Pottery

Pottery

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Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware
Earthenware
Earthenware is a common ceramic material, which is used extensively for pottery tableware and decorative objects.-Types of earthenware:Although body formulations vary between countries and even between individual makers, a generic composition is 25% ball clay, 28% kaolin, 32% quartz, and 15%...

, stoneware
Stoneware
Stoneware is a vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic ware with a fine texture. Stoneware is made from clay that is then fired in a kiln, whether by an artisan to make homeware, or in an industrial kiln for mass-produced or specialty products...

 and porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery (plural "potteries"). Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery.

The definition of pottery used by ASTM
ASTM International
ASTM International, known until 2001 as the American Society for Testing and Materials , is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services...

 is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products." Some archaeologists use a different understanding by excluding ceramic objects such as figurines which are made by similar processes, materials and the same people but are not vessels.

Background


Pottery is made by forming the clay body into objects of a required shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln
Kiln
A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, or oven, in which a controlled temperature regime is produced. Uses include the hardening, burning or drying of materials...

 which removes all 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.

Physical stages of clay


Clay takes on varying physical characteristics during the making of pottery.
  • Greenware refers to unfired objects. Clay bodies at this stage are in their most plastic form. They are soft and maleable. Hence they can be easily deformed by handling.
  • Leather-hard
    Leather-hard
    Leather-hard is the condition of a clay or clay body when it has been partially dried to the point where all shrinkage has been completed. At this stage the clay object has approximately 15% moisture content. The clay is still visibly damp but has dried enough to be able to be handled without...

    refers to a clay body that has been dried by exposing it to the air for a period of time. At this stage the clay object has approximately 15% moisture content. Clay bodies at this stage are very firm and only slightly pliable. Trimming and handle attachment often occurs at the leather-hard state.
  • Bisque
    Bisque (pottery)
    Bisque porcelain is unglazed, white ceramic ware Examples include bisque dolls.Bisque also refers to "pottery that has been fired but not yet glazed...

    refers to the clay after the object is shaped to the desired form and fired in the kiln for the first time, known as "bisque fired". This firing changes the clay in the object in several ways. The clay hardens to a form that is no longer plastic. Mineral components of the clay will undergo chemical changes that will change the color of the clay.
  • Glaze fired is the final stage of some pottery making. A glaze
    Glaze
    Glaze or glazing is a thin shiny coating, or the act of applying the coating; it may refer to:In materials or engineering:* Architectural glass, a building material typically used as transparent glazing material in the building envelope...

     may be applied to the bisque form and the object can be decorated in several ways. After this the object is "Glaze fired" at a very high temperature. This causes the glaze material to harden and causes the glaze and decoration to adhere to the object. The glaze firing may also harden the body still more as chemical processes continue to occur in the body.
  • Quartz inversion
    Quartz inversion
    The room-temperature form of quartz, α-quartz, undergoes a reversible change in crystal structure at 573 °C to form β-quartz. This phenomenon is called an inversion, and for the α to β quartz inversion is accompanied by a linear expansion of 0.45 %. This inversion can lead to cracking of...

    When pottery bodies are heated during the firing process, silica changes its crystaline structure several times causing a rapid expansion in size. During the cooling cycle of the firing, silica may revert to crystaline structures that occur at the lower temperatures. This can cause the pot to crack as it contracts. Slow firing cycles can minimize or eliminate this problem.

In the making of earthenware
Earthenware
Earthenware is a common ceramic material, which is used extensively for pottery tableware and decorative objects.-Types of earthenware:Although body formulations vary between countries and even between individual makers, a generic composition is 25% ball clay, 28% kaolin, 32% quartz, and 15%...

, the object may be only "Once-fired" to create a glazed pot.
  • Bone-dry refers to Clay bodies when they reach a moisture content at or near 0%. This will occur after glaze firing, when that is done, or after bisque firing in the case of once-fired pottery.

Clays and mineral contents


There are several earthen subsoil
Subsoil
Subsoil, or substrata, is the layer of soil under the topsoil on the surface of the ground. The subsoil may include substances such as clay and/or sand that has only been partially broken down by air, sunlight, water, wind etc., to produce true soil...

 materials that are referred to as clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

. The properties of the clays differ in:
Plasticity
Plasticity (physics)
In physics and materials science, plasticity describes the deformation of a material undergoing non-reversible changes of shape in response to applied forces. For example, a solid piece of metal being bent or pounded into a new shape displays plasticity as permanent changes occur within the...

, the maleability of the body; porosity, the degree to which the fired pottery will absorb water; and shrinkage, the degree of reduction in size of a body as water is removed. The various clays also differ in the way in which they respond to different degrees of heat when fired in the kiln. Each of these different clays are composed of different types and amounts of minerals that determine the resulting pottery. There are wide regional variations in the properties of raw materials used for the production of pottery, and this can lead to wares that are unique in character to a locality. It is common for clays and other materials to be mixed to produce clay bodies suited to specific purposes. The two essential components of clay are Silica and Alumina which combine to form Aluminium silicate
Aluminium silicate
Aluminium silicate has the chemical formula 2SiO3. It has a density of 2.8 to 2.9 g/cm³, a vitreous lustre, a refractive index of 1.56, a Mohs hardness of 4.5-7.5 , and can have orthorhombic crystallography...

, also known as Kaolinite
Kaolinite
Kaolinite is a clay mineral, part of the group of industrial minerals, with the chemical composition Al2Si2O54. It is a layered silicate mineral, with one tetrahedral sheet linked through oxygen atoms to one octahedral sheet of alumina octahedra...

. Other mineral compounds in the clay may act as Flux
Flux
In the various subfields of physics, there exist two common usages of the term flux, both with rigorous mathematical frameworks.* In the study of transport phenomena , flux is defined as flow per unit area, where flow is the movement of some quantity per time...

es to lower the melting point
Melting point
The melting point of a solid is the temperature at which it changes state from solid to liquid. At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in equilibrium. The melting point of a substance depends on pressure and is usually specified at standard atmospheric pressure...

 of the silica during firing. Following is a list of different types of clay used for pottery that are available in different regions of the world.
  • Kaolin This is sometimes referred to as China clay because it is used to make quality porcelain china. This is a form of pure clay which is 100% Kaolinite, free of any other mineral component.

  • Ball clay
    Ball clay
    Ball clays are kaolinitic sedimentary clays, that commonly consist of 20-80% kaolinite, 10-25% mica, 6-65% quartz. Localized seams in the same deposit have variations in composition, including the quantity of the major minerals, accessory minerals and carbonaceous materials such as lignite...

      An extremely plastic, fine grained sedimentary clay, which may contain some organic matter. It is usually added to porcelain to incresase plasticity.

  • Fire clay
    Fire clay
    Fire clay is a term applied to a range of refractory clays used in the manufacture of ceramics, especially fire brick.High grade fire clays can withstand temperatures of 1775°C , but to be referred to as a "fire clay" the material must withstand a minimum temperature of 1515°C...

     A clay having a slightly higher percentage of fluxes than Kaolin, but usually quite plastic. It is highly heat resistant form of clay which can be combined with other clays to increase the firing temperature and may be used as an ingredient to make stoneware type bodies.

  • Stoneware
    Stoneware
    Stoneware is a vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic ware with a fine texture. Stoneware is made from clay that is then fired in a kiln, whether by an artisan to make homeware, or in an industrial kiln for mass-produced or specialty products...

     clay
    Clay
    Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

    Suitable for creating Stoneware. This clay Has many of the characteristics between Fire clay and ball clay, having finer grain, like ball clay but more heat resistant like fire clays.

