Ceramic art is the art of making artistic items from ceramic materials (including clay), such as pottery, tile, figurines, and tableware. Some ceramic products are regarded as fine art, while others are regarded as decorative, industrial or applied art objects, or as artifacts in archaeology. They may be made by one individual or in a factory where a group of people design, make and decorate the ware. Decorative ceramics are sometimes called "art pottery". In modern ceramic engineering usage, "ceramics" is the art and science of making objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials by the action of heat. It excludes glass and mosaic made from glass tesserae. Ceramic art is one of the arts, particularly one of the visual arts, and of those, it is one of the plastic arts.
- 1 History
- 2 Use of clay in art
- 3 Ceramic
- 4 Ceramic art items
- 5 Ceramics museums and museum collections
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
There is a long history of ceramic art in almost all developed cultures, and often ceramic objects are all the artistic evidence left from vanished cultures, like that of the Nok in Africa over 2,000 years ago. Cultures especially noted for ceramics include the Chinese, Cretan, Greek, Persian, Mayan, Japanese, and Korean cultures, as well as the modern Western cultures.
The earliest pots were made by what is known as the "coiling" method, which worked the clay into a long string that wound to form a shape that later made smooth walls. The potter's wheel was probably invented in Mesopotamia by the 4th millennium BC, but spread across nearly all Eurasia and much of Africa, though it remained unknown in the New World until the arrival of Europeans. Decoration of the clay by incising and painting is found very widely, and was initially geometric, but often included figurative designs from very early on.
So important is pottery to the archaeology of prehistoric cultures that many are known by names taken from their distinctive, and often very fine, pottery, such as the Linear Pottery culture, Beaker culture, Globular Amphora culture, Corded Ware culture and Funnelbeaker culture, to take examples only from Neolithic Europe (approximately 7000-1800 BCE).
Although pottery figurines are found from earlier periods in Europe, the oldest pottery vessels come from East Asia, with finds in China and Japan, then still linked by a land bridge, and some in what is now the Russian Far East, providing several from between 20,000 and 10,000 BCE, although the vessels were simple utilitarian objects. Xianrendong Cave in Jiangxi province contained pottery fragments that date back to 20,000 years ago.
Some experts believe the first true porcelain was made in the province of Zhejiang in China during the Eastern Han period. Shards recovered from archaeological Eastern Han kiln sites estimated firing temperature ranged from 1,260 to 1,300 °C (2,300 to 2,370 °F). As far back as 1000 BC, the so-called "porcelaneous wares" or "proto-porcelain wares" were made using at least some kaolin fired at high temperatures. The dividing line between the two and true porcelain wares is not a clear one. Archaeological finds have pushed the dates to as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).
Until the 16th century, small quantities of expensive Chinese porcelain were imported into Europe. From the 16th century onwards attempts were made to imitate it in Europe, including soft-paste and the Medici porcelain made in Florence. None was successful until a recipe for hard-paste porcelain was devised at the Meissen factory in Dresden in 1710. Within a few years, porcelain factories sprung up at Nymphenburg in Bavaria (1754) and Capodimonte in Naples (1743) and many other places, often financed by a local ruler.
Use of clay in art
Clays exhibit plasticity when mixed with water in certain proportions. When dry, clay becomes firm and when fired in a kiln, permanent physical and chemical changes occur. These changes convert the clay into a ceramic material. Because of these properties, clay is used for making pottery, both utilitarian and decorative, and construction products, such as bricks, wall and floor tiles. Different types of clay, when used with different minerals and firing conditions, are used to produce earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain.
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid comprising metal, nonmetal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. The crystallinity of ceramic materials ranges from highly oriented to semi-crystalline, and often completely amorphous (e.g., glasses). Varying crystallinity and electron consumption in the ionic and covalent bonds cause most ceramic materials to be good thermal and electrical insulators and extensively researched in ceramic engineering. Nevertheless, with such a large range of possible options for the composition/structure of a ceramic (e.g. nearly all of the elements, nearly all types of bonding, and all levels of crystallinity), the breadth of the subject is vast, and identifiable attributes (e.g. hardness, toughness, electrical conductivity, etc.) are hard to specify for the group as a whole. However, generalities such as high melting temperature, high hardness, poor conductivity, high moduli of elasticity, chemical resistance and low ductility are the norm, with known exceptions to each of these rules (e.g. piezoelectric ceramics, glass transition temperature, superconductive ceramics, etc.). Many composites, such as fiberglass and carbon fiber, while containing ceramic materials, are not considered to be part of the ceramic family.
Ceramic materials used in art include earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, and bone china.
Earthenware is pottery that has not been fired to vitrification and is thus permeable to water. Many types of pottery have been made from it from the earliest times, and until the 18th century it was the most common type of pottery outside the far East. Earthenware is often made from clay, quartz and feldspar.
