Unique, Distinctive and Elegant
By Sanuj Hathurusinghe
In Friends when a fight between Rachel and one of her sisters breaks out in the Bings’ apartment and results in one plate of Monica’s China set being broken, Monica suffers a mini heart attack. Funny as the scene is, it goes to show that a mundane day-to-day object like a plate too can be a priced possession which depicts art, class, and value. China is popular for producing valuable and artistic plates and tea sets but when it comes to all things porcelain, Sri Lanka too possesses quite the reputation for producing ceramic products with unparalleled quality.
Just like when it comes to export tea production Sri Lanka prefers quality and brand recognition over quantity which China has in abundance. Unlike China, Sri Lanka is a small country with a limited raw material base. What lacks in quantity we have made up for by upping the quality of our products. Helped with certain raw materials capable of providing backward linkages with the potential to promote foreign investments the ceramics industry in Sri Lanka is booming and is gaining continuous foreign demand courtesy the unique Sri Lankan value addition process which is ever-evolving to match the customer niches and demands.
The history of ceramics industry of Sri Lanka dates back to a several centuries, making us veterans and humble pros in the industry. Another strength is the availability of raw materials in Sri Lanka, in its purest form and for a reasonable price. This coupled with the skilled and literate workforce in the industry comprising gifted designers, chemists, technologists, and engineers contribute to the betterment of the industry immensely.
Sri Lanka exports three main ceramic products, namely; tableware, ornamental ware, and ceramic tiles, mainly to USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, Belgium and Japan. In North America and in Italy in particular, our products are competing well with native products and gaining much appreciation and attention. Pictured here are busy scenes from Dankotuwa Porcelain – arguably the best ceramics producer in Sri Lanka – some time ago.
Seasoning of the clay used in manufacturing process is done both utilising human labour as well as machines. The products are then fired in an electric kiln. Once out, the basic colours are applied to the ceramics before putting them back in the kiln. The last step of the process is the most important one – the designing. At the hands of skilled designers each and every porcelain product is individually designed, making the overall value of the product much higher. After the design process only we get to see the final product, ready to hit store shelves.
(Pix by Nuwan Amarawansha)