  • Common red clay and Shale
    Shale
    Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. The ratio of clay to other minerals is variable. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering...

     clay
    Is generally suitable for Earthenware unless it is combined with other types of clay. It has vegetable and Ferric oxide impurities which make them useful for bricks, but are generally unsatisfactory for pottery except under special conditions of a particular deposit.

  • Bentonite
    Bentonite
    Bentonite is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate, essentially impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite. There are different types of bentonite, each named after the respective dominant element, such as potassium , sodium , calcium , and aluminum . Experts debate a number of nomenclatorial...

     An extremely plastic clay which can be added in small quantities to short clay to make it more plastic.

  • Slip clay is not a separate type of clay. The term refers to any type of naturally occurring clay "...which contains sufficient fluxes to function as a glaze without further additions".

Hand Shaping Methods



Pottery can be shaped by a range of methods that include:

Hand building. This is the earliest forming method. Wares can be constructed by hand from coils of clay
Coiling (pottery)
Coiling is a method of creating pottery. It has been used to shape clay into vessels for many of thousands of years. It ranges from Africa to Greece and from China to New Mexico. They have used this method in a variety of ways. Using the coiling technique, it is possible to build thicker or taller...

, combining flat slabs of clay, or pinching
Pinch pot
A thumb pot is an ancient as well as contemporary form of pottery. It is a simple form of pottery. The pinching method is a means to create pottery that can be ornamental or functional, and has been widely employed across cultures and times....

 solid balls of clay or some combination of these. Parts of hand-built vessels are often joined together with the aid of slip
Slip (ceramics)
A slip is a suspension in water of clay and/or other materials used in the production of ceramic ware. Deflocculant, such as sodium silicate, can be added to the slip to disperse the raw material particles...

, an aqueous suspension of clay body and water. Hand-building is slower than wheel-throwing, but it offers the potter a high degree of control over the size and shape of wares. The speed and repetitiveness of other techniques is more suitable for making precisely matched sets of wares such as tableware
Tableware
Tableware is the dishes or dishware , dinnerware , or china used for setting a table, serving food, and for dining. Tableware can be meant to include flatware and glassware...

s although some studio potters find hand-building more conducive to create one-of-a-kind works of art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

.
The potter's wheel
Potter's wheel
In pottery, a potter's wheel is a machine used in asma of round ceramic ware. The wheel may also be used during process of trimming the excess body from dried ware and for applying incised decoration or rings of color...

.
In a process called "throwing" (coming from the Old English word thrawan which means to twist or turn, a ball of clay is placed in the center of a turntable, called the wheel-head, which the potter rotates with a stick, with foot power or with a variable-speed electric motor
Electric motor
An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

.

During the process of throwing, the wheel rotates rapidly while the solid ball of soft clay is pressed, squeezed and pulled gently upwards and outwards into a hollow shape. The first step of pressing the rough ball of clay downward and inward into perfect rotational symmetry
Rotational symmetry
Generally speaking, an object with rotational symmetry is an object that looks the same after a certain amount of rotation. An object may have more than one rotational symmetry; for instance, if reflections or turning it over are not counted, the triskelion appearing on the Isle of Man's flag has...

 is called centering the clay--a most important skill to master before the next steps: opening (making a centered hollow into the solid ball of clay), flooring (making the flat or rounded bottom inside the pot), throwing or pulling (drawing up and shaping the walls to an even thickness), and trimming or turning (removing excess clay to refine the shape or to create a foot).

Considerable skill and experience are required to throw pots of an acceptable standard and, while the ware may have high artistic merit, the reproducibility of the method is poor. Because of its inherent limitations, throwing can only be used to create wares with radial symmetry on a vertical axis. These can then be altered by impressing, bulging, carving, fluting, and incising. In addition to the potter's hands these techniques can use tools, including paddles, anvils & ribs, and those specifically for cutting or piercing such as knives, fluting tools and wires. Thrown pieces can be further modified by the attachment of handles, lids, feet and spouts.

Mass Production Methods


Granulate pressing: As the name suggests, this is the operation of shaping pottery by pressing clay in a semi-dry and granulated condition in a mould. The clay is pressed into the mould by a porous die through which water is pumped at high pressure. The granulated
Granular material
A granular material is a conglomeration of discrete solid, macroscopic particles characterized by a loss of energy whenever the particles interact . The constituents that compose granular material must be large enough such that they are not subject to thermal motion fluctuations...

 clay is prepared by spray-drying to produce a fine and free-flowing material having a moisture content of between about 5 and 6 per cent. Granulate pressing, also known as dust pressing, is widely used in the manufacture of ceramic tiles and, increasingly, of plates.

Injection Moulding
Injection moulding
Injection molding is a manufacturing process for producing parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic materials. Material is fed into a heated barrel, mixed, and forced into a mold cavity where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the cavity...

:
is a shape-forming process adapted for the tableware industry from the method long established for the forming of thermoplastic
Thermoplastic
Thermoplastic, also known as a thermosoftening plastic, is a polymer that turns to a liquid when heated and freezes to a very glassy state when cooled sufficiently...

 and some metal components. It has been called Porcelain Injection Moulding, or PIM. Suited to the mass production of complex-shaped articles, one significant advantage of the technique is that it allows the production of a cup
Teacup
A teacup is a small cup, with or without a handle, generally a small one that may be grasped with the thumb and one or two fingers. It is typically made of a ceramic material. It is usually part of a set, composed of a cup and a matching saucer. These in turn may be part of a tea set in...

, including the handle, in a single process, and thereby eliminates the handle-fixing operation and produces a stronger bond between cup and handle. The feed to the mould die is a mix of approximately 50 to 60 percent unfired body in powder form, together with 40 to 50 percent organic additives composed of binders
Binder (material)
-See also:*Adhesive or Glue*Cement*Paint...

, lubricant
Lubricant
A lubricant is a substance introduced to reduce friction between moving surfaces. It may also have the function of transporting foreign particles and of distributing heat...

s and plasticisers
Plasticizer
Plasticizers or dispersants are additives that increase the plasticity or fluidity of the material to which they are added; these include plastics, cement, concrete, wallboard, and clay. Although the same compounds are often used for both plastics and concretes the desired effects and results are...

. The technique is not as widely used as other shaping methods.

Jiggering and jolleying: These operations are carried out on the potter's wheel and allow the time taken to bring wares to a standardized form to be reduced. Jiggering is the operation of bringing a shaped tool into contact with the plastic clay of a piece under construction, the piece itself being set on a rotating plaster mould on the wheel. The jigger tool shapes one face while the mould shapes the other. Jiggering is used only in the production of flat wares, such as plates, but a similar operation, jolleying, is used in the production of hollow-wares such as cups. Jiggering and jolleying have been used in the production of pottery since at least the 18th century. In large-scale factory production, jiggering and jolleying are usually automated, which allows the operations to be carried out by semi-skilled labor.

Roller-head machine: This machine is for shaping wares on a rotating mould, as in jiggering and jolleying, but with a rotary shaping tool replacing the fixed profile. The rotary shaping tool is a shallow cone having the same diameter as the ware being formed and shaped to the desired form of the back of the article being made. Wares may in this way be shaped, using relatively unskilled labor, in one operation at a rate of about twelve pieces per minute, though this varies with the size of the articles being produced. Developed in the U.K. just after World War II by the company Service Engineers, roller-heads were quickly adopted by manufacturers around the world; they remain the dominant method for producing flatware.

