The term “ceramics” refers to objects that are made from clay then fired in a kiln, and there are three main types of ceramics, which are:
- Earthenware – Earthenware is fired at relatively low temperatures, and objects are prone to staining, due to a porous finish. Earthenware can be glazed or unglazed.
- Stoneware – Fired at temperatures around 1200°C, stoneware varies in colour from grey to red and can be glazed or unglazed.
- Porcelain – White in colour, porcelain is fired at very high temperatures, with a glassy appearance, and it is non-porous. There are two variations of porcelain – hard paste and soft paste. While the hard paste is referred to as ‘true porcelain’, a soft paste is slightly softer and a little porous. Most quality antique items are made from true porcelain, which is the strongest type and also the hardest. It is, however, possible to create very delicate items using true porcelain.
One should always handle ceramics with the utmost care, as these items are very delicate and can break easily. It is important to support the weight of a ceramic object when holding it. And avoid holding it on any of its protruding section. Such as a spout or handle, as these might break if they support the entire weight of the piece. Handling ceramics without wearing gloves can leave a print on the glazed surface, which could damage the delicate surface, so wearing gloves when handling ceramics is advised.
It is important to consider carefully how exactly you are going to clean the item in question before you actually do anything. Examine the piece in good light to see if there are any potential issues. And remember that you are not trying to make the item spotlessly clean; there might be stains that cannot be removed, which also add to the appeal. If you are looking to add to your ceramics collection, look for antique dealers online that specialize in fine porcelain items, who would have an extensive collection of fine pieces from all periods.
Generally speaking, ceramics can tolerate a wide range of environments. Although high levels of humidity should be avoided, as this can affect the glazing. You should avoid leaving ceramics in direct sunlight. As this can also affect the glazing, causing it to fade with time. Display cabinets are ideal for ceramics but make sure no two items are touching, and ceramics do not respond well to vibration. Although standing in a display cabinet on neoprene rubber pieces can greatly reduce vibration to an acceptable level.
If you would like to add to your ceramics collection, the best place to start your quest for new pieces is with an online search. Which will put you in touch with an online antique dealer. And by looking for one that specializes in ceramics, you will be able to view a wide range of quality items at affordable prices.
If you have some old porcelain pieces that you would like appraised, your local antique dealer would be happy to give you his professional opinion. And he can also show you correct handling procedures.
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