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TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - A Taiwan potter is producing razor-thin ceramic bowls, raising a historic Chinese art form to a fragile, new high and aiming to sell the 0.2-mm (0.008 inch) thick wares in China at a hefty price.
Taipei-area potter Huang Cheng-nan has made eight of what he says are the world's thinnest bowls, some suitable for a scoop of rice and one big enough to mix punch.
But even the clink of a spoon could shatter the ceramics, the smaller of which sell for T$200,000 ($6,350).
"I've been at this for more than 10 years, but I've only made them successfully since last year," Huang, 55, said in his studio where he broke thousands of pieces before cracking the technique. "The difficulty is extreme. A lot of bowls get broken."
Chinese have made ceramics over about 2,000 years for utilitarian and religious purposes as well as for decoration, with very thin bowls especially prized. These wares are often characterized by ornate paintings, support legs and lids with handles.
Huang, a ceramics maker by trade, got started on his bowls after he saw ultra-thin, record-breaking wares in China and brought some back to Taiwan to study. He says his bowls are more than twice as thin as the thinnest in China.
"You wouldn't want to eat out of one," Huang quipped. "That would cause breakage."
Huang imports specialized clay and hires painters to do patterns on the white bowls.
His shop in Yingge, a Taipei suburb known for ceramics production, aims to exhibit at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai in May. After that he will set a price for the larger bowls and offer it for sale in China.
Reporting by Christine Lu, Ben Tai and Ralph Jennings, editing by Miral Fahmy