Terracotta, a type of earthenware, is a clay-based unglazed or glazed ceramic, where the fired body is porous. Its uses include vessels (notably flower pots), water and waste water pipes, bricks, and surface embellishment in building construction. Terracotta has been a common medium for ceramic art (see below).
Stoneware is a vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic made primarily from stoneware clay or non-refractory fire clay. Stoneware is fired at high temperatures. Vitrified or not, it is nonporous; it may or may not be glazed.
One widely-recognised definition is from the Combined Nomenclature of the European Communities, a European industry standard. It states:
- "Stoneware, which, though dense, impermeable and hard enough to resist scratching by a steel point, differs from porcelain because it is more opaque, and normally only partially vitrified. It may be vitreous or semi-vitreous. It is usually coloured grey or brownish because of impurities in the clay used for its manufacture, and is normally glazed."
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating materials, generally including kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C (2,200 and 2,600 °F). The toughness, strength and translucence of porcelain, relative to other types of pottery, arises mainly from vitrification and the formation of the mineral mullite within the body at these high temperatures.
Porcelain derives its present name from the old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell. Porcelain can informally be referred to as "china" or "fine china" in some English-speaking countries, as China was the birthplace of porcelain making. Properties associated with porcelain include low permeability and elasticity; considerable strength, hardness, toughness, whiteness, translucency and resonance; and a high resistance to chemical attack and thermal shock.
Porcelain has been described as being "completely vitrified, hard, impermeable (even before glazing), white or artificially coloured, translucent (except when of considerable thickness), and resonant." However, the term porcelain lacks a universal definition and has "been applied in a very unsystematic fashion to substances of diverse kinds which have only certain surface-qualities in common" 
Bone china is a type of soft-paste porcelain that is composed of bone ash, feldspathic material, and kaolin. It has been defined as ware with a translucent body containing a minimum of 30% of phosphate derived from animal bone and calculated calcium phosphate. Developed by English potter Josiah Spode, bone china is known for its high levels of whiteness and translucency, and very high mechanical strength and chip resistance. Its high strength allows it to be produced in thinner cross-sections than other types of porcelain. Like stoneware it is vitrified, but is translucent due to differing mineral properties.
From its initial development and up to the later part of the twentieth century, bone china was almost exclusively an English product, with production being effectively localised in Stoke-on-Trent. Most major English firms made or still make it, including Mintons, Coalport, Spode, Royal Crown Derby, Royal Doulton, Wedgwood and Worcester.
In the UK, references to "china" or "porcelain" can refer to bone china, and "English porcelain" has been used as a term for it, both in the UK and around the world.
Ceramic art items
Pottery is the ceramic material which makes up potterywares, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery (plural "potteries"). Pottery also refers to the art or craft of a potter or the manufacture of pottery. A dictionary definition is simply objects of fired clays.
The definition of pottery used by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products." Some archaeologists use a different understanding of this definition by excluding ceramic objects such as figurines which are made by similar processes and of similar materials but are not vessels.
Pottery is made by forming a clay body into objects of a required shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln which removes all the water from the clay, which induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing their strength and hardening and setting their shape. A clay body can be decorated before or after firing. Prior to some shaping processes, clay must be prepared. Kneading helps to ensure an even moisture content throughout the body. Air trapped within the clay body needs to be removed. This is called de-airing and can be accomplished by a machine called a vacuum pug or manually by wedging. Wedging can also help produce an even moisture content. Once a clay body has been kneaded and de-aired or wedged, it is shaped by a variety of techniques. After shaping it is dried and then fired.
Studio pottery is pottery made by amateur or professional artists or artisans working alone or in small groups, making unique items or short runs. Typically, all stages of manufacture are carried out by the artists themselves. Studio pottery includes functional wares such as tableware, cookware and non-functional wares such as sculpture. Studio potters can be referred to as ceramic artists, ceramists, ceramicists or as an artist who uses clay as a medium. Much studio pottery is tableware or cookware but an increasing number of studio potters produce non-functional or sculptural items. Some studio potters now prefer to call themselves ceramic artists, ceramists or simply artists. Studio pottery is represented by potters all over the world.
A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass, generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops. Alternatively, tile can sometimes refer to similar units made from lightweight materials such as perlite, wood, and mineral wool, typically used for wall and ceiling applications. In another sense, a "tile" is a construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters used in playing games (see tile-based game). The word is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of fired clay.
Tiles are often used to form wall and floor coverings, and can range from simple square tiles to complex mosaics. Tiles are most often made of ceramic, typically glazed for internal uses and unglazed for roofing, but other materials are also commonly used, such as glass, cork, concrete and other composite materials, and stone. Tiling stone is typically marble, onyx, granite or slate. Thinner tiles can be used on walls than on floors, which require more durable surfaces that will resist impacts.