Pressure casting – specially developed polymeric materials allow a mould to be subject to application external pressures of up to 4.0 MPa–so much higher than slip casting in plaster moulds where the capillary forces correspond to a pressure of around 0.1 - 0.2 MPa. The high pressure leads to much faster casting rates and, hence, faster production cycles. Furthermore, the application of high pressure air through the polymeric moulds upon demoulding the cast means a new casting cycle can be started immediately in the same mould, unlike plaster moulds which require lengthy drying times. The polymeric materials have much greater durability than plaster and, therefore, it is possible to achieve shaped products with better dimensional tolerances and much longer mould life. Pressure casting was developed in the 1970s for the production of sanitaryware although, more recently, it has been applied to tableware.

RAM pressing: A factory process for shaping table wares and decorative ware by pressing a bat of prepared clay body into a required shape between two porous molding plates. After pressing, compressed air is blown through the porous mould plates to release the shaped wares.

Slipcasting
Slipcasting
Slipcasting is a technique for the mass-production of pottery, especially for shapes not easily made on a wheel. A liquid clay body slip is poured into plaster moulds and allowed to form a layer, the cast, on the inside cavity of the mould...

:
is often used in the mass production of ceramics and is ideally suited to the making of wares that cannot be formed by other methods of shaping. A slip
Slip (ceramics)
A slip is a suspension in water of clay and/or other materials used in the production of ceramic ware. Deflocculant, such as sodium silicate, can be added to the slip to disperse the raw material particles...

, made by mixing clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

 body with water, is poured into a highly absorbent plaster mold. Water from the slip is absorbed into the mould leaving a layer of clay body covering its internal surfaces and taking its internal shape. Excess slip is poured out of the mold, which is then split open and the molded object removed. Slipcasting is widely used in the production of sanitary wares and is also used for making smaller articles, such as intricately detailed figurines.

Decorating and glazing


Pottery may be decorated in a number of ways including:
  • In the clay body, for example, by incising patterns on its surface.
  • Underglaze
    Underglaze
    Underglaze is a method of decorating ceramic articles, the decoration is applied to the surface before it is glazed. Because the glaze will subsequently cover it such decoration is completely durable, but because the subsequent glost firing is at a higher temperature than used in on-glaze...

     decoration (in the manner of many blue and white wares).
  • In-glaze decoration
    In-glaze decoration
    In-glaze or Inglaze colours have been formulated for the decoration of already glazed ceramicware. They can be applied by brush, roller, decal or even spray. Following colour application the pieces are usually allowed to dry before firing...

  • On-glaze decoration
    On-glaze decoration
    On-glaze is a method of decorating ceramic articles, where the decoration is applied after it has been glazed. When the ware is fired, or re-fired in the case of twice-fired ware, the colours fuse into the glaze and so the decoration becomes durable...

  • Enamel

Additives can be worked into the clay body prior to forming, to produce desired effects in the fired wares. Coarse additives such as sand and grog
Grog (clay)
Grog, also known as firesand and chamotte, is a ceramic raw material. It has high percentage of silica and alumina. It can be produced by firing selected fire clays to high temperature before grinding and screening to specific particle sizes. It can also be produced from pitchers...

 (fired clay which has been finely ground) are sometimes used to give the final product a required texture. Contrasting coloured clays and grogs are sometimes used to produce patterns in the finished wares. Colorants, usually metal oxides and carbonates, are added singly or in combination to achieve a desired colour. Combustible particles can be mixed with the body or pressed into the surface to produce texture.

Agateware
Agateware
Agateware is pottery decorated with a combination of contrasting colored clays.The name agateware is derived from the agate stone, which when sliced shows multicolored layers...

:
Named after its resemblance to the quartz mineral agate
Agate
Agate is a microcrystalline variety of silica, chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.-Etymology...

 which has bands or layers of colour that are blended together, agatewares are made by blending clays of differing colours together but not mixing them to the extent that they lose their individual identities. The wares have a distinctive veined or mottled appearance. The term "agateware" is used to describe such wares in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

; in Japan the term "neriage" is used and in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, where such things have been made since at least the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, they are called "marbled" wares. Great care is required in the selection of clays to be used for making agatewares as the clays used must have matching thermal movement characteristics.

Banding: This is the application by hand or by machine of a band of colour to the edge of a plate or cup. Also known as "lining", this operation is often carried out on a potter's wheel.

Burnish
Burnish
Burnishing is a form of pottery treatment in which the surface of the pot is polished, using a hard smooth surface such as a wooden or bone spatula, smooth stones, plastic, or even glass bulbs, while it still is in a leathery 'green' state, i.e., before firing. After firing, the surface is...

ing:
The surface of pottery wares may be burnished prior to firing by rubbing with a suitable instrument of wood, steel or stone to produce a polished finish that survives firing. It is possible to produce very highly polished wares when fine clays are used or when the polishing is carried out on wares that have been partially dried and contain little water, though wares in this condition are extremely fragile and the risk of breakage is high.


Engobe: This is a clay slip, that is used to coat the surface of pottery, usually before firing. Its purpose is often decorative though it can also be used to mask undesirable features in the clay to which it is applied. Engobe slip may be applied by painting or by dipping to provide a uniform, smooth, coating. Engobe has been used by potters from pre-historic times until the present day and is sometimes combined with sgraffito
Sgraffito
Sgraffito is a technique either of wall decor, produced by applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colors to a moistened surface, or in ceramics, by applying to an unfired ceramic body two successive layers of contrasting slip, and then in either case scratching so as to produce an...

 decoration, where a layer of engobe is scratched through to reveal the colour of the underlying clay. With care it is possible to apply a second coat of engobe of a different colour to the first and to incise decoration through the second coat to expose the colour of the underlying coat. Engobes used in this way often contain substantial amounts of silica, sometimes approaching the composition of a glaze
Ceramic glaze
Glaze is a layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has been fired to fuse to a ceramic object to color, decorate, strengthen or waterproof it.-Use:...

.

Litho: This is a commonly-used abbreviation for lithography
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

, although the alternative names of transfer print
Transfer-print
Transfer printing is a mass-production method of applying an image to a curved or uneven surface. It is most commonly used for printing on porcelain and other hard surfaced pottery.Transfer printing evolved in England in the 1750s...

 or "decal" are also common. These are used to apply designs to articles. The litho comprises three layers: the colour, or image, layer which comprises the decorative design; the cover coat, a clear protective layer, which may incorporate a low-melting glass; and the backing paper on which the design is printed by screen printing or lithography. There are various methods of transferring the design while removing the backing-paper, some of which are suited to machine application.

Gold: Decoration with gold is used on some high quality ware. Different methods exist for its application, including:
  • Best gold - a suspension of gold powder in essential oils mixed with a flux and a mercury salt extended. This can be applied by a painting technique. From the kiln, the decoration is dull and requires burnishing to reveal the full colour
  • Acid Gold – a form of gold decoration developed in the early 1860s at the English
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

     factory of Mintons Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent
    Stoke-on-Trent
    Stoke-on-Trent , also called The Potteries is a city in Staffordshire, England, which forms a linear conurbation almost 12 miles long, with an area of . Together with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme Stoke forms The Potteries Urban Area...

