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Evolution of Ceramics

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

Unravel the history of ceramics and how buonaforma has re-defined what's possible with the ancient art.

The art of ceramics is nothing new, in fact, the first evidence of ceramics is dated all the way back to 28,000 BCE. From the first firing to accidentally making glass out of molten sand, ceramics have evolved and morphed into the luxury art we see today.

The ceramic journey starts with figurines made for ceremonial purposes during the Paleolithic period in a nomadic settlement in Czech Republic. These pieces were made out of a mixture of water and clay and were fired in a simple kiln in the ground. Although these figurines are not considered pottery, they were a major stepping stone in ceramic technology.

The use and production of ceramics really took off in the Neolithic era. People settled in nomadic areas of Asia found that ceramics were the perfect vessels for storing water and food. They also started making tiles and bricks. These pieces were fired at low temperatures with minimal decoration. Most pottery was either kept in its natural state or decorated with minimal geometric decorations. These types of ceramics are classified as earthenware.

Real advancements in ceramics did not start until 3,500 BCE. Here the Mesopotamians and Egyptians started crafting out of glass. Glazes for pottery also started to develop. This also marked the beginning of the Bronze Age. Civilizations started smelting copper in areas in the Middle East. These civilizations also started adding tin to copper to create bronze, which was more durable and sufficient for weaponry. Although metal started making its way into the material scene, it would not be incorporated into ceramics till much later.

A notable advancement in ceramic technology was the invention of the wheel. This spurred manufacturing advancements in Egypt. They started building small scale factories to produce vessels and bottles that could hold grains, ointments, and other materials.

To kick off the 15th century, Europe developed a kiln, or blast furnace, that could reach even higher temperatures at 1,500 ℃. Further kiln advancements were made in the 16th century by the Chinese. Paired with kilns that could reach higher temperatures, kaolin clay gave birth to porcelain. Porcelain spread like wildfire through the Silk Road, reaching Islamic countries and Europe. As technology and materials advanced into refractories, ceramics kick-started the Industrial Revolution.

Today ceramics have been attributed to many advancements in material technology. The small religious figurine of nomads made way for electronic, medical, automotive, and space technology that we often take for granted today. By combining old practices with the new we have been able to develop nanotechnology essential in today’s world.

Although ceramics may seem like a nostalgic memory of the past, buonaforma is combining ancient art with new technology to create functional luxury art pieces. buonaforma incorporates 3D into their ceramic process to ensure a sound and functional piece. We combine this technique with the old technology of slip (a slurry mixture of clay and water). Then the piece is bisque fired in a kiln and then glazed fired. Combining the old with the new creates a piece that radiates contemporary while rooted in tradition.

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