Myself and a group of my peers enjoyed a workshop where we learned how to mould, glaze and decorate Chinese rice bowls. I think it’s safe to say that we all had great fun making them.
Firstly to make the porcelain the Chinese combined kaolin, feldspar and sand to make the body. Then the mixture was heated in a kiln to very high temperatures around 2,000F. This would cause the materials to react to form a glass phase that gives porcelain its strength and translucency.
The type of dishes we made were of the red and blue variation, also more commonly known as the blue and white style porcelain. The Chinese describe the raw materials that make up their porcelain as; blood, flesh and bone. After the raw materials are selected and the desired amounts weighed, they go through a series of preparation steps. First, they are crushed and purified. Next, they are mixed together before being subjected to one of four forming processes—soft plastic forming, stiff plastic forming, pressing, or casting; the choice depends upon the type of ware being produced. After the porcelain has been formed, it is subjected to a final purification process, bisque-firing, before being glazed. Glaze is a layer of decorative glass applied to and fired onto a ceramic body. The final manufacturing phase is firing, a heating step that takes place in a type of oven called a kiln.