    . The glazed surface is etched with diluted hydrofluoric acid
    Hydrofluoric acid
    Hydrofluoric acid is a solution of hydrogen fluoride in water. It is a valued source of fluorine and is the precursor to numerous pharmaceuticals such as fluoxetine and diverse materials such as PTFE ....

     prior to application of the gold. The process demands great skill and is used for the decoration only of ware of the highest class.
  • Bright Gold – consists of a solution of gold sulphoresinate together with other metal resonates and a flux. The name derives from the appearance of the decoration immediately after removal from the kiln as it requires no burnishing
  • Mussel Gold – an old method of gold decoration. It was made by rubbing together gold leaf, sugar and salt, followed by washing to remove solubles

Glazing



Glaze is a glassy coating on pottery, the primary purposes of which are decoration and protection. One important use of glaze is to render porous pottery vessels impermeable to water and other liquids. Glaze may be applied by dusting the unfired composition over the ware or by spraying, dipping, trailing or brushing on a thin slurry
Slurry
A slurry is, in general, a thick suspension of solids in a liquid.-Examples of slurries:Examples of slurries include:* Lahars* A mixture of water and cement to form concrete* A mixture of water, gelling agent, and oxidizers used as an explosive...

 composed of the unfired glaze and water. The colour of a glaze before it has been fired may be significantly different than afterward. To prevent glazed wares sticking to kiln furniture during firing, either a small part of the object being fired (for example, the foot) is left unglazed or, alternatively, special refractory "spurs" are used as supports. These are removed and discarded after the firing.

Some specialised glazing techniques include:
  • Salt-glazing, where common salt is introduced to the kiln during the firing process. The high temperatures cause the salt to volatize, depositing it on the surface of the ware to react with the body to form a sodium aluminosilicate glaze. In the 17th and 18th centuries, salt-glazing was used in the manufacture of domestic pottery. Now, except for use by some studio potters, the process is obsolete. The last large-scale application before its demise in the face of environmental clean air restrictions was in the production of salt-glazed sewer-pipes
    Sanitary sewer
    A sanitary sewer is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater...

    .
  • Ash glazing
    Ash glaze
    Ash glazes are ceramic glazes which were formulated from wood-ash .-Appearance:The glaze has glasslike and pooling characteristics which puts emphasis on the surface texture of the piece being glazed. When the glaze is mostly made up of ash, the final result is mostly dark brown to green. The pots...

     - ash from the combustion of plant matter has been used as the flux component of glazes. The source of the ash was generally the combustion waste from the fuelling of kilns although the potential of ash derived from arable crop wastes has been investigated. Ash glazes are of historical interest in the Far East although there are reports of small-scale use in other locations such as the Catawba Valley Pottery
    Catawba Valley Pottery
    Catawba Valley Pottery describes alkaline glazed stoneware made in the Catawba River Valley of Western North Carolina from the early 19th century, as well as certain contemporary pottery made in the region utilizing traditional methods and forms....

     in the United States. They are now limited to small numbers of studio potters who value the unpredictability arising from the variable nature of the raw material.

Firing


Firing produces irreversible changes in the body. It is only after firing that the article or material is pottery. In lower-fired pottery, the changes include sintering
Sintering
Sintering is a method used to create objects from powders. It is based on atomic diffusion. Diffusion occurs in any material above absolute zero, but it occurs much faster at higher temperatures. In most sintering processes, the powdered material is held in a mold and then heated to a temperature...

, the fusing together of coarser particles in the body at their points of contact with each other. In the case of porcelain, where different materials and higher firing-temperatures are used, the physical, chemical and mineralogical properties of the constituents in the body are greatly altered. In all cases, the object of firing is to permanently harden the wares and the firing regime must be appropriate to the materials used to make them. As a rough guide, earthenwares are normally fired at temperatures in the range of about 1,000°C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 (1,830 °F) to 1200 °C (2,192 °F); stonewares at between about 1100 °C (2,012 °F) to 1300 °C (2,372 °F); and porcelains at between about 1200 °C (2,192 °F) to 1400 °C (2,552 °F). However, the way that ceramics mature in the kiln
Kiln
A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, or oven, in which a controlled temperature regime is produced. Uses include the hardening, burning or drying of materials...

 is influenced not only by the peak temperature achieved but also by the duration of the period of firing. Thus, the maximum temperature within a kiln is often held constant for a period of time to soak the wares to produce the maturity required in the body of the wares.

The atmosphere within a kiln during firing can affect the appearance of the finished wares. An oxidising atmosphere, produced by allowing air to enter the kiln, can cause the oxidation of clays and glazes. A reducing atmosphere, produced by limiting the flow of air into the kiln, can strip oxygen from the surface of clays and glazes. This can affect the appearance of the wares being fired and, for example, some glazes containing iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 fire brown in an oxidising atmosphere, but green in a reducing atmosphere. The atmosphere within a kiln can be adjusted to produce complex effects in glaze.

Kilns may be heated by burning wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 and gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

 or by electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

. When used as fuels, coal and wood can introduce smoke, soot and ash into the kiln which can affect the appearance of unprotected wares. For this reason, wares fired in wood- or coal-fired kilns are often placed in the kiln in "saggars", lidded ceramic boxes, to protect them. Modern kilns powered by gas or electricity are cleaner and more easily controlled than older wood- or coal-fired kilns and often allow shorter firing times to be used. In a Western adaptation of traditional Japanese Raku ware firing, wares are removed from the kiln while hot and smothered in ashes, paper or woodchips which produces a distinctive carbonised
Carbonization
Carbonization or carbonisation is the term for the conversion of an organic substance into carbon or a carbon-containing residue through pyrolysis or destructive distillation. It is often used in organic chemistry with reference to the generation of coal gas and coal tar from raw coal...

 appearance. This technique is also used in Malaysia in creating traditional labu sayung.

History


A great part of the history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of pottery is prehistoric, part of past pre-literate cultures. Therefore, much of this history can only be found among the artifacts of archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

. Because pottery is so durable, pottery and sherds from pottery survive from millenia
Millenia
Millenia or Milenia is the plural of a Millennium meaning 1,000 years. Thus, Millenia takes on the meaning of more than 1,000 years, but in sets of 1,000 Millenia or Milenia is the plural of a Millennium meaning 1,000 years. Thus, Millenia takes on the meaning of more than 1,000 years, but in sets...

 at archaeological sites.

Before pottery becomes part of a culture, several conditions must generally be met.

First, there must be usable clay available. Archaeological sites where the earliest pottery was found were near deposits of readily available clay that could be properly shaped and fired. China has large deposits of a variety of clays, which gave them an advantage in early development of fine pottery. Japan, Great Britain, and the United States also have large deposits of a variety of clays. This gave them an advantage in developing fine pottery, especially after the start of the Industrial Age.

Second, it must be possible to heat the pottery to temperatures that will achieve the transformation from raw clay to hardened pottery. Humans did not develop methods to control fire until late in the development of cultures. Methods to reliably create fires hot enough to fire pottery came even later.

Third, the potter must have time available to prepare, shape and fire the clay into pottery. Even after control of fire was achieved, humans did not seem to develop pottery until a sedentary life was achieved. It has been hypothesized that pottery was developed only after humans established agriculture, which led to permanent settlements.

Fourth, there must be a sufficient need for pottery in order to justify the resources required for its production.




