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Black Basalt bowl - 1967

Black Basalt Bowl, © Wedgwood Museum
    Black Basalt Bowl
    © Wedgwood Museum

This Black Basalt fruit bowl from 1967 has been decorated with the application of a rouletted band.

This Black Basalt fruit bowl from 1967 has been decorated with the application of a rouletted band.

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/bowl
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD

    MADE IN ENGLAND

    [Impressed]
  • Year produced: 1967
  • Body: Black Basalt
  • Glaze: unglazed
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: rouletted
  • Accession number: 11798
  • Dimensions: 77 mm (height), 142 mm (diameter)

Other images

Related people

  • Robert ('Bob') Minkin Designer

    Robert ('Bob') Minkin - Designer (1928 - 2012)

    Robert, or Bob, Minkin was born in Ramsgate in 1928 and joined Wedgwood as Chief Designer in 1955 after training at the Royal College of Art. Thirteen years later he was appointed Group Designer and moved with his team into the new circular design studio opened in 1968 by Lord Snowdon, husband at the time of HRH Princess Margaret (now demolished as a result of site re-development), and in 1979 he became Design Director. A number of distinctive tableware patterns were designed by him during the 1950s, and he also produced designs for basalt. In 1988, Robert was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art. He retired from Wedgwood in September 1989 and died in 2012.

Glossary

  • Black Basalt

    Black Basalt

    A fine-grained black stoneware body, composed of ball clay, calcined ochre and manganese oxide. Josiah Wedgwood developed black basalt in 1768 to replace the earlier ‘black Egyptian’ ware produced in Staffordshire in the mid-eighteenth century. 

     

    Basalt was described by Josiah Wedgwood as ‘A fine black Porcelain, having nearly the same properties as the Basaltes i.e., the mineral rock', resisting the Attack of Acids; being a Touch-stone to Copper, Silver and Gold, and equal in Hardness to Agate or Porphyry'. It was the result of his experiments to perfect fine-grained stoneware suitable for the production of ornamental pieces, one that would complement the neo-classical styles then coming into vogue. It is probable that Wedgwood was experimenting with a basalt body in September 1767. He wrote to Bentley, ‘I am still going on with my tryals, & want much to shew you some of them'. Certainly within 12 months Basalt was generally available. From 1773 Wedgwood's plain-black body became universally known as ‘basaltes'. Both ornamental and useful wares were produced in this versatile body and it was used to make virtually anything the public required. Wedgwood placed great confidence in his material, predicting that ‘Black is Sterling and will last for ever'.

    Black clay was derived from ‘Carr', an oxide of iron suspended in the water that had flowed through coal seams and mines. This was drained and dried and then sold by the cartload to potters for use in the production of basalt pottery. Wedgwood made no secret of his recipe for Basalt, which he recorded on page 236 of ‘Common Place Book I. The entry is dated 1777, and reads:

    ‘Our Black Basalt Body. 80 of ball clay sifted 80 of Carr [ochre] calcined & ground 9 of manganese. The above is one Blending.'

    When these ingredients were fired together at a high temperature they vitrified into a fine-textured black body. The distinctive colour of Wedgwood's basalt, which has a deep purplish-black hue, is due to the high proportion of manganese included in the formula.