History of Porcelain
Porcelain, pronounced POUR suh lihn, is a type of ceramics highly valued for its beauty and strength. It is often called china, or chinaware, because it was first made in China. Porcelain is characterized by whiteness, a delicate appearance, and translucence (ability to let light through). Because it is the hardest ceramic product, porcelain is used for electrical insulators and laboratory equipment. However, porcelain is known primarily as a material for high-quality vases and tableware, as well as for figurines and other decorative objects. The type of porcelain that is used for such purposes produces a bell-like ring when struck.
Kinds of porcelain
There are three main kinds of porcelain: (1) hard-paste porcelain, (2) soft-paste porcelain, and (3) bone china. The differences between these types of porcelain are based on the material from which they are made. This material is called the body or paste.Hard-paste porcelain, which is sometimes called true porcelain or natural porcelain, has always been the model and ideal of porcelain makers. It is the type of porcelain first developed by the Chinese from kaolin and petuntse. Hard-paste porcelain resists melting far better than other kinds of porcelain. For this reason, it can be fired at higher temperatures. These hot temperatures cause the body and the glaze to become one. When hard-paste porcelain is broken, it is impossible to distinguish the body from the glaze.
Decorating porcelain
A piece of porcelain is shaped on a potter's wheel or in a mold. After this stage, the porcelain worker may decorate it by (1) surface modifications, (2) painting, or (3) transfer printing.Surface modifications are achieved by incising (carving), perforating (poking holes), and embossing (applying raised designs). A well-known method of embossing porcelain is to apply a mixture of water and clay, called slip, to the item with a brush. Relief designs (three-dimensional effects) are usually molded separately and then attached to the porcelain.