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Ceramics (Porcelain) and Glass

Ceramics (Porcelain)

Ceramics is a 19th Century term covering both porcelain and all types of pottery. Pottery probably had no single origin.
It was made in late Ice Age Moravia, in Mesolithic times and in the upper Palaeolithic Kenya Capria culture in Africa. The imitation of vessels made in other materials has always been the dominant factor in pottery design.

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The earliest method of shaping pottery was by pressing the thumb into a lump of clay, sometimes called pinch-pottery. The resulting uneven was usually smoothed by beating with a bat. Moulding was not extensively used until the modern times although some Greek pottery was moulded. Wheel throwing was the only new pottery process invented before modern industrial methods were applied to pottery manufacture. Wheel throwing is also an ancient process which appears to have been known before 3000 B.C. in Mesopotamia.
 
In the history of European pottery the red and black wares of Greece and Rome are unique in being an indigenous Mediterranean invention. All other developments derived directly or indirectly from the East from Chinese pottery or by way of Islamic pottery. They did not reach Europe in significant quantities until the 17th Century with the founding of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1609 and the British East India Company in 1631. Before this the development of pottery in Europe can be traced largely from the spread of Islamic tin glaze techniques, first to Spain where the Hispano-Moresque wares were the best made in 15th Century Europe, then to Italy where Maiolica was produced and from Italy to the North.
 
From the 16th Century, however, attention was increasingly given to attempts to produce porcelain. Soft-paste porcelain was produced at the Medici Porcelain Factory before the end of the 16th Century, but no hard-paste porcelain was made until the early 18th Century when the Meissen factory began production.
 
There are two main types of porcelain, soft-paste and hard-paste. Hard-paste or true porcelain is made from Kaolin and chinastone; soft-paste is an imitation of true porcelain invented as a substiture before the secret of true porcelain had been discovered.
 
Hard-paste was first made in China in the 7th or 8th Century and in Europe in 1709 at Meissen whence the process was diffused throughout Europe. Soft-paste was first produced at the Medici factory in Florence 1575-1587, then at Rouan 1673 and on a larger scale at Saint Cloud from 1675 and thereafter at many European factories notably Bow, Capodimonte, Chelsea, Derby, Mennecy, Vincennes and Worcester, until the end of the 18th Century, very rarely later.

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Glass

For many centuries, glass has been an important material to developing societies. It is a material which satisfies both functional and aesthetic needs.
Glass making goes back some 3500 years. It appears to have been invented in the Eastern Mediterranean, probably Egypt. The discovery of the process of glass-blowing early in C1 B.C. in Syria soon transformed it into one of the most popular media for useful and decorative domestic objects. Nearly all the basic methods of decorating blown glass by colouring or cutting were developed before the C4 A.D. The art of enamelling on glass was brought to the unsurpassed pitch of excellence under Islamic rule in the 13th Century and 14th Century seen in the large Mosque Lamps.
 
The technique of making glass vessels was introduced into Italy, Gaul and the Rhineland under Roman Imperial rule and survived the fall of the Empire In the 14th Century the Venetian glasshouses began to emerge and by the 15th Century were producing enamelled coloured vessels of very high quality. It was here that the art of making clear crystal glass was discovered in the early 16th Century and immediately raised the status of the glass vessel.
 
It was in Germany that the process of engraving on glass was developed, though it was in the Netherlands that the art of engraving was brought to one of it highest points. In England a type of lead-glass was discovered by G Ravenscroft circa 1675 and became very popular and provided an excellent medium for delicately formed wine glasses, jelly-glasses, candlesticks etc. A new method of decorating glass with sliced facets, which caught light, was developed in England in the mid 18th Century. Similar glass was also made in Ireland at Cork, Waterford and elsewhere. The process of making pressed glass by pouting molten metal in a mould was introduced in 1825 in the U.S.
 
The 19th Century mechanization of the glass industry and the cheapening of the product were accompanied by the revival of manual techniques for the making and decoration of very expensive ornamental pieces.
 
At Stourbridge various artists revived the technique of carving cased glass, inspired by Romano-Syrian work. Slightly later E Galle and Daum in France and L C Tiffany in the US developed cased glass and other techniques for the production of vessels, electric-light fittings etc. in the Art Nouveau style. Rene Lalique was also a leading French Art Nouveau glass maker; first scent bottles, then vases, clocks, light-fixtures, statuettes, screens and panels for furniture - of clear crystal glass engraved with frosted patterns.
 
Ornamental glass remains popular and has attracted the attention of notable contemporary designers and collectors worldwide.

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