China is made of a hard rocky stone of the nature of flint, which is ground to a fine powder, and then mixed with a soft clay. The beauty of china depends very much on the proportions in which these materials are mixed; for superior varieties half of each is used. It is thoroughly kneaded with the hands, then moulded into shape, and partly baked to turn it into what is called biscuit. After this process it is painted, gilded, glazed, and baked once more.
It was first brought into Europe from China, and the Chinese still excel in its manufacture. Their dragon china is especially valued, being difficult to procure. The figure on it (being the imperial arms) shows that it is only intended for the Emperor's use.
Sevres china, which is most costly, is made in France, and Dresden china in Saxony: the raised figures and flowers on the latter are very delicately and naturally coloured.
2. Brush gently to get out dust trom crevices.
4. Rinse in warm water to remove all soap.
5. Drain them on a tray.
An old toothbrush is very useful for removing dirt from raised flowers, etc.
In the case of very large vases with narrow necks, which will not permit of wiping inside, avoid washing, as if left damp they smell fusty; merely dust the inside with a feather brush.
The treatment of breakfast, tea, or dinner things may be divided into three heads :-
I. Preparation and sorting.
1. Empty cups into slop-basin, and pour cold water into the milk or cream jugs.
2. Scrape any bits from plates, and burn all refuse.
3. Empty teapot into a colander or sink basket.
4. Empty coffee-pot, and burn dregs.
5. Remove any remaining meat on to a clean dish.
6. Sort everything into piles of one kind at the right hand.
7. Prepare a bowl of hot soapy water, a clean dishcloth, a bowl of clean hot water : one tray for draining and another for the dried china, and have glass and teacloths in readiness.
II. Method of cleaning.
1. Wash the cleanest things first, such as glass; then silver, or, if attending to breakfast or tea things, commence with the saucers and tea plates; then proceed to the cups, and so on. In washing dinner things the cheese plates follow the glass and silver, then the pudding plates, lastly the greasy plates and dishes, for which a mop may be used.
2. Rinse in very hot water.
3. Drain on a tray.
4. Dry thoroughly, remembering that a wet towel leaves no polish. A final polish may be given with a second towel.
III. Replacement. Put away immediately, placing the freshly-washed china at the bottom of each pile, so that the lower china is used regularly, and does not become dusty.
Hot water is preferable to cold for rinsing, because, if by any chance the grease is not quite removed in the washing, the rinsing water will get rid of it; also china dries more quickly after the use of hot water.
In large establishments plate racks are often used. In this case, the china after rinsing is placed singly in the rack, and allowed to remain there until quite dry. It is usually placed either over the sink, or over a draining board, so that the droppings from the china do not make any mess. Portable plate racks may be bought at 7/6 each.
Oval pulp bowls (2/9 each) are to be recommended for washing up; the pulp being a safer substance, in case of con-. tact, than wood, earthenware, or metal. Oval ones are preferable to round, as dishes can be more easily washed in them. Pulpware should be dried after use, as this tends to prolong its duration. Wooden bowls are apt to warp, crack, and to become leaky in hot weather if left long unused.
Dishcloths may be bought at 11 3/4d. per dozen. Many people knit them with unbleached knitting cotton (using coarse bone needles) and insist on their being used for no other purpose than washing up. Knitted ones are easily distinguished. Care should be taken to change the water as soon as it becomes dirty, greasy, or cool; plenty of hot clean water and dry towels are essential; otherwise the china looks dull and smeared. Bacon plates should be scraped, or wiped with paper, before being placed in the washing water.
For the washing of knives, see Chapter XVI (Steel).
Hudson's dry soap makes a good lather. Instead of using it direct from the packet, place it in a jar, and pour on it 1 1/2| pints of boiling water: this forms a thin jelly, and may be used as required.
Some china cracks very quickly when hot tea is poured into it. In order to prevent this the following treatment is effectual: place the new china in a large fish-kettle (putting straw between the layers), cover it with cold water, and allow it to come slowly to the boiling-point. After boiling a few moments, take the kettle from the fire, and allow the china to remain in it till the water is quite cold.
In washing-up, some people place the china in the bowl, and then pour very hot water on to it. This is a bad method, and is often the cause of cracks.
Special attention should always be paid to handles of jugs and of teacups, rims of china teapots, and any fluted parts. Teapots should be dried inside as well as outside, and the lid should not be fitted on tightly, but the air allowed to circulate freely to avoid a musty taste. Recent tea stains may be removed from china teapots by steeping over-night in hot water and soda, then rubbing the marks with a cloth moistened in vinegar or ammonia, and dipped in salt.
Marks of burnt milk may be removed from pie-dishes by rubbing with salt; if very obstinate, mix a little crushed eggshell with the salt.
China milk-jugs should be steeped in cold water before washing, as hot water hardens the albumen and makes it cling to the sides. Narrow-necked ones should not be chosen, as it is almost impossible to wash and dry the body of the jug. Those that are the same width throughout are advisable, as any trace of milk soon causes a sour smell and taste.
Towels and dishcloths should, after use, be scalded, rinsed, and hung in the open air if possible, then folded and put in a drawer. If left in the scullery they may be used for various unsuitable purposes.
Small clothes-horses, costing 6 1/2d. each, are useful for drying tea and glasscloths, where there is much washing-up. The cloths may be placed, when wet, before a good fire, and will become dry in time to be used again during the same washing-up, as soon as other cloths have been used till wet.
Before commencing the washing-up, saucepans, frying-pans, or any culinary utensil used in the preparation of the meal, should be three parts filled with water, a little soda added, and allowed to boil, so as to be ready for washing when the china and other articles are finished.