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Chinese porcelains were introduced to Europe in the fourteenth century. They were viewed as objects of great rarity and luxury. In the fifteenth and sixteenth century, Chinese porcelains were mounted in gilt and silver to emphasize their preciousness. By the end of the sixteenth century, Chinese potters began to produce objects meant only for export to the West.
However this changed when Europe soon began producing their own porcelain. However unlike the “hard paste porcelain” produced in China, the porcelain in Europe is known as “soft-paste porcelain”. Experimenters in Europe used a variety of materials to produce a substance that was hard, white and translucent as they lacked the material kaolin which could only be found in China. They eventually developed soft paste porcelain by using mixtures of fine clay and glass like substances. Unlike the hard paste porcelain, these materials melt at high temperatures. Thus, soft paste porcelain is fired at lower temperatures, resulting in it being unable to vitrify- meaning it still remains somewhat porous. Breaking a piece of soft-paste porcelain reveals a grainy body covered with a glassy layer of glaze. On the other hand, hard-paste porcelain, has always been the model and ideal of porcelain makers.
It was first developed by the Chinese from kaolin and petuntse. Hard-paste porcelain resists melting far better than other kinds of porcelain. For this reason, it can be fired at higher temperatures. These hot temperatures cause the body and the glaze to become one. When hard-paste porcelain is broken, it is impossible to distinguish the body from the glaze. The proportions of kaolin and petuntse in hard-paste porcelain may vary.
The porcelain is said to be severe if the percentage of kaolin is high, and mild if the percentage of kaolin is low. Most collectors of porcelain prefer mild porcelain because of its mellow, satiny appearance. In comparison, severe porcelain may seem harsh and cold. Although soft-paste porcelain was invented in imitation of true porcelain, it has merits of its own. Soft-paste porcelain has a creamy tone which some people may prefer over the pure white colour of hard-paste porcelain. In addition, the colours used to decorate it merge with the glaze to produce a soft, silky effect that appeals to many collectors.

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