Chinese Porcelain

You’ve seen blue and white china around all of your life, at restaurants, grandma’s house, where ever. It’s often called “Willow Pattern”.   I’ve always loved the blue color.  But I
never knew there was so much more to the story.  This is the kind of thing your Grandmother had in a glass-fronted cabinet or on the mantel. Aishin Romance 1

Welcome to the 21st century.

Never Apart   After I saw some of the contemporary look of Chinese Porcelain my curiosity was sparked.
How did it get from “there” to “here”.
So here’s a very brief history.

I’ve always wanted to know Why Blue? Sure, I love the color and Cobalt Blue is a wonderful color to use as a decorating accent (or all over for that matter), but where did “Willow pattern” and all the rest come from? And why is Jingdezhen called the porcelain capital of China?

It seemed logical that the manufacturing of anything would begin with the raw materials. So…

They start with Kaolinite, a fine white clay, and the name is derived from Kao-ling or Gaoling, a village near Jingdezhen. (This is the same stuff they once used in Kaopectate. Is that weird!?) Jingdezhen’s porcelain has been famous not only in China but also internationally for being “as thin as paper, as white as jade, as bright as a mirror, and as sound as a bell”.

The development of Cobalt blue decorations was due to the combination of Chinese techniques and Islamic trade. Cobalt blue pigments were excavated from local mines in central Persia from the 9th century, and then were exported as a raw material to China. The blue and white designs on what we call ‘china’ were made possible by the Cobalt from Persia (called Huihui qing, “Islamic blue”), combined with the translucent white quality of Chinese porcelain. In the early 14th century mass-production of fine, translucent, blue and white porcelain started at Jingdezhen.

(My apologies to the original authors. Most of this was lifted from Wikipedia and slightly modified for use here.) 

Porcelain production in Jingdezhen today.

So that’s your brief history. But there’s more to this story.

Be a Child

New Toys. 

I was fortunate enough to receive some very cool toys for Christmas. Never underestimate the value of toys to a grown-up.

One of the biggest challenges I find in gift giving is to find good toys. I need to entertain the nieces and nephews, ages 21 to 4, and of course, my husband. But this challenge is also a gift to me. I get to exercise my inner child, to remember what I would like. The kids need stocking stuffers and nice puzzles have gotten to be a staple, lovely carved wood or intricate wire. They cover the age range nicely. My husband is tougher. What to get for an engineer! But there are places like Edmund’s Scientific with some wonderful techie toys, so that’s getting easier.

I don’t usually buy toys for myself. But as an artist I’m constantly looking for new ways to expand and grow my art. This year I received some gifts that really make my heart sing. My inner child was thrilled with a beading loom. It’s not big or fancy but it’s full of potential. I had to sit down right away and create a simple bracelet. I’ve done some others with needle weaving but I really look forward to seeing how far this more simple method will go. You’ll be seeing things developed from this showing up with runes and metaphysical designs soon (I hope).

But the real treasure is something totally new that I’ve never tried before, a Sumi-e set, Oriental brush and ink painting. I’ve always loved this kind of work, almost anything of Oriental art. It’s going to take a lot of study and learning a whole new range of skills. I’ll show you some pictures as soon as I’ve had a chance to play with it. (Beading was more instant gratification.) But this is the most exciting thing about a new toy, no matter what your age. It’s the challenge that isn’t work, learning to do something different and enriching with no pressure.

So think about that next time you’re faced with the challenge of conjuring up your inner child. Think back to the fun of exploring something you didn’t know. Think about how cool it was to learn about finger-paints or Silly Putty. Let yourself be a child again and buying for children gets a lot easier!