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1/17/2007
Ceramic technology through the ages

From turntable-shaped clay to modern manufacturing: conference at Sacmi Imola

Centuries ago, nearly all ceramic was made on the turntable, expert hands shaping the clayey mix into a variety of products. Indeed, the tradition of artistic faience ceramic - developed in the small northern Italian town of Faenza that has achieved worldwide renown - has lasted to this day and the turntable is still in use. However, the bodies and materials used in today’s industrial-scale ceramic manufacturing processes have changed enormously. Even clay itself, which remains the material common to all ceramic products, must now be extracted and prepared using techniques vastly different from those of yesteryear.

This centuries-long technological evolution – a fascinating historical and cultural odyssey through a land that has strong traditional ties with ceramic – is the subject of the conference “Making ceramic yesterday, making ceramic today”, organised by Associazione Amici della Ceramica and the International Ceramic Museum of Faenza. This event, the second in a 7-part series of meetings aimed at associates and students of arts schools, will be held on Saturday 20th January at Sacmi Imola.

For those eager to discover more about how bodies have evolved in response to changes in technology - in a world, that of industrial ceramic, which now makes everything from bricks to tableware, from refractory items to insulation, from tiles to porcelain – this event is a must. Guest speakers at the convention include Istec-Cnr Faenza researcher Michele Dondi, who will illustrate the long history of clayey materials that began with crafts and arts. Then, Andrea Bresciani, manager of the Sacmi Group’s ceramic research facility, will speak about the qualities required of modern bodies so as to allow proper industrial processing.

The convention shows how processing techniques have changed enormously over the years, not just with respect to the world of artistic ceramic, but also since the advent of those first mass production factories that sprang up along the via Emilia during the 1960s. Such meetings, then, will not only be of keen interest to members of the Associazione Amici della Ceramica of Faenza and students of the nearby Art School – to whom this project is particularly aimed – but also to those, now nearing retirement, who worked in the industry during the boom years. The conference, scheduled to start at 10.30, will be followed by a visit to the Sacmi production plant and research lab.

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