Porcelain Production in Jingdezhen
Ceramics have been produced for over 1800 years
in Jingdezhen, China. Emperor Zhenzong
decreed that Changnanzhen, as the city was know then, should produce all of the
porcelain used by the imperial court during the Jingde Period (1004-1007). The industry continued to develop there during the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.
Today Jingdezhen is a recognized center of porcelain production. Although
electric wheels and electric and gas kilns are used today in the factories,
throwing and decorating techniques and wood-fired kilns can be seen as well.
Old working methods and Qing Dynasty
can be seen at the Jingdezhen Ceramic History Museum:
|The potter's wheel is spun counter-clockwise with a stick.
||A dry bowl is trimmed to make it paper thin.
||Greenware is glazed by dipping and pouring.
Production techniques used in Jingdezhen today:
|Porcelain is mined, powdered, mixed with water,
slaked, squeezed, then pugged.
||Porcelain is press
molded at the Sculpture Factory to make an edition of figurines.
|Sections of large vessels are thrown, dried, trimmed,
||A pot is trimmed in the foreground, while clay is
prepared for throwing in the middle ground and centered in the background.
||Several young men join forces to throw a large pot on
an electric wheel.
|Uneven surfaces and cracks mark some of the places where thrown sections were joined on these Ming porcelain
vessels from the Shanghai Museum.
|The surface of a multi-sectioned pot is sanded to create a smooth
profile at the Imitated Antique Porcelain Factory Hutianjingdezhen
||A stencil is often used to lay out the
pattern on the greenware at the Jingdezhen Jiayang Ceramics Company. Underglaze is then painted over the stenciled
lines, which burn off during the firing.
|Painting cobalt underglaze on greenware at the IAPFH.
||A bronze statue demonstrates the old
method of spraying clear glaze over underglaze onto greenware. Today a compressor and spray booth are used.
|Although electric and gas kilns have replaced coal and wood-burning
kilns, smokestacks from abandoned coal-burning kilns can still be seen.
||This gas car kiln with a dolly to move the car onto
the track is typical of the kilns used today. Most ware is once fired.
Only pieces with overglaze are fired several times.
A pilgrimage to Jingdezhen, the birth place of high fire ceramics,
is definitely worth the effort. Short-term residencies for international
students and artists are available at the Jingdezhen
Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute and the Sculpture Factory. You may also enjoy reading my Made in China
article in the July/August 2008 issue of
Dunzi Production in Yaoli, China
The Pottery Workshop in Shanghai
Printing in China
Ceramics of Mexico
Mexican Ceramist, Angelica
Mexican Ceramist, José
Luis Méndez Ortega
Ceramics of Mexico
Ceramics of Ubeda,
Tiles and Ceramics of Seville,
Tiles and Ceramics of Talavera
de la Reina, Spain
Monje Ceramics of Lora
del Rio, Spain
Earthenware Tiles of
Majolica Ceramics of Caldas
da Rainha, Portugal
of Western Cameroon
Roof Tiles in Bali, Indonesia
Traditional Crafts of Porcelain Making in Jingdezhen, by Bai Ming, Jiangxi
Fine Arts Publishing House, 2002, ISBN 7-80580-887-2, is excellent, but
difficult to find outside of China.
Photographs, web page, and text by Carol