Early pottery


Methods of forming: Hand-shaping was the earliest method used to form vessels. This included the combination of pinching
Pinch pot
A thumb pot is an ancient as well as contemporary form of pottery. It is a simple form of pottery. The pinching method is a means to create pottery that can be ornamental or functional, and has been widely employed across cultures and times....

and coiling
Coiling (pottery)
Coiling is a method of creating pottery. It has been used to shape clay into vessels for many of thousands of years. It ranges from Africa to Greece and from China to New Mexico. They have used this method in a variety of ways. Using the coiling technique, it is possible to build thicker or taller...

.

Firing: The earliest method for firing pottery wares was the use of bonfires Pit fired pottery
Pit fired pottery
Pit firing is the oldest known method for the firing of pottery. Examples have been dated as early as 29,000–25,000 BCE. Kilns have since replaced pit firing as the most widespread method of firing pottery, although the technique still finds limited use amongst certain studio potters.Unfired...

. Firing times were short but the peak-temperatures achieved in the fire could be high, perhaps in the region of 900 °C (1,652 °F), and were reached very quickly.

Clay: Early potters used whatever clay was available to them in their geographic vicinity. However, the lowest quality common red clay was adequate for low-temperature fires used for the earliest pots. Clays tempered with sand, grit, crushed shell or crushed pottery were often used to make bonfire-fired ceramics because they provided an open-body texture that allowed water and other volatile components of the clay to escape freely. The coarser particles in the clay also acted to restrain shrinkage within the bodies of the wares during cooling, which was carried out slowly to reduce the risk of thermal stress and cracking.

Form: In the main, early bonfire-fired wares were made with rounded bottoms to avoid sharp angles that might be susceptible to cracking.

Glazing: Because it required higher temperatures for firing, early pots were not glazed.

The potter's wheel
Potter's wheel
In pottery, a potter's wheel is a machine used in asma of round ceramic ware. The wheel may also be used during process of trimming the excess body from dried ware and for applying incised decoration or rings of color...

was invented in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 sometime between 6,000 and 4,000 BCE (Ubaid period
Ubaid period
The Ubaid period is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The tell of al-`Ubaid west of nearby Ur in southern Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate has given its name to the prehistoric Pottery Neolithic to Chalcolithic culture, which represents the earliest settlement on the alluvial plain of southern...

) and revolutionized pottery production. Specialized potters were then able to meet the expanding needs of the world's first cities.

Bisque molds were used to a limited extent as early as the 5th and 6th century by the Etruscan
Etruscan
-Etruscan civilization:*Etruscan alphabet*Etruscan architecture*Etruscan art*Etruscan cities*Etruscan civilization*Etruscan coins*Etruscan language*Etruscan mythology*Etruscan numerals*Etruscan society*Etruscan terracotta warriors*Etruscan warfare...

s and more extensively by the Romans .

Slipcasting
Slipcasting
Slipcasting is a technique for the mass-production of pottery, especially for shapes not easily made on a wheel. A liquid clay body slip is poured into plaster moulds and allowed to form a layer, the cast, on the inside cavity of the mould...

, a popular method for forming clay in mass production today, was practiced to a limited degree in China as early as the T'ang dynasty 

Transition to kilns: The earliest intentionally-constructed were pit-kilns
Pit fired pottery
Pit firing is the oldest known method for the firing of pottery. Examples have been dated as early as 29,000–25,000 BCE. Kilns have since replaced pit firing as the most widespread method of firing pottery, although the technique still finds limited use amongst certain studio potters.Unfired...

 or trench-kilns—holes dug in the ground and covered with fuel. Holes in the ground provided insulation and resulted in better control over firing.

kilns: Pit fire methods were adequate for creating earthenware, but higher-fired stoneware and porcelain required more sophisticated methods of firing using high-fire kilns (see below kilns).

Earthenware


The earliest forms of pottery were made from clays that were fired at low temperatures in pit-fires or in open bonfires. They were hand formed and undecorated. Because the bisque
Bisque
Bisque may refer to:* Bisque , a piece of unglazed pottery* Bisque , a thick, creamy soup made from puréed seafood or vegetables* Bisque, a free turn in a handicap croquet match* Bisque, a free point in a handicap real tennis match...

 form of earthenware is porous, it has limited utility for storage of liquids. However, earthenware has a continuous history from the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period to today. It can be made from a wide variety of clays. Many of the clays that can be turned to pottery at low temperatures are also more plastic than many of those that are fired at higher temperatures, especially those used for porcelain. The development of Ceramic glaze
Ceramic glaze
Glaze is a layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has been fired to fuse to a ceramic object to color, decorate, strengthen or waterproof it.-Use:...

 which makes it vitreous and non-porous makes it a popular and practical form of pottery making. The addition of decoration has evolved throughout its history.

Stoneware



Glazed Stoneware was being created as early as the 15th century BCE in China. This achievement coincided with kilns that could be fired at higher temperatures.

Porcelain



Porcelain in the strictest sense was first made in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE). Porcelain was also made in Korea and Japan around the 16th and 17th century AD after suitable kaolin was located in those countries. It was not created outside of the area until the 18th century.

History by Region


The earliest-known ceramic objects are Gravettian
Gravettian
thumb|right|Burins to the Gravettian culture.The Gravettian toolmaking culture was a specific archaeological industry of the European Upper Palaeolithic era prevalent before the last glacial epoch. It is named after the type site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its...

 figurines such as those discovered at Dolní Věstonice in the modern-day Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

. The Venus of Dolní Věstonice
Venus of Dolní Vestonice
The Venus of Dolní Věstonice is a Venus figurine, a ceramic statuette of a nude female figure dated to 29,000–25,000 BCE , which was found at a Paleolithic site in the Moravian basin south of Brno.-Description:...

 (Věstonická Venuše in Czech) is a Venus figurine, a statuette of a nude female figure dated to 29,000–25,000 BCE (Gravettian industry). The earliest pottery vessels found include those excavated from the Yuchanyan Cave
Yuchanyan Cave
Yuchanyan Cave is an archeological site in Daoxian County, Hunan, China. The site yielded sherds of ceramic vessels and other artifacts which were dated by analysis of charcoal and bone collagen, giving a date range of 17,500 to 18,300 years old for the pottery...

 in southern China, dated from 16,000 BCE, and those found in the Amur River basin in the Russian Far East, dated from 14,000 BCE.

Other earlypottery vessels include those made by the Incipient Jōmon people of Japan from around 10,500 BCE have also been found.
The term "Jōmon" means "cord-marked" in Japanese. This refers to the markings made on the vessels and figures using sticks with cords during their production.

It appears that pottery was independently developed in North Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 during the 10,000 BCE and in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 during the 10,000 BCE

Far East Asia



The Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

, sometimes called the Orient
Orient
The Orient means "the East." It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is a metonym that means various parts of Asia.- Derivation :...

, has excelled in all categories on the history of making pottery. Sherds have been found in China and Japan from a period between 12,000 and perhaps as long as 16,000 years ago. In Japan, the Jōmon period
Jomon period
The is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BC to 300 BC.The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them...

 has a long history of development of Jōmon Pottery
Jomon Pottery
The is a type of ancient pottery which was made during the Jōmon period in Japan. The term "Jōmon" means "rope-patterned" in Japanese, describing the patterns that are pressed into the clay.- Oldest Pottery in the World :...

 which was characterized by impressions of rope on the surface of the pottery created by pressing rope into the clay before firing. Glazed Stoneware was being created as early as the 15th century BCE in China. Porcelain became a renowned Chinese export during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE) and subsequent dynasties. Korean potters produced porcelain as early as the 14th century CE. Koreans brought the art of porcelain to Japan in the 17th century CE.

