Ceramics in the Twenty-First Century

Have you ever thought about the many ways that ceramics are used in our lives? It’s an incredibly versatile material that is used in products as far apart as ceramic brake pads and porcelain dolls.

Who doesn’t enjoy the touch ceramic jewelry tray of fairyland that ceramic garden pixies bring to an otherwise ordinary garden? You can enjoy a sunny afternoon in the garden perched on a ceramic garden stool and sip a tasty cup of tea, made perfect with your ceramic tea strainer. We’ve switched from lava rock briquettes on the barbecue as well. My husband asked me to go with him to buy some ceramic briquettes and I’d never heard of them, so I asked him, “What are ceramic briquettes?” and he told me that they work much better than wood or lava and they’re safer too, because you don’t get flare-ups on the gas barbecue. Our barbecue also has a piezo ceramic element which works well with propane.

When my pet Labradors come and look at me with those sad eyes that tell me they are hungry, I go into the kitchen and serve them their food in cute ceramic dog bowls. Another way that ceramics are useful is in the many types of ceramic cookware that are decorative as well as functional in the kitchen. Even on the front doors of the homes in your street, ceramic house numbers are there to help the mailman deliver your mail.

I suffer from so many allergies that it’s out of the question to have wall-to-wall carpeting in my home, but this problem was easily solved by laying differently patterned ceramic floor tiles in each room. It’s much easier to keep clean than carpet that harbors the dirt and dust mite droppings that trigger allergy attacks in so many people

I can remember when we had the floors installed. It was mayhem in our house for all of that week when we seemed to be installing ceramic tile patterns from morning until night! We had chosen a different decorative ceramic tile for each room, but somehow we managed to get them mixed up and that started to make tempers fray!

Doing a ceramic tile installation without professional help is not something I would recommend! First of all there’s the chore of removing ceramic tile that is old and damaged and that’s a tough job. Then there’s the ear-splitting noise and the dust from drilling ceramic tiles to get them to fit properly at the edges of the rooms. But when it was all finished we both felt proud of our floor coverings in ceramics.

Of course, some people prefer to lay a porcelain floor tile because they say that porcelain is the best quality of tile that you can buy and I say, “Yes, it is! And it’s also the most expensive you can buy as well!” I know that a lot of people are having porcelain veneers put on their teeth these days, because it’s so translucent and durable, but when you hear how many thousands of dollars it costs for teeth, you can’t begin to imagine how much it would cost to do a kitchen and a bathroom in porcelain tiles.

Apart from its many uses in and around the home, ceramics are used extensively in the manufacturing industry where cutting tools that have a ceramic coating are more efficient. Ceramic ball bearings are now beginning to replace steel bearings because they are a lot lighter and cause much less friction in use. You can find this new type of bearing in skateboards, bicycles, fishing reels, motor vehicles and almost all new machinery.

That’s just a few of the ways that ceramics have become important in our homes and in industry. Who would have thought that something that started its life as nothing more than terracotta pottery jars thousands of years ago, would end up being such an important and versatile material in the 21st century?

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