« 上一页继续 »
them upon a lathe as you may see a man turn bowls and other things in wood. But the potter cannot make the handles of cups and jugs, or the spout of a tea-pot, upon his wheel, or broad and flat things, such as plates and dishes. In order to make all these things, the lump of clay is placed upon a mould or shape, made of plaster, and the clay is pressed down on the mould till it takes the right shape. The handles and spouts are fastened to the cups, and jugs, and tea-pots, to which they belong, with a little slip.
And now all these things, which are still damp and soft, must be baked: they are put inside large vessels made of fire-clay-a kind of earth which will bear very great heat-and then they are carried to the biscuit-kiln. This is a large lofty oven, surrounded on all sides by fires, which soon make everything in it red-hot. The earthenware is kept in this fierce heat for forty or fifty hours, by which time it is as dry as can be, and looks like a mixture of earth and glass, and now it takes the name of biscuit.
But it is not yet fit for us to use; it must be glazed, that is, covered all over with a mixture of lead and salt, which will give it that smooth polish which you see on clean plates and dishes. Without the glazing, earthenware would not last so long, and it would not be nearly so easy to keep it clean. So a quantity of glaze is poured into a trough, and every article is dipped into it; then they all go once more into an oven, but not so hot a one as the biscuit-kiln: they come out of this all bright and glossy and ready for use.
But this is all white ware, and we use as much
coloured earthenware, and even more, than plain white; so when the ware is to be ornamented with patterns in blue and white, or other colours, that must be done before it is glazed. Supposing it is to be blue and white, which is the colour of most of our plates and jugs, the pattern is drawn with blue paint upon very thin tough paper, and the paper is rubbed over the ware till the pattern comes off upon it. The ware is washed in water directly, so that all the paper comes away in little bits, but the pattern remains painted on the plate or jug.
THE finest kinds of ware are often gilded, or adorned with beautiful little paintings, and then the gold and the colours are put on with a pencil of camels' hair. People who can draw very well are employed to do this. The finest ware we call porcelain, or (very often) china, for it used to be all brought from China. No one knew then that the right kind of clay for making it could be found in any other country; but at last it was found out that there was some in France, and England, and other parts of Europe.
English porcelain clay comes from Cornwall, which is, you know, the south-western corner of England. It was a very long time before people found out how to make such pretty earthenware as we have now, even from the common kinds of clay. They used to make red earthen pans and flower-pots, and coarse brown ware, and yellow ware, but it was only
by little and little that they found out how to make it white, or how to make it so glossy, and to colour it in so many pretty patterns. These things were found out by persons who paid great attention to little things, and thought about everything that they Even children may find out some useful things, and be very helpful to other people if they will pay attention to what they see.
A long while ago, the potters could not glaze their ware nearly so well: they had found out that they must use lead to do it, but they did not know that salt ought to be used too. It happened one day, that a woman was boiling some brine to cure pork with: the brine was in an earthen pot, and some of it boiled over and ran down the sides; when it grew cold, the outside of the pot, wherever the brine had run over it looked bright and glassy. A potter who lived very near, heard of it and went to look at the pot, he thought directly that salt would surely glaze his earthenware too. So he went home and tried this new sort of glazing, and he succeeded so well that all the potters in the neighbourhood began to use salt.
Another potter, who was famous for looking at things very carefully, found out how to make fine white ware, which nobody in England had ever been able to do before. This potter was taking a long journey on horseback, when he saw that the eyes of his horse were becoming very weak, and he was afraid the poor animal would go blind. He stopped, therefore, on his way to see what could be done, and the hostler at the inn said he thought he could cure the horse. He burned a flint-stone till it was red-hot, then he pounded it into fine dust, and
blew a little of the dust into the horse's eyes, and this soon made them well again. But the potter, who had carefully watched everything that was done, saw that the burnt flint had become quite white, and that it was very easy to grind it into powder. He also saw that when this powder had been put into the horse's eyes, and been wetted with the moisture that was in them, it looked like clay, and this made him think that if he were to burn flints and grind them, and` mix them with the clay of which he made his earthenware, he should have it of a fine white colour. It turned out just as he thought; and his wares were so good, and of so fine a colour, that people preferred them to all that they had before; and so the potters learned to mix flint with their clay.
Our chief potteries are in Staffordshire; but there are also many potteries in other parts of England.
SONG OF THE GOLDFINCH.
I SING to my mate on her mossy nest
And I strive to gladden her anxious breast
For she feels no fear
When I am near;
And oh! as each soothing note I try,
And I sing to Him, in my thankful mirth,
And sent me to fly o'er the teeming earth,
A bar of gold,
And sent me to show, when all was done,
I fled far and wide, rejoicing and free,
For the tall fir's cone,
And the thistledown,
And the groundsel mean, with its feathered seed, All wait in their turn to supply my need.
Thus merry within the chestnut grove
To Him my voice I raise;
And full in the depth of its thankful love
I am in his sight;
And all day long his love's display'd
O'er the poor little bird his hand has made.
There is one too that watches for thee, my child, As stretch'd in sleep you lie;
And follows by day your motions wild
With love's unwearied eye.
Oh! soothe her care;
For a daily prayer
Goes up from that anxious mother's breast,