CERAMICS. The fictile art; the art of the potter. The word ceramics is derived from the Greek keramos, the potter's clay. It is often spelled keramics following the Greek spelling direct, instead of taking the word from the French dr-antique. The subject cer amics can be primarily divided into two basic divisions: (1) the technique; (2) the product. The essential features of the technique are the selection and preparation of the clay; the ma nipulation of a lump of the clay into its de sired form: by hand unaided (as done by primitive peoples), by °throwing° on the pot ter's wheel, by molding soft clay in a form or mold. And, lastly, the baking of the clay in its acquired form either in the sun or in an oven. Formerly, the entire product of the pot ter was included in the term °pottery.° Among experts, recently, it has become usual to divide all the wares into two classes, ((pot tery° and "porcelain.° In this system of the connoisseur's and collector's nomenclature the term apottery° includes all classes of earthen ware and stoneware. By this method we bring the different earthenware products, terra cotta, majolica, faience, Delft, etc., together with stoneware under one generic class — pottery. Additional refinements to the crude primitive fictile ware are glaze and decoration.
Technical Terms.— A few of the technical terms used for the above processes in produc tion may be here concisely defined as follows: Paste (French pate) is the material of which the fictile ware is constructed; it is often termed body. The bare body baked is termed biscuit. Glaze is the glassy coating given to the outer or inner surface of the ware. Paste or body may he either "hard" or °soft,* the former term indicating that it is not easily scratched with a steel point, and the term soft implies that the metal point, or a file, easily abrades the surface. Glaze may be either translucent or opaque. The former is a kind of glass (silicate of soda or potash), usually, or is produced by throwing table salt (chloride of sodium) into the hot oven when it creates a chemical action on the surface of the in candescent clay, producing "salt glaze?' The addition of oxide of lead to the silicate of soda or potash produces a more brilliant and easier fusible, but softer, glaze (plumbiferous or lead glaze). By adding oxide of tin to the translu cent glaze material, it becomes white and opaque (stanniferous glaze). Earthenware has a porous body which is permeated by liquids; this defect may be corrected by glazing or by dipping into a fine liquid clay, termed slip or engobe, and then baked. By adding certain metallic oxides (as coloring matter) ground with fusible glasses a colored glaze or pigment is produced. When rendered opaque with tin oxide, this vitrifiable composition is termed enamel, and is used as a glaze or as a medium for painted decoration to be fused to the sur face of the ware in the oven. When a glaze, through faulty firing or defective composition, cracks into numerous parts divided by crevices it is termed crazed. When the same effect is caused intentionally, the term crackle is used. Crazed glaze is liable to keep peeling off from time to time, also to the number of fissures. Crackle .is a permanent effect and
considered decorative. Ware decorated with enamel coating is called faience, or, quite commonly, majolica. The latter term, however, correctly belongs to the enamel art ware, de rived from old Arabic and. Moorish methods, made in Italy. (See MAyoucA). Some small, delicate low relief decoration is done by dry ing liquid clay in a mold or form, or by stamp ing; when well set it is applied by hand to the body of the ware, and is known as sprigging.
History.— Proof of the great antiquity of the potter s art is found in the 'fact that fine, gracefully formed fictile ware was produced in Egypt before the potter's wheel was known, some pieces being painted by hand. The process of covering clay vessels with hard glass glaze was used in the time of Egypt's first historic king, Mena, over 7,000 years before Christ. In 1500 a.c. the Nile potters used glazes of seven different colors, greenish-blue predomi nating. The excavations at Nineveh brought to light wall-tiles having polychrome enamel coat ing. Cyprus was a connecting link between Egypt and East Asia, and we, accordingly, find Cypriote clay vessels of grayish yellow with brown paintings, some with Egyptian tenden cies, others of Grecian or East Asiatic styles. Excavating the hill of Hissarlik (ancient Troy), Schliemann and others discovered clay vessels of a cultured people. Best known of ancient fictile wares are the beautifully formed and decorated Greek vases (long called erroneously Etruscan) of terra cotta coated with thin black polished glaze. The Arretine ware, made from the read earth of Arretium, was highly prized by the Romans. In the East, clever ceramic work was done by the ancient Chaldeans, As syrians and Persians, as their lovely hand painted enamel tiles testify. But in the Far East the Chinese had arrived very early at a quite advanced stage of perfection of the ceramic art. The earliest pieces we know of date from the Han period (206 B.C. — 220 A.D.) with early earthenware celadon (see CHINESE CERAMICS) attempting imitation of their beloved Jade stone, advancing to the discovery of stoneware, then porcelain (see PORCELAIN) in the early Ming dynasty (middle 14th century A.D.). The wide range of dis covery and invention in ceramics of the ancient Chinese is ever a mattermarveled at by Western connoisseurs, with their lovely crackle, flambe (transmutation), self-colors and numerous other glaze effects; their delicate egg-shell ware, much admired blue-and-white, Kang-Hsi polychrome, highly decorative motifs of symbolism and mythology; which latter ware represents the bulk of the pieces in our private collections and museum exhibits. These at tractive wares of the royal Chin-te-chen ovens have been actively bid for by the wealthy Westerners. The opening up of railroads in republican China has brought to light great quantities of ancient ceramic pieces of great beauty that were reposing many centuries in graves. Their presence in the markets has revolutionized the aims of the wealthy collec tors, and ancient celadon is having its previous mysteries solved.