ceramics . pottery at Craft NSW
fire and clay
'How to make a good impression' is not a concern usually associated with prehistoric man, but he probably thought something like that when he first stuck his thumb into clay and when he looked for something to fill the holes in his woven baskets and began to fashion small pottery idols.
Clay fitted the bill, sticky and plastic when wet, rock hard when dried in the sun. Further properties were discovered when he observed the way fire transformed clay. Now it held water without falling to pieces and cooking vessels could be produced.
Then, developments in glass making probably led to glaze surfaces on pots, initially as decoration rather than a functional addition.
superior kiln technology
The opening of trade routes between east and west and the migration of potters brought further advances. The Chinese, with superior kiln technology and the availability of natural materials which could withstand higher temperatures, produced clay bodies with a strong bond between clay and glaze.
This made the ware extremely hard and durable. The Chinese, were also masters of high temperature glazes, the likes of which the West had never seen.
In particular, porcelain was very much admired by the elite of Europe, who were prepared to pay a fortune to build up porcelain collections.
In an attempt to emulate the Chinese, tin glazed earthenware evolved throughout Europe. It was, however, mechanically much weaker than porcelain.
handmade has held out . australian ceramics
But in Australia 'handmade' has held out. As Japanese and Chinese influences filtered down through the work of the British Arts and Crafts movement, potters in Australia widened their horizons, resulting in a very diverse range of work, the common characteristic being the material, clay, still perfect for the job.