Thursday, August 12, 2010

So the long awaited answer to my question on July 21. What collapsed the pottery industry in the late 1700's?

Well, let me try and give you a visual reference. Pretend it's 1725. You're in the local public house drinking posset with your business associates. Posset was a mixed drink made of milk, egg, wine (usually sack), and spices. You are drinking out of small clay cups and the posset is being served out of a punch bowl.

Pretend it's 1825. You're in the same public house drinking with your business associates, but there is more agriculture now in the USA, so there is more beer, ale, and whiskey. What are you drinking out of? Glass mugs, and you are being served out of glass pitchers.

Glass was cheaper to produce and did not require as much skilled labor. Glass bottles and jars ended the neighborhood potter. Potter then turned more and more to decorative ware. It was more about style than function.

Pottery has continued alternating between style and function. In the pottery world, potters often will define themselves as either functional potters or art potters. Functional potters specialize in mugs, plates, bowls, and tableware. Art potters make scultpture and are more interested in surface decoration. Art potters, in the last twenty years or so, are much more interested china painting than functional potters. One of the great books out there right now that blends the pottery world and the china painting world is China Paint and Overglaze by Paul Lewing. I highly recommend it.