Re-fired by the blaze
The fire has given us a rare opportunity to study the effects of fire on ceramics. The extremely high temperatures experienced during the life of the fire caused chemical reactions resulting in permanent and irreversible change to some of our ceramic objects. This is quite amazing when you think that porcelain is made by firing clay in excess of 1200 degrees centigrade.
There was a lot of porcelain in the collection and so we now have lots of fragments showing different effects from the fire, and its aftermath, according to where they were on display. Some ceramics have undergone an irreversible physical and chemical change driven by the temperature of the fire. Glazes have softened or melted, dirt and debris has bonded onto surfaces and in some cases fragments have fused together in abstract clumps. Some glazes have completely changed colour so that what was once brightly coloured decoration is now dull and monochrome.
Equally we’ve had our fair share of success. Some of our most delicate pieces including animals and figurines have been recovered intact. After careful cleaning, some pieces are immaculate – you’d never know they’d been through a fire of such ferocity.