The secret of making such porcelain was sought in the Islamic world and later in Europe when examples were imported from the East. Many attempts were made to imitate it in Italy and France. However it was not produced outside of the Orient until 1709 in Germany.

Central Asia


Pottery was in use in ancient India
History of India
The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

, including areas now forming Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and northwest India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, during the Mehrgarh
Mehrgarh
Mehrgarh , one of the most important Neolithic sites in archaeology, lies on the "Kachi plain" of Balochistan, Pakistan...

 Period II (5,500-4,800 BCE) and Merhgarh Period III (4,800-3,500 BCE), known as the ceramic Neolithic and chalcolithic. Pottery, including items known as the ed-Dur vessels, originated in regions of the Indus Valley
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 and have been found in a number of sites in the Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

.

Near East


The earliest history of pottery production in the Near East can be divided into four periods, namely: the Hassuna period (5,000-4,500 BCE), the Halaf period (4,500-4,000 BCE), the Ubaid period (4,000-3,000 BCE), and the Uruk period (3,500-2,000 BCE).

The invention of the potter's wheel
Potter's wheel
In pottery, a potter's wheel is a machine used in asma of round ceramic ware. The wheel may also be used during process of trimming the excess body from dried ware and for applying incised decoration or rings of color...

 in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 sometime between 6,000 and 4,000 BCE (Ubaid period
Ubaid period
The Ubaid period is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The tell of al-`Ubaid west of nearby Ur in southern Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate has given its name to the prehistoric Pottery Neolithic to Chalcolithic culture, which represents the earliest settlement on the alluvial plain of southern...

) revolutionized pottery production. Specialized potters were then able to meet the expanding needs of the world's first cities.

Pottery making began in the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

 from the 7th millenium BCE. The earliest forms, which were found at the Hassuna
Hassuna
Hassuna or Tell Hassuna is an ancient Mesopotamian site situated in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq west of the Tigris river, south of Mosul and about 35 km southwest of Nineveh.-History:...

 site, were hand formed from slabs, undecorated, unglazed low-fired pots made from redish-brown clays. Within the next millenium, wares were decorated with elaborate painted designs and natural forms, incising and burnished.

By 4000 BCE, the potters wheel was developed. Newer kiln designs could fire wares to 1050 °C (1,922 °F) to 1200 °C (2,192 °F) which enabled new possibilities and new preparation of clays. Production was now carried out by small groups of potters for small cities, rather than individuals making wares for a family. The shapes and range of uses for ceramics and pottery expanded beyond simple vessels to store and carry to specialized cooking utensils, pot stands and rat traps.

As the region developed new organizations and political forms, pottery became more elaborate and varied. Some wares were made using molds, allowing for more mass-production for the needs of the growing populations. Glazing was commonly used and pottery was more decorated.

Agean Region



Civilization developed concurrently with the Fertile Crescent in the ancient Mediterranean islands around Greece from about 3200 to 1000 BCE and carried to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 that is considered the Classical era in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. The arts of these cultures eventually became a hallmark for Europe and the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

.

The Minoan pottery was characterized by elaborate painted decoration with natural themes.

The classical Greek culture began to emerge around 1000 BCE featuring a variety of well crafted pottery which now included the human form as a decorating motif. The pottery wheel was now in regular use. Although glazing was known to these potters, it was not widely used. Instead, a more porous clay slip was used for decoration. A wide range of shapes
Typology of Greek Vase Shapes
Pottery in Greece has a long history and the form of Greek Vase Shapes has had a continuous evolution from the Minoan period down to the Hellenistic era...

  for different uses developed early and remained essentially unchanged during the Greek history.

In the Mediterranean, during the Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

 (1,100–800 BCE), amphora
Amphora
An amphora is a type of vase-shaped, usually ceramic container with two handles and a long neck narrower than the body...

s and other pottery were decorated with geometric designs such as squares, circles and lines. In the Chalcolithic period in Mesopotamia, Halafian pottery achieved a level of technical competence and sophistication, not seen until the later developments of Greek pottery with Corinthian and Attic ware.

The Etruscan pottery carried on the Greek pottery with its own variations.

The Ancient Roman pottery
Ancient Roman pottery
Pottery was produced in enormous quantities in ancient Rome, mostly for utilitarian purposes. It is found all over the former Roman Empire and beyond...

 started by copying Greek and Etruscan styles but soon developed a style of its own.

The distinctive Red Samian ware of the Early Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 was copied by regional potters throughout the Empire.

Islamic pottery



Early Islamic pottery
Islamic pottery
Medieval Islamic pottery occupied a geographical position between Chinese ceramics and the pottery of the Byzantine Empire and Europe. For most of the period it can fairly be said to have been between the two in terms of aesthetic achievement and influence as well, borrowing from China and...

 followed the forms of the regions which the Muslims conquered. Eventually, however, there was cross-fertilization between the regions. This was most notable in the Chinese influences on Islamic pottery
Chinese influences on Islamic pottery
Chinese influences on Islamic pottery cover a period starting from at least the 8th century CE to the 19th century. This influence of Chinese ceramics has to be viewed in the broader context of the considerable importance of Chinese culture on Islamic arts in general.-Early contacts with Central...

. Trade between China and Islam took place via the system of trading posts over the lengthy Silk road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

. Islamic nations imported stoneware and later porcelain from China. China imported the minerals for Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue is a cool, slightly desaturated blue color, historically made using cobalt salts of alumina. It is used in certain ceramics and painting; the different cobalt pigment smalt, based on silica, is more often used directly in tinted transparent glasses...

 from the Islamic ruled Persia to decorate their Blue and white porcelain, which they then exported to the Islamic world.

Likewise, Islamic art contributed to a lasting pottery form identified as Hispano-Moresque
Hispano-Moresque
Hispano-Moresque ware is a style of initially Islamic pottery created in Al Andalus or Muslim Spain, which continued to be produced under Christian rule in styles blending Islamic and European elements...

 in Andalucia (Islamic Spain). Unique Islamic forms were also developed, including Fritware
Fritware
Fritware, also known as Islamic stone-paste, is a type of pottery in which frit is added to clay to reduce its fusion temperature. As a result, the mixture can be fired at a lower temperature than clay alone....

, Lusterware
Lusterware
Lusterware or Lustreware is a type of pottery or porcelain with a metallic glaze that gives the effect of iridescence, produced by metallic oxides in an overglaze finish, which is given a second firing at a lower temperature in a "muffle kiln", reduction kiln, which excludes oxygen.The first use...

 and specialized glazes like Tin-glazing
Tin-glazing
Tin-glazing is the process of giving ceramic items a tin-based glaze which is white, glossy and opaque, normally applied to red or buff earthenware. The opacity and whiteness of tin glaze make it valued by its ability to decorate with colour....

, which led to the development of the popular Maiolica
Maiolica
Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes.-Name:...

.

One major emphasis in ceramic development in the Muslim world was the use of tile
Tile
A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops...

 and decorative tilework.

Europe


The early inhabitants of Europe developed pottery at about the same time as in the Near East, circa 5500–4500 BCE. These cultures and their pottery were eventually shaped by new cultural influences and technology with the invasions of Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and later by Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. The Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 art of Europe was a melding of the art of Classical era and Islamic art
Islamic art
Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onwards by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by or ruled by culturally Islamic populations...

