Ceramic Developments - Historically and at ThirstyCats
In the most basic terms possible, pottery is the process and result of shaping clay into forms and heating it to a high enough temperature to cause the molecular particles to bind together and form a unified structure. That solidifying temperature varies with the clay used.
Earthenware is a porous, low fire clay that is used in a great deal of both decorative and functional pottery. (Almost all other cat fountains are made of this.) Much of the pottery that comes from China and other countries is earthenware as this is much less expensive to produce, both in materials as well as firing costs. Think of all the colorful pottery from Mexico. That is earthenware. Very light weight and unless glazed or painted, porous.
Most of the techniques we use at ThirstyCats to create ceramic fountains have been in use for thousands of years. The first evidence of wheel-throwing dates from three thousand years B.C. and of course hand-building is much older. Those are our primary processes. But not the only ones we use.
Because of its mechanical and chemical makeup, earthenware can only to be fired to under fourteen hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Beyond that the clay itself begins to melt. Nevertheless, though structurally weak, all the fragments of ancient civilizations found around the world are of low-fire, earthenware clay. It may not be strong within itself but there are no natural elements that can destroy it.
It wasn’t until the 1400’s that Porcelain and Stoneware were developed. (We make ninety five percent of our fountains from stoneware, none of earthenware.) It matures, or vitrifies – becomes non-porous) – at about two thousand two hundred and thirty two degrees F., creating a very strong structure.
Traditional porcelain fires to as high as twenty six hundred degrees F. However, another porcelain was developed that fires as low as stoneware, 2300 degrees and we do use this. It has most of the qualities (translucence, whiteness, really hard to work with, etc.) of traditional porcelain and we intend to use more of it.)
We will soon be coming out with two new kinds of fountains. The porcelain has presented serious problems but as we say here, problems are only questions looking for answers so we will have wonderful bright, porcelain fountains in a new series of glazes we are developing specially for them.
And, we will be offering what we are tempted to call an Over-the-Top line. These are larger, more complicated fountain scenes and vignettes not necessarily meant to be cat fountains but home décor fountains your cats will be happy to use. Below are a few examples in the works.