730 to 1770, is famous for his exquisite figures of animals and people. Political disorder in Germany and competition from Sevres porcelain drove the Meissen factory into decline during the late 1700's. It continued to operate but did not make wares of the same artistic quality. English porcelain. England is well known as the center for the production of bone china. Before the invention of bone china, the English manufactured fine soft-paste porcelain at Chelsea, Bow, and Derby. Most of this English porcelain was styled after Oriental and Continental designs. Worcester porcelain, first produced in 1751, is one of the oldest and best English porcelains. During its early years, the Worcester factory produced soft-paste porcelain, much of it decorated with Chinese designs in blue underglaze. Since the 1760's, it has manufactured bone china in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Josiah Spode developed a bone china paste that became the standard English paste in 1800. Spode china featured a large number of designs but was especially noted for its exotic birds. Most of the famous English Wedgwood ware is not porcelain at all, but earthenware or stoneware. Nevertheless, its classical Greek figures and reliefs became enormously popular and had a great influence on porcelain designs throughout Europe. Modern porcelain. Technical advances enabled the porcelain industry to produce porcelain in large quantities. Today, extensive porcelain making is carried out in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Some notable examples of fine contemporary porcelain are American Lenox, German Rosenthal, and Japanese Noritake. Contributor: William C. Gates, Jr., M.A., Curator and Historian, Ohio Historical Society.
The most common ceramic articles of pottery, porcelain, brick, and pipe form complex mixtures of several different solid phases after firing. Traditional whitewares and porcelains contain at least three starting materials: clay, feldspar, and silica sand. When a mixture of these materials is heated at high temperatures (above 1200 degrees C/2200 degrees F), the feldspar (potassium-sodium aluminosilicate) melts and coats the clay and sand crystals. As firing proceeds, tightly bound water in the clay structure is removed, and fine, needlelike crystals of an aluminosilicate called mullite are formed from the clay. The grains of silica sand are partly dissolved in the viscous liquid feldspar. In the cooled structure there is a glassy phase from the liquid feldspar that binds together the sand grains and mullite crystals. This glassy phase may also give the ware a smooth, polished surface. Firing at an intermediate temperature (about 1100 degrees C/2000 degrees F) produces stoneware, a heavy, opaque ceramic, nonporous and glazed. At lower firing temperatures (less than 1000 degrees C/1832 degrees F), a more porous ware with a rough surface results and is usually called earthenware. To make fine, translucent porcelain requires a higher firing temperature (up to 1400 degrees C/2500 degrees F) so that more glass is formed.
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