Monday, 6 October 2014

The Art Of Making Porcelain?




Some twenty years ago I read in an industrial or technology magazine that potters in old China used to urinate in their porcelain mass in order to achieve higher level of elasticity of porcelain.

Unfortunately I cannot name the source of this discovery any more. All I can remember is that it was a serious scientific technology magazine.

The art of making porcelain clay was one of the best treasured secrets of the old China. It was only in 18th century that the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger accidentally discovered porcelain – the white gold. Once the West had the recipe, many porcelain manufactories were established under the protection of different European monarchies.

Even though western manufactories knew the secret of making porcelain clay, European porcelain was never as elegant and with that certain vitality possessed by the old Chinese porcelain. Here, one can say that the Chinese mastered the art of making porcelain for many centuries before the Europeans did and because of this long tradition they made better-quality porcelain.

However, it was just a few decades ago that modern technology solved the ancient mystery: the Chinese used to urinate in their porcelain batch.

According to the magazine, the crystals of the ammoniac from the urine produced a favourable chemical reaction with the feldspar, kaolin and quartz which gave the porcelain more elasticity.  

So, this was the only time that I read about this phenomenal discovery. None of the potters or ceramic artists to whom I talked about it have ever heard about it.

Potters can have some strange biases. Once I read that there was a potter who had a dog whom he loved very much. When the dog died he cremated the dog and made the glaze out of his ashes with which he glazed a mug which he uses every day to drink his morning coffee. Even though this may seem macabre to some people, I am OK with it.  However, I still haven’t tried this ammoniac experiment with porcelain.

Note: I can feel a certain relief from all the friends and customers who ever bought any porcelain from me.

I can imagine that you will never look at your old China with the same eyes again. So, are there any crazy potters who would try this crazy pee experiment?


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