JIAAW, Bishop Collection
Faience first appeared about 6000 years ago in the Near East and its production techniques were refined and widely used in Egypt. While beads were some of the earliest faience objects produced in Egypt, the material was also used extensively on amulets, figurines, and scarabs and inlayed into furniture and walls.
Faience is made of quartz or sand (silica) mixed with alkaline salts, lime, and metallic colorants. While faience comes in many colors, blue/green is the most common and is made using copper. This bright blue color may have been used as a substitute for turquoise or lapis lazuli and, in Egypt, the color was associated with fertility, life, and the sun.
Faience objects were generally made using one of three methods. In the efflorescence method, the faience ingredients were mixed into a paste and then shaped or pressed into a mold to make small objects. Beads were often made using this method, pressing the paste into tubes which were then cut into pieces before firing. In the direct application method, a faience core was glazed with a slurry of ingredients, either by brushing, dipping, or pouring it over the core. The cementation method also used a faience core, which was buried in a glazing powder that melted and reacted with the core to form a glaze during firing. Regardless of the method of shaping and glazing used, these pieces were fired in a kiln to produce the brilliant finish.
-Jess Porter, JIAAW Operations and Events Coordinator
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