.

Americas



Most evidence points to an independent development of pottery in the Amerindian cultures, starting with their Archaic Era (3500–2000 BCE), and into their Formative period (2000 BCE-200 CE). These cultures did not develop the high-fire pottery or glazes found in the old world.

Africa


Northern Africa includes Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, which had several distinct phases of development in pottery. During the early Mediterranean civilizations of the fertile crescent, Egypt developed a unique non-clay-based high-fired ceramic which has come to be called Egyptian faience
Egyptian faience
Egyptian faience is a non-clay based ceramic displaying surface vitrification which creates a bright lustre of various blue-green colours. Having not been made from clay it is often not classed as pottery. It is called "Egyptian faience" to distinguish it from faience, the tin glazed pottery...

. The non-clay ceramic called Egyptian faience
Egyptian faience
Egyptian faience is a non-clay based ceramic displaying surface vitrification which creates a bright lustre of various blue-green colours. Having not been made from clay it is often not classed as pottery. It is called "Egyptian faience" to distinguish it from faience, the tin glazed pottery...

 should not be confused with faience
Faience
Faience or faïence is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body, originally associated with Faenza in northern Italy. The invention of a white pottery glaze suitable for painted decoration, by the addition of an oxide of tin to the slip...

, which is a type of glaze.


The other major phase came during the Umayyad Caliphate of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, Egypt was a link between early center of Islam in the Near East and Iberia which led to the impressive style of pottery.

Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 had a distinctly different history with relatively less development of pottery.

Oceania


Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

(Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

, Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

, and Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

)

Pottery has been found in archaeological sites across the islands of Oceania. It is attributed to an ancient archaeological culture called the Lapita
Lapita
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia...

. A form of pottery called Plainware is found throughout sites of Oceania. The relationship between Lapita pottery and Plainware is not altogether clear.

Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

is sometimes counted as part of Oceania. However, it had a quite different development. The Aborigines of Australia were hunter-gatherer tribes and did not farm or cultivate crops. In keeping with these cultural features, they also never developed pottery. After Europeans came to Australia and settled, they found deposits of clay which were analyzed by English potters as excellent for making pottery. Less than 20 years later, Europeans came to Australia and began creating pottery. Since then, ceramic manufacturing, mass-produced pottery, and studio pottery have flourished in Australia.

Archaeology



For archaeologists, anthropologists
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and historians
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 the study of pottery can help to provide an insight into past cultures. Pottery is durable, and fragments, at least, often survive long after artifacts made from less-durable materials have decayed past recognition. Combined with other evidence, the study of pottery artifacts is helpful in the development of theories on the organisation, economic condition and the cultural development of the societies that produced or acquired pottery. The study of pottery may also allow inferences to be drawn about a culture's daily life, religion, social relationships, attitudes towards neighbors, attitudes to their own world and even the way the culture understood the universe.

Chronologies based on pottery are often essential for dating non-literate cultures and are often of help in the dating of historic cultures as well. Trace-element analysis, mostly by neutron activation
Neutron activation
Neutron activation is the process in which neutron radiation induces radioactivity in materials, and occurs when atomic nuclei capture free neutrons, becoming heavier and entering excited states. The excited nucleus often decays immediately by emitting particles such as neutrons, protons, or alpha...

, allows the sources of clay to be accurately identified and the thermoluminescence
Thermoluminescence
Thermoluminescence is a form of luminescence that is exhibited by certain crystalline materials, such as some minerals, when previously absorbed energy from electromagnetic radiation or other ionizing radiation is re-emitted as light upon heating of the material...

 test can be used to provide an estimate of the date of last firing. Examining fired pottery shards from prehistory, scientists learned that during high-temperature firing, iron materials in clay record the exact state of Earth's magnetic field at that exact moment.

Environmental issues in production


Although many of the environmental effects of pottery production have existed for millennia, some of these have been amplified with modern technology and scales of production. The principal factors for consideration fall into two categories: (a) effects on workers, and (b) effects on the general environment. Within the effects on workers, chief impacts are indoor air quality, sound levels
Noise health effects
Noise health effects are the health consequences of elevated sound levels. Elevated workplace or other noise can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance and sleep disturbance. Changes in the immune system and birth defects have been attributed to noise exposure...

 and possible over-illumination
Over-illumination
Over-illumination is the presence of lighting intensity beyond that required for a specified activity. Over-illumination was commonly ignored between 1950 and 1995, especially in office and retail environments; only since then has the interior design community begun to reconsider this practice.The...

. Regarding the general environment, factors of interest are fuel consumption, off-site water pollution
Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies . Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds....

, air pollution
Air pollution
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere....

 and disposal of hazardous materials.

Historically, "plumbism" (lead poisoning
Lead poisoning
Lead poisoning is a medical condition caused by increased levels of the heavy metal lead in the body. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems...

) was a significant health concern to those glazing pottery. This was recognised at least as early as the nineteenth century, and the first legislation in the United Kingdom to limit pottery workers’ exposure was introduced in 1899. While the risk to those working in ceramics is now much reduced, it can still not be ignored. With respect to indoor air quality
Indoor air quality
Indoor air quality is a term referring to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants....

, workers can be exposed to fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide , also called carbonous oxide, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly lighter than air. It is highly toxic to humans and animals in higher quantities, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal...

 and certain heavy metals
Heavy metals
A heavy metal is a member of a loosely-defined subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties. It mainly includes the transition metals, some metalloids, lanthanides, and actinides. Many different definitions have been proposed—some based on density, some on atomic number or atomic weight,...

. The greatest health risk is the potential to develop silicosis
Silicosis
Silicosis, also known as Potter's rot, is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust, and is marked by inflammation and scarring in forms of nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs...

 from the long-term exposure to crystalline silica. Proper ventilation can reduce the risks, and the first legislation in the United Kingdom to govern ventilation was introduced in 1899. Another, more recent, study at Laney College
Laney College
Laney College is a community college located in Oakland, California, next to the Lake Merritt BART station and the Kaiser Convention Center. Laney is the largest of the four colleges of the Peralta Community College District which serves northern Alameda County.Laney College originally opened in...

, Oakland, California
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

 suggests that all these factors can be controlled in a well-designed workshop environment.

The use of energy and pollutants in the production of ceramics is a growing concern. Electric firing is arguably more environmentally friendly than combustion firing although the source of the electricity varies in environmental impact.

Other usages


The English city of Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent , also called The Potteries is a city in Staffordshire, England, which forms a linear conurbation almost 12 miles long, with an area of . Together with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme Stoke forms The Potteries Urban Area...

 is widely known as The Potteries because of the large number of pottery factories or, colloquially, Pot Banks. It was one of the first industrial cities of the modern era where, as early as 1785, two hundred pottery manufacturers employed 20,000 workers. For the same reason, the largest football club in the city is known as The Potters.

See also


  • List of pottery terms
  • Anagama kiln
    Anagama kiln
    thumb|250px|right|Anagama kiln 1 Door about wide2 Firebox3 Stacking floor made of silica sand4 Dampers5 Flue6 Chimney7 Refractory archThe anagama kiln is an ancient type of pottery kiln brought to Japan from China via Korea in the 5th century.An anagama consists of a firing chamber with a...

  • Arts and Crafts Movement
    Arts and Crafts movement
    Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...