A figurine (a diminutive form of the word figure) is a statuette that represents a human, deity, mythical creature, or animal. Figurines may be realistic or iconic, depending on the skill and intention of the creator. The earliest were made of stone or clay. In ancient Greece, many figurines were made from terracotta (see Greek terracotta figurines). Modern versions are made of ceramic, metal, glass, wood and plastic.
Figurines and miniatures are sometimes used in board games, such as chess, and tabletop role playing games. Old figurines have been used to discount some historical theories, such as the origins of chess.
Tableware is the dishes or dishware used for setting a table, serving food and dining. It includes cutlery, glassware, serving dishes and other useful items for practical as well as decorative purposes. Dishes, bowls and cups may be made of ceramic, while cutlery is typically made from metal, and glassware is often made from glass or other non-ceramic materials. The quality, nature, variety and number of objects varies according to culture, religion, number of diners, cuisine and occasion. For example, Middle Eastern, Indian or Polynesian food culture and cuisine sometimes limits tableware to serving dishes, using bread or leaves as individual plates. Special occasions are usually reflected in higher quality tableware.
"Dinnerware" is another term used to refer to tableware and "crockery" refers to ceramic dishes in everyday use as differentiated them from the fine porcelain and bone china produced by makers such as Sèvres in France, Meissen in Germany, Royal Copenhagen in Denmark, Royal Doulton in England, or Belleek Pottery in Ireland. Sets of dishes are referred to as a table service, dinner service or service set. Table settings or place settings are the dishes, cutlery and glassware used for formal and informal dining. In Ireland such items are normally referred to as delph, the word being an English language phonetic spelling of the word delft, the town from which so much delftware came. Silver service or butler service are methods for a butler or waiter to serve a meal.
Setting the table refers to arranging the tableware, including individual place settings for each diner at the table as well as decorating the table itself in a manner suitable for the occasion. Tableware and table decoration is typically more elaborate for special occasions. Unusual dining locations demand tableware be adapted.
In addition to being a material, "terracotta" also refers to items made out of this material. In archaeology and art history, "terracotta" is often used to describe objects such as statures, and figurines not made on a potter's wheel. A prime example is the Terracotta Army, a collection of man-sized terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse made many terracotta pieces, but possibly the most famous is The Abduction of Hippodameia depicting the Greek mythological scene of a centaur kidnapping Hippodameia on her wedding day. American architect Louis Sullivan is well known for his elaborate glazed terracotta ornamentation, designs that would have been impossible to execute in any other medium. Terracotta and tile were used extensively in the town buildings of Victorian Birmingham, England.
Ceramics museums and museum collections
A ceramics museum is a museum wholly or largely devoted to ceramics, normally ceramic artworks, whose collections may include glass and enamel as well, but will usually concentrate on pottery, including porcelain. Most national ceramics collections are in a more general museum covering all the arts, or just the decorative arts, but there are a number of specialized ceramics museums, some concentrating on the production of just one country, region or manufacturer. Others have international collections, which may concentrate on ceramics from Europe or East Asia, or have global coverage.
In Asian and Islamic countries ceramics are usually a strong feature of general and national museums. Also most specialist archaeological museums, in all countries, have large ceramics collections, as pottery is the commonest type of archaeological artifact. Most of these are broken shards however.
Outstanding major ceramics collections in general museums include The Palace Museum, Beijing, with 340,000 pieces, and the National Palace Museum in Taipei city, Taiwan (25,000 pieces); both are mostly derived from the Chinese Imperial collection, and are almost entirely of pieces from China. In London, the Victoria and Albert Museum (over 75,000 pieces, mostly after 1400 CE) and British Museum (mostly before 1400 CE) have very strong international collections. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Freer Gallery of Art in Washington DC (12,000, all East Asian) have perhaps the best of the many fine collections in the large city museums of the United States. The Corning Museum of Glass, in Corning, New York, has more than 45,000 glass objects.
- 'Oldest pottery' found in China
- Boaretto, E. et al. (2009). "Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and bone collagen associated with early pottery at Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan Province, China". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (24): 9537–9538. Bibcode:2009PNAS..106.9595B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0900539106.
- "Harvard, BU researchers find evidence of 20,000-year-old pottery". Boston.com.
- Stanglin, Douglas (2012-06-29). "Pottery found in China cave confirmed as world's oldest". USA Today.
- He Li, (1996). Chinese Ceramics. The New Standard Guide. Thames and Hudson, London. ISBN 0-500-23727-1.
- Temple, Robert K.G. (2007). The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention (3rd edition). London: André Deutsch, pp. 103-6. ISBN 978-0-233-00202-6
- Black, J. T. & Kohser, R. A. (2012). DeGarmo's materials and processes in manufacturing. Wiley. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-470-92467-9.
