Fine china made from clay has long been considered a form of art even though it is used for eating. The translucence of the final product makes a set of dishes a possession that has a special place in many households. While clay dish sets were originally made by hand, modern manufacturers use injection into clay molds to meet demand for this beautiful substance. An entire set of dishes can be created with one set of molds. This allows manufacturers a fast turnaround time to produce their wares and keep them affordable.
When a dish set is made with the mold injection process, it produces a set of pieces that are matched in form and looks. The dried pieces of clay come out blank and have no exterior decoration on them. They are then fired in a kiln to form bisque pieces. This begins the hardening process and turns the clay into china. At this point, some manufacturers decorate sets with their own patterns. Other manufacturers leave the pieces blank. Final glazing is added to each piece and they are fired once more in a kiln. Firing the glaze provides the china with a glassy coating that seals it on the inside and protects it on the outside.
Manufacturers that include a decorating process have ready to sell sets of bone china. These are generally shipped to retail outlets. When manufacturers do not decorate their china pieces it is because they are either holding them for custom orders or the pieces will be offered as plain English fine bone china sets. Once the pieces are sold and the pattern is chosen, screen printed transfers are applied to the china. The customer receives their beautiful plates with their choice of pattern.
China sets have long been an art form enjoyed in many homes. Their delicate appearance and complex patterns have generally been reserved for the most important family occasions. Holidays and special events are when they grace the table with their elegant beauty. Owning a custom made set of china dishes is becoming a reality for more people in the modern world. It is an art form that can be treasured throughout the years.