Fine pot­tery re­made af­ter an ab­sence of 200 years

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS - AMELIA GREEN news­desk@waleson­

EX­PERTS have man­aged to recre­ate a his­toric porce­lain last made 200 years ago.

A team of ce­ram­i­cists and ex­perts at the Nant­garw China Works Mu­seum have spent the past six months try­ing to recre­ate the fa­mous Nant­garw porce­lain.

To many, it is re­garded as the finest porce­lain ever made.

Nant­garw porce­lain was in­vented by Wil­liam Billings­ley in 1813. It was revered as be­ing the whitest, finest grained and most translu­cent porce­lain made.

But there were dif­fi­cul­ties in cre­at­ing it and the fac­tory closed four years af­ter pro­duc­tion.

Orig­i­nal pieces of Nant­garw porce­lain are now highly col­lectible with some items chang­ing hands for thou­sands of pounds.

Ex­perts have spent six months us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of me­thod­i­cal his­toric re­search, foren­sic anal­y­sis of shards and ex­per­i­ments to recre­ate the orig­i­nal recipe.

They have used ex­per­tise from sev­eral uni­ver­si­ties, in­dus­trial chemists, cur­rent man­u­fac­tur­ers of porce­lains as well as spe­cial­ist sculp­tors, mould-mak­ers and slip cast­ers.

Project man­ager Charles Fountain said: “No one has made a porce­lain like this for the best part of 200 years so we have had to adapt and de­velop new tech­niques both to cre­ate it but also to suc­cess­fully mould, slip cast and fire the new work.

“The new porce­lain is vis­ually iden­ti­cal to the orig­i­nal and shows the same ex­cep­tional translu­cency.

“Quite frankly it is beau­ti­ful, to­tally unique and un­like any other ce­ramic body avail­able to­day.”

How­ell Edwards, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor of Molec­u­lar Spec­troscopy at the Univer­sity of Brad­ford said that his ex­am­i­na­tion has shown that the orig­i­nal and the new Nant­garw porce­lain are “al­most iden­ti­cal”.

Ceram­i­cist Sally Stub­bings has led the de­vel­op­ment of the porce­lain.

She said: “We have learned a great deal more about the porce­lain and now un­der­stand the dif­fi­cul­ties they had in fir­ing this ce­ramic body in the early 19th Cen­tury.

“Many of their prob­lems cen­tred around not be­ing able to have pre­cise con­trol of the heat and tem­per­a­ture in the early bot­tle kilns.

“Us­ing mod­ern elec­tric kilns we have dis­cov­ered that even a few de­grees dif­fer­ence in tem­per­a­ture can have a huge ef­fect on the way the porce­lain be­haves.”

The project has been funded through a Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Grant from the Arts Coun­cil of Wales.

They have also raised £16,000 through a Crowd­fund­ing cam­paign.

The first items made from the porce­lain are be­ing made as one of the re­wards for donors to the crowd­fund­ing.

Ex­am­ples of the new porce­lain can be seen in a small ex­hi­bi­tion at Nant­garw China Works Mu­seum, on Tyla Gwyn.

It is hoped that artists can then be com­mis­sioned to cre­ate pieces for a fu­ture ex­hi­bi­tion.

A team work­ing at Nant­garw China Works Mu­seum has recre­ated the recipe for the fa­mous Nant­garw porce­lain, last made 200 years ago

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