Monday, October 13

WHY IN DESIGN: The Long History of Chinese Porcelain

photo via Metmuseum.org
The Making of Chinese Porcelain 
is an Ancient Art Form
That Has Been Refined For Centuries
Chinese porcelain has a rich heritage dating back to 700 AD.  Other countries started making porcelain years later, with Japan in the 16th century, then the European countries a century after that.  However, it is widely accepted that Chinese porcelain is the finest made in the world.   The original porcelain was made with a white clay called Kaolin then combined with other clay to create a fine white porcelain.  During the Tang Dynasty much porcelain was created and exported to the Islamic world.  Then during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) the technique of creating the material was vastly improved when artisans combined the clay with quartz and feldspar allowing for a very thin porcelain with an almost transparent quality, lending itself well to being painted in great detail. The Song kilns produced a variety of products from tableware to boxes, ink slabs and headrests.  The artisans would paint, carve, stamp or even mold the porcelain to create works of art. 
How is porcelain made?
The base is baked first in a kiln at high heat, and the outside coated with vitreous glaze.   This under glaze is applied before the baking process and then a finishing glaze (over glaze) is applied, and there is another baking process to set the final glaze. The end result is an extremely hard material with low water absorption and a supreme glaze. 

During the Cultural Revolution in China there began a mass production of inexpensive products in factories all over Jingdezhen where function over aesthetics became the focal point in order to produce massive amount of products with demand coming from all over the world.  At this time, money became the focal point and the quality of the porcelain products dissipated.  
Spin Ceramics in Soho

I stopped into Spin Ceramics in Soho recently, and I am smitten.  The company has revolutionized Chinese porcelain and stoneware design by combining the old world practices of Chinese porcelain with modern perspectives by breathing new life into this ancient practice.  They make porcelain and stoneware utilizing the talents of nine designers in Jingdezhen and selling in shops in Shanghai, Changsha, Singapore, including their flagship store here in New York City.  Check out these creative designs, hand crafted and gorgeous.  I plan to use four of these leaves in the kitchen design for Art of the Table project at Bilotta Kitchen in New York City on October 23.  Since I'm channeling the fall season these sculptural leaves  will work well with my design. 
I hope you will stop by their shop at 13 Crosby Street in Soho to see the latest product offerings. See below some of their new arrivals... 
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara

information sources for this story:
infoniac

Asianart.org
.easia.columbia.edu

artsCulturalChina.com