World Ceramics: How was it made?

The Industrial Revolution came later to Sweden than it did to England. The first land-based steam engine was installed in Sweden in 1807, allowing pottery wheels that were driven by belts and powered by steam engines to greatly increase the efficiency of ceramic production.

Gustavsberg was one of only two manufacturers of porcelain in Sweden in the nineteenth century. In the eighteenth century, most porcelain goods were imported from China. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, Swedish factories were producing quality porcelains using varying amounts of a white clay called KAOLIN, the most essential ingredient.

Although many pieces were made in molds, vases and jars were thrown on a potter's wheel. To perfect the final shape, the potter held a wood or porcelain mold against the inside of the jar while following the outside with his other hand as it turned on the wheel. Faults were smoothed out on a turning LATHE after the piece was partially dry. When completely dry, it was polished, placed in a SAGGER (a protective clay box), and fired in a kiln. The temperature for firing varied with the quality of the porcelain; the higher the temperature, the greater the porcelain's strength. After the first firing, the jar was GLAZED according to the designer's plan, and then fired a second time. Some designs were mass produced using stencils or templates. Glaze "recipes" were developed to produce consistent, specific colors. The Gustavsberg factory became famous for the matte green glaze and SGRAFFITO decoration found on this covered jar. Sgraffito is achieved by overlaying the clay body with a thin layer of glaze or SLIP in a contrasting or darker color; then the overlayer is partially scraped away to reveal the color beneath. When the object is fired, the pattern is slightly raised from the surface. This emphasizes the decoration by outlining the forms. In this jar, the green color was the second layer, the overlayer, and what was scraped away reveals the "background" of the lighter first layer.  


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