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Josiah Wedgwood was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. His father was a potter himself and at the age of fourteen, Wedgwood was apprenticed to his brother Thomas, who was also a potter. Wedgwoods heirs Josiah Wedgwood & Sons still run the business today.

Wedgwood soon recognised the potential market that existed for ceramics in England, due to the backwardness of techniques and ideas at the time. He discarded traditional Staffordshire forms and began incorporating elements of 'higher' Rococo and Neo-classical art into his work, creating articles that were to become fashionable amongst the 'high society' of England.

His first great success was the perfection of a cream-colored crockery. The chemical composition was actually that of a stoneware clay, but it was fired to an earthenware temperature and lead-glazed, giving it its characteristic creamy yellow color. This cream-colored ware became very popular, especially after Wedgwood was conferred Royal patronage by Queen Charlotte of England, after which the ware was called 'Queen's Ware'. The Cream Ware was often decorated using a then new technique called Transfer Printing (widely used today), which was invented by John Saddler of Liverpool, who collaborated with Wedgwood from 1761 onwards.

In 1769, around the time of the rise of neo-classicism in europe, Wedgwood devised a new clay body, which was to be known as 'Black Etruscan' or 'Black Basalt' ware. This was a clay body made from a red iron-bearing clay with additions of manganese-dioxide, which gave it its black color. The formula rendered the clay quite hard and dense after firing and it was possible to give it a highly polished finish.

Almost synonymous with the name Wedgwood has become his famous 'blue and white' ware or 'Jasper Ware'. Jasper Ware was made from a clay body invented and tested by Wedgwood himself. It took him several years to come up with the result, which was first introduced in 1774. The Jasper Ware body was a pure white, but could be colored in numerous ways. Usually it was colored a light to medium blue, with pure white bas-relief ornaments added. These would be made in separate molds and carefully attached at the leather-hard stage. There is a long list of items that were made in the Jasper Ware, including cameos, seals, medallions, candlesticks, tea-ware and even busts.

Nowadays, authenticating original Wedgwood ware is done with the help of Signature Marks, which Wedgwood used from as early as 1759.

Wedgwood continued to produce ceramics and explore new techniques until his death in 1795.

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