  • Asbestos-Ceramic
    Asbestos-Ceramic
    Asbestos-ceramic refers to types of pottery manufactured with asbestos and clay with adiabatic behaviour in Finland, Karelia and Northern-Scandinavia...

  • Barro negro pottery
  • Celadon
    Celadon
    Celadon is a term for ceramics denoting both a type of glaze and a ware of a specific color, also called celadon. This type of ware was invented in ancient China, such as in the Zhejiang province...

  • Ceramic art
    Ceramic art
    In art history, ceramics and ceramic art mean art objects such as figures, tiles, and tableware made from clay and other raw materials by the process of pottery. Some ceramic products are regarded as fine art, while others are regarded as decorative, industrial or applied art objects, or as...

  • Chinese ceramics including porcelain
  • Delftware
    Delftware
    Delftware, or Delft pottery, denotes blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands and the tin-glazed pottery made in the Netherlands from the 16th century....

  • Dipped ware
    Dipped ware
    Dipped ware is the period term used by potters in late 18th- and 19th-century British potteries for utilitarian earthenware vessels turned on horizontal lathes and decorated with colored slip. The earliest examples have either variegated surfaces or geometric patterns created with the use of a rose...

  • Faience
    Faience
    Faience or faïence is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body, originally associated with Faenza in northern Italy. The invention of a white pottery glaze suitable for painted decoration, by the addition of an oxide of tin to the slip...

  • Fiesta (dinnerware) Fiestaware
  • Franciscan Ceramics
    Franciscan Ceramics
    Franciscan Ceramics are ceramic tabletop and tile products produced by Gladding, McBean & Co. in Los Angeles, California from 1934–1962, International Pipe and Ceramics from 1962–1979, and Wedgwood from 1979-1983. Wedgwood closed the Los Angeles plant, and moved the production of dinnerware to...

  • Glaze defects
    Glaze Defects
    Glaze defects are any flaws in the surface quality of a ceramic glaze, its physical structure or its interaction with the body.-Body/glaze interaction problems:...

  • History of pottery in the Southern Levant
    History of pottery in the Southern Levant
    The history of pottery in Palestine describes the discovery and cultural development of pottery in Syro-Palestinian archaeology in the historical region of Palestine, which includes the modern day polities of Israel, the Palestinian Authority administered areas of the West Bank and the Gaza strip,...

  • Iranian pottery
    Iranian pottery
    Iranian pottery or Persian pottery production presents a continuous history from the beginning of Iranian history until the present day....

  • Jasperware
    Jasperware
    Jasperware, or jasper ware, is a type of stoneware first developed by Josiah Wedgwood, although some authorities have described it as a type of porcelain...

  • Korean ceramics
  • Kakiemon
    Kakiemon
    Kakiemon wares were produced at the factories of Arita, Saga Prefecture, Japan from the mid-17th century, with much in common with the Chinese "Famille Verte" style...

     pottery
  • Longquan celadon
    Longquan celadon
    Longquan celadon refers to Chinese celadon produced in Longguan kilns which were largely located in Lishui prefecture in southwestern Zhejiang Province...

  • Maiolica
    Maiolica
    Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes.-Name:...

     of Renaissance Italy
  • Native American pottery
    Native American pottery
    Native American pottery is an art form with at least a 7500-year history in the Americas. Pottery is fired ceramics with clay as a component. Ceramics are used for utilitarian cooking vessels, serving and storage vessels, pipes, funerary urns, censers, musical instruments, ceremonial items, masks,...

  • Poole Pottery
    Poole Pottery
    Poole Pottery is a pottery manufacturer, originally based in Poole, Dorset, England. The company was founded in 1873 on Poole quayside, where it continued to produce pottery by hand before moving its factory operations away from the quay in 1999. Production continued at the new site in Sopers Lane...

  • Rockingham Pottery
    Rockingham Pottery
    The Rockingham Pottery was a 19th century manufacturer of porcelain of international repute, supplying fine wares and ornamental pieces to royalty and the aristocracy in Britain and overseas, as well as manufacturing porcelain and earthenware items for ordinary use.It is best known for its finely...

  • Royal Doulton
    Royal Doulton
    The Royal Doulton Company is an English company producing tableware and collectables, dating to 1815. Operating originally in London, its reputation grew in The Potteries, where it was a latecomer compared to Spode, Wedgwood and Minton...

     — Henry Doulton
    Henry Doulton
    Sir Henry Doulton was an English businessman, inventor and manufacturer of pottery, instrumental in developing the firm of Royal Doulton....

    , John Doulton
    John Doulton
    John Doulton was an English businessman and manufacturer of pottery, a founder of the firm that later became known as Royal Doulton. John Doulton married Jane Duneau, a widow from Bridgnorth in Shropshire, who died April 9, 1841...

  • Sancai
    Sancai
    Sancai is a type of ceramics using three intermingled colors for decoration.-Technique:The body of Sancai ceramics was made of white clay, coated with a layer of glaze, and fired at a temperature of 800 degrees Celsius. Sancai is a type of lead-glazed pottery: lead oxide was the principal flux in...

  • Sea pottery
    Sea pottery
    Sea pottery is pottery which is broken into worn pieces and shards and found on beaches along oceans or large lakes. Sea pottery has been tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small pieces of smooth, frosted pottery...

  • Slipware
    Slipware
    Slipware is a type of pottery identified by its primary decorating process where slip was placed onto the leather-hard clay body surface by dipping, painting or splashing...

  • Staffordshire Potteries
    Staffordshire Potteries
    The Staffordshire Potteries is a generic term for the industrial area encompassing the six towns that now make up Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire, England....

  • Talavera (pottery)
    Talavera (pottery)
    Talavera pottery of Puebla, Mexico is a type of majolica pottery, which is distinguished by a milky-white glaze. Authentic Talavera pottery only comes from the city of Puebla and the nearby communities of Atlixco, Cholula, and Tecali, because of the quality of the natural clay found there and the...

    , Mexican maiolica
  • Thai ceramics
    Thai ceramics
    Thai ceramics refers to pottery designed or produced in the kingdoms and territories that today belong to the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly Siam...

  • Wedgwood
    Wedgwood
    Wedgwood, strictly speaking Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, is a pottery firm owned by KPS Capital Partners, a private equity company based in New York City, USA. Wedgwood was founded on May 1, 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood and in 1987 merged with Waterford Crystal to create Waterford Wedgwood, an...

     — Enoch Wedgwood
    Enoch Wedgwood
    Enoch Wedgwood was an English potter, founder in 1860 of the pottery firm Wedgwood & Co of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent. He was a distant cousin of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood, of Josiah Wedgwood & Sons but their two businesses were separate concerns.Wedgwood married Jane Mattinson in 1837...

    , Josiah Wedgwood
    Josiah Wedgwood
    Josiah Wedgwood was an English potter, founder of the Wedgwood company, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. A prominent abolitionist, Wedgwood is remembered for his "Am I Not A Man And A Brother?" anti-slavery medallion. He was a member of the Darwin–Wedgwood family...

  • Victorian majolica
    Victorian majolica
    Victorian Majolica is earthenware pottery made in 19th century Britain, Europe and the USA with molded surfaces and colorful clear lead glazes.-History:...

  • Vietnamese ceramics
  • Yixing
    Yixing
    Yixing is a county-level city in Jiangsu province, in eastern China with a population of 1.3 million. It is well-known for its Yixing clay and the pottery -- especially the "zisha"-style teapots -- made from the clay...

    pottery


External links