Spring 2015: Chinese Ceramics- Blackware from the Late Neolithic period 2800-2500 BCE

As part of my coursework this Spring, we are researching Chinese Ceramics. One assignment is collecting ideas from our research by choosing pieces that relate to our work and writing about them.  For this first entry, I have chosen Blackware from the Shandong province in Northern China.


During the Late Neolithic period, this Blackware became prominent for ceremonial purposes. The black and grey surfaces were burnished shiny before firing and blackened by heavy reduction or smothering in combustibles.  The firing process also caused iron in the clay to flux, making the clay body exceptionally strong.

These surfaces, appearing weathered but still smooth and strong, are very appealing to me. The subtle variations and almost waxy finish are something I would love to achieve in my work, in some way.  Layering underglazes has been somewhat effective so far, but the subtlety of the layering is not quite what I am after.  I look forward to possible experiments with reduction and cold finishes to try and replicate some of the warmth of these pieces.

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