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Baker Publishing.

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 The story of Wedgwood really begins with the Story of Jesus, which is a work of fiction I wrote, or rather sketched out in my head and submitted by way of synopsis to Penguin, but had rejected by teh publishers. I'm not sure whether it was because the rough draft was such a mess, or because they disliked the idea of a story ike that being written in the first person.

What followed was accusations by a certain government paid health worker, a doctor called Mark Lawrence, who accused me of being mentally ill because he thought I had told him I believed I was Jesus, i.e. I beileve I am Jesus. This is not teh case. My name is Malclm, Baker, and I know who my parents are so it is not that I believe I am someone who I am not, but I think the subtle distinction was lost on the doctor, and what followed was an attempt, innitiated by my neighbours on some pretext that they were afraid of me, to detain me under the Mental Health Act. This was ironic because it as not the first such attempt, and that one was fully investigated and the medical authorities made it quite clear to the court that I was not at that time mentally ill, and even though they had the right to examine me without my permission, they had found nothing wrong which could be called insanity or delusional as I could function and communicate perfectly adequately. What they needed and did not have was evidence of law breaking or being a physical threat to myself or other people.

Tauranga Hospital lost their case in a court decision, but unfortunately that was not the case with respect to my Uncle Buster, and Craig Roebuck at New Zealand Guardian Trust who had been appointed property manager, effectively stripping me of all my legal rights, and putting them in control of my money which was, and still is invested with them. That is quite a long story in itself.

What I know about the Willow Pattern story is quite limited, but it may be enough to assist other people who are scholars of Chinese history.


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Chinese ceramic ware shows a continuous development since the pre-dynastic periods, and is one of the most significant forms of Chinese art. China is richly endowed with the raw materials needed for making ceramics. The first types of ceramics were made during the Palaeolithic era. Chinese Ceramics range from construction materials such as bricks and tiles, to hand-built pottery vessels fired in bonfires or kilns, to the sophisticated Chinese porcelain wares made for the imperial court. China had a monopoly on porcelain production until relatively recently, and porcelain is also often called "china" in English.

Ming dynasty, 1368-1644

The Ming Dynasty saw an extraordinary period of innovation in ceramic manufacture. Kilns investigated new techniques in design and shapes, showing a predilection for colour and painted design, and an openness to foreign forms.[10] The Yongle Emperor (1402–24) was especially curious about other countries (as evidenced by his support of the eunuch Zheng He's extended exploration of the Indian Ocean), and enjoyed unusual shapes, many inspired by Islamic metalwork,[11][12][13] During the Xuande reign (1425–35), a technical refinement was introduced in the preparation of the cobalt used for underglaze blue decoration. Prior to this the cobalt had been brilliant in colour, but with a tendency to bleed in firing; by adding a manganese the colour was duller, but the line crisper. Xuande porcelain is now considered among the finest of all Ming output.[14] Enameled decoration (such as the one at left) was perfected under the Chenghua Emperor (1464–87), and greatly prized by later collectors.[15] Indeed by the late sixteenth century, Chenghua and Xuande era works – especially wine cups[16] – had grown so much in popularity, that their prices nearly matched genuine antique wares of Song or even older. This esteem for relatively recent ceramics excited much scorn on the part of literati scholars (such as Wen Zhenheng, Tu Long, and Gao Lian, who is cited below); these men fancied themselves arbiters of taste and found the painted aesthetic 'vulgar.'[17][18]

In addition to these decorative innovations, the late Ming period underwent a dramatic shift towards a market economy,[19] exporting porcelain around the world on an unprecedented scale. Thus aside from supplying porcelain for domestic use, the kilns at Jingdezhen became the main production centre for large-scale porcelain exports to Europe starting with the reign of the Wanli Emperor (1572–1620). By this time, kaolin and pottery stone were mixed in about equal proportions. Kaolin produced wares of great strength when added to the paste; it also enhanced the whiteness of the body - a trait that became a much sought after property, especially when form blue-and-white wares grew in popularity. Pottery stone could be fired at a lower temperature (1250 °C) than paste mixed with kaolin, which required 1350 °C. These sorts of variations were important to keep in mind because the large southern egg-shaped kiln varied greatly in temperature. Near the firebox it was hottest; near the chimney, at the opposite end of the kiln, it was cooler.

Qing Dynasty 1644-1911

Primary source material on Qing Dynasty porcelain is available from both foreign residents and domestic authors. Two letters written by Père Francois Xavier d'Entrecolles, a Jesuit missionary and industrial spy who lived and worked in Jingdezhen in the early eighteenth century, described in detail manufacturing of porcelain in the city.[20] In his first letter dated 1712, d'Entrecolles described the way in which pottery stones were crushed, refined and formed into little white bricks, known in Chinese as petuntse. He then went on to describe the refining of china clay kaolin along with the developmental stages of glazing and firing. He explained his motives:

Nothing but my curiosity could ever have prompted me to such researches, but it appears to me that a minute description of all that concerns this kind of work might, be useful in Europe.

In 1743, during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, Tang Ying, the imperial supervisor in the city produced a memoir entitled "Twenty illustrations of the manufacture of porcelain." Unfortunately, the original illustrations have been lost, but the text of the memoir is still accessible.[21]

Ming Dynasty plate depicting dragons, in the classic blue on white

Wedgwood and the North Staffordshire Potteries

From the 17th century, Stoke-on-Trent in North Staffordshire emerged as a major centre of pottery making.[20] Important contributions to the development of the industry were made by the firms of Wedgwood, Spode, Royal Doulton and Minton.

The local presence of abundant supplies of coal and suitable clay for earthenware production led to the early but at first limited development of the local pottery industry. The construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal allowed the easy transportation of china clay from Cornwall together with other materials and facilitated the production of creamware and bone china. Other production centres had a lead in the production of high quality wares but the preeminence of North Staffordshire was brought about by methodical and detailed research and a willingness to experiment carried out over many years, initially by one man, Josiah Wedgwood. His lead was followed by other local potters, scientists and engineers.

Wedgwood is credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. His work was of very high quality: when visiting his workshop, if he saw an offending vessel that failed to meet with his standards, he would smash it with his stick, exclaiming, "This will not do for Josiah Wedgwood!" He was keenly interested in the scientific advances of his day and it was this interest that underpinned his adoption of its approach and methods to revolutionize the quality of his pottery. His unique glazes began to distinguish his wares from anything else on the market. His matt finish jasperware in two colours was highly suitable for the Neoclassicism of the end of the century, imitating the effects of Ancient Roman carved gemstone cameos like the Gemma Augustea, or the cameo glass Portland Vase, of which Wedgwood produced copies.

He also is credited with perfecting transfer-printing, first developed in England about 1750. By the end of the century this had largely replaced hand-painting for complex designs, except at the luxury end of the market, and the vast majority of the world's decorated pottery uses versions of the technique to the present day.

Stoke-on-Trent's supremacy in pottery manufacture nurtured and attracted a large number of ceramic artists including Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Lorna Bailey, Charlotte Rhead, Frederick Hurten Rhead and Jabez Vodre
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) blue-and-white porcelain dish from the reign of the Jiajing Emperor (1521-1567 AD). Nanjing Museum collections.



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