RED porcelain is against the law in some countries due to its use of toxic pigment cadmium in its creation process.
Cadmium, which is also found in paint, has been a favorite of artists such as Cézanne, Dali, and Bacon, for decades.
Why is red porcelain against the law?
Red porcelain originated during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in China.
Red porcelain could be made with the paint pigment cadmium, which is highly toxic.
Cadmium is widely considered to be dangerous and is outlawed in many places. Therefore, it is not necessarily the red porcelain that is illegal, but the cadmium it is made with.
The chemical compound was discovered in 1917 by a German chemist named Friedrich Stromeyer, but it did not become commercially available until two decades later.
Studies show that cadmium found in ceramics and glassware is especially dangerous.
If you use a bowl tinted with cadmium, you could be exposing yourself to the pigment that could potentially poison you.
Where is red porcelain illegal?
In 2014, Europe wanted to impose a ban on red porcelain.
In December 2013, the Swedish Chemicals Agency proposed a case that stated that cadmium in the body increased risk of bone fractures and breast cancer.
They also argued that cadmium in paint that is washed down the drain and subsequently used on crops increases cadmium dietary intake.
They said that this can cause kidney and liver damage, skeletal damage, several types of cancers, and death.
In Australia, consumer activist Michael Vernon banned the use of cadmium pigments in plastics that could be used in toy manufacturing.
What is made from red porcelain?
Red porcelain is often found in Chinese ceramics like plates and bottles.
In traditional Chinese culture, the color red represents joy, happiness, and auspiciousness.
Red porcelain materials are expensive and require a complicated technique to glaze.
Some antique stores sell red porcelain bowls and vases for upwards of $2,500, but it’s difficult to say if the items were made with cadmium or azo pigments, which are significantly cheaper and non-toxic.
What else is cadmium in?
Cadmium is found in artist mediums like paint, chalk and glass and are preferred for their rich yellow, green, orange and red hues.
In a 2015 article of Just Paint published by the Golden Artist Colors, the writer claimed that “there are no alternatives that match all of the characteristics of cadmium pigments.”
The use of chalk pastels containing cadmium colors is among the highest toxicity risks for artists, as these pastels create dust that can be inhaled.
Allia Rizvi, the brand director of Winsor & Newton, which makes fine art products including cadmium paint, told the Independent that: “Cadmium is of historical and modern day importance. It was developed at a time when some pigments were toxic, and it was quite a revolution.”
“It was seen as revolutionary as it was so powerful. As soon as it became commercially available it was quickly adopted into the artist’s palette. And it still is a very strong part of professional artists’ palettes today,” Rizvi says.
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