- Carter, C. B. & Norton, M. G. (2007). Ceramic materials: Science and engineering. Springer. pp. 3 & 4. ISBN 978-0-387-46271-4.
- "Earthenware" Britannica online
- OED, "Terracotta"
- ‘Diagnosis Of Terra-Cotta Glaze Spalling.’ S.E. Thomasen, C.L. Searls. Masonry: Materials, Design, Construction and Maintenance. ASTM STP 992 Philadelphia, USA, 1988. American Society for Testing & Materials.
- ‘Colour Degradation In A Terra Cotta Glaze’ H.J. Lee, W.M. Carty, J.Gill. Ceram.Eng.Sci.Proc. 21, No.2, 2000, p.45-58.
- ‘High-lead glaze compositions and alterations: example of byzantine tiles.’ A. Bouquillon. C. Pouthas. Euro Ceramics V. Pt.2. Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland,1997, p.1487-1490 Quote: “A collection of architectural Byzantine tiles in glazed terra cotta is stored and exhibited in the Art Object department of the Louvre Museum as well as in the Musee de la Ceramique de Sevres.”
- 'Industrial Ceramics.' F.Singer, S.S.Singer. Chapman & Hall. 1971. Quote: "The lighter pieces that are glazed may also be termed 'terracotta.'
- Standard Terminology of Ceramic Whiteware and Related Products: ASTM Standard C242.
- Clay vitrifying temperatures
- Arthur Dodd & David Murfin. Dictionary of Ceramics; 3rd edition. The Institute of Minerals, 1994.
- Encyclopedia Britannica Jasperware is unglazed stoneware
- Oxford English Dictionary: "The ceramic material was apparently so named on account of the resemblance of its translucent surface to the nacreous shell of the mollusc. [...] The cowrie was probably originally so named on account of the resemblance of the fissure of its shell to a vulva (it is unclear whether the reference is spec. to the vulva of a sow)."
- OED, "China"; An Introduction to Pottery. 2nd edition. Rado P. Institute of Ceramic / Pergamon Press. 1988. Usage of "china" in this sense is inconsistent, & it may be used of other types of ceramics also.
- Definition in The Combined Nomenclature of the European Communities defines, Burton, 1906
- By The British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation, and quoted in Dictionary Of Ceramics. Arthur Dodd & David Murfin. 3rd edition. The Institute Of Minerals. 1994.
- Ozgundogdu, Feyza Cakir. “Bone China from Turkey” Ceramics Technical; May2005, Issue 20, p29-32.
- 'Trading Places.' R.Ware. Asian Ceramics. November,2009, p.35,37-39
- What is China? As with stoneware, the body becomes vitrified; which means the body fuses, becomes nonabsorbent, and very strong. Unlike stoneware, china becomes very white and translucent.
- 'Trading Places.' R.Ware. Asian Ceramics. November,2009, p.35,37-39.
- Osborne, Harold (ed), The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts, p. 130, 1975, OUP, ISBN 0198661134; Faulkner, Charles H., "The Ramseys at Swan Pond: The Archaeology and History of an East Tennessee Farm, p.96, 2008, Univ. of Tennessee Press, 2008, ISBN 1572336099, 9781572336094; Lawrence, Susan, "Archaeologies of the British: Explorations of Identity in the United Kingdom and Its Colonies 1600-1945", p. 196, 2013, Routledge, ISBN 1136801928, 781136801921
- 'Pottery Science: materials, process and products.' Allen Dinsdale. Ellis Horwood Limited, 1986.
- "Merriam-Webster.com". Merriam-Webster.com. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
- 'An Introduction To The Technology Of Pottery. 2nd edition. Paul Rado. Institute Of Ceramics & Pergamon Press, 1988
- Pottery, meaning 3, mass noun, Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2015
- 'Standard Terminology Of Ceramic Whitewares And Related Products.' ASTM C 242–01 (2007.) ASTM International.
- Coconino National Forest - Home
- Emmanuel Cooper, Ten Thousand Years of Pottery. British Museum Press, 2000. ISBN 0-7141-2701-9.
- Bloomfield, Linda (2013). Contemporary tableware. London: A. & C. Black. ISBN 9781408153956.
- Venable, Charles L. et al. (2000). China and Glass in America, 1880-1980: From Table Top to TV Tray. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-6692-1.
- Hughes, G. Bernard (George Bernard), 1896-; Hughes, Therle (1955), English porcelain and bone china, Lutterworth Press
- National Palace Museum website
- Peterson, 403
Find more about
at Wikipedia's sister projects
|Definitions from Wiktionary|
|Media from Commons|
|News stories from Wikinews|
|Quotations from Wikiquote|
|Source texts from Wikisource|
|Textbooks from Wikibooks|
|Learning resources from Wikiversity|