History of Blue Pottery
Blue Pottery is Turko-Persian in origin, but today it is widely known as one of the distinctive crafts of Jaipur. When the city of Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh, craftsmen from all over the country were invited to come and make their home in this new city. Royal patronage, lucrative offers and the attraction of living in a beautiful city led many artisans and craftsmen to come and settle in Jaipur. By the beginning of the 19th century the city was well established as a thriving art centre. In keeping with the traditions of his forefathers, Sawai Ram Singh II (1835-1880) set up a school of art and continued to encourage artists and craftsmen.
The name ‘blue pottery’ comes from the eye-catching blue dye that is used to color the pottery. Some of the pottery is semi-transparent and most are decorated with animal and bird motifs. The pottery has a unique appearance as it is made using Egyptian paste, glazed and low-fired. This is an artform that stands distinguished from all other forms of pottery owing to its usage of a special dough prepared by mixing quartz stone powder, powdered glass, Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth), borax, gum and water. It is the only pottery in the world that does not use clay. The technique beautifully produces decorative items like tiles, door knobs, pots, vases and plates.
The process of making blue pottery is tedious and time-consuming.The dough for molding is prepared by mixing the key five ingredients, previously mentioned. It is then rolled and flattened to the form of a 4-5 millimeter thick ‘Chapatti’(pancake) which is put into moulds with a mixture of fne ‘Bajri’(stones) and‘Raakh’ (ash made from burnt wood). The mold is now turned upside down and removed, and the dough obtained is left to dry.
The pottery item, cleaned and shaped, is rubbed with ‘Regmaal’ to polish the surface. It is then dipped in a solution of quartz powder, powdered glass, edible flour (maida) and water and dried. A design is made on the dried, coated vessel with a solution of cobalt oxide and edible gum and the coloring is done by using oxides of various metals. These oxides are mixed with edible gum and then ground on the stone and applied using a brush.
What gives the final touch is a coating of glaze, done on the products by mixing powdered glass, borax, zinc oxide, potassium nitrate and Boric acid. This mixture is melted and cooled to form small pebbles which are ground to a powdered form and coated on the vessel after mixing with water and maida.Finally, the prepared products are heated in the closed kiln fuelled with charcoal at temperatures of 800 to 850 degrees Celsius.
This beautiful craft continues to be the outcome of the creative expression and skill of the craftsmen.