There’s a reason pottery and ceramics have been around for centuries. For one thing, it represents a certain practical art form typical of early civilization. In addition to being a large jug that could transport water, an early ceramic vase was also a canvass through which the ancients helped make their stories permanent.
That spirit of creation has continued into today, with pottery making holding strong as a lasting hobby. Pottery and ceramics will never become a fad, and that’s what’s so unique about them — they’re lasting, they’re permanent. But if you’ve never created anything from scratch before, it could be a bit overwhelming at the beginning. Here is a quick rundown of the basics you’ll need to start shaping ceramics and pottery pieces with your hands.
A pottery wheel
The wheel is where the piece first begins to take its shape. Using a pedal, a pottery maker forms the loose clay into a recognizable shape — whether it’s a bowl, a pot, a vase or something else entirely — by running his or hands across it, smoothing it out. The smoothness will play a large part in the next step and beyond, when the clay solidifies into a solid structure.
You can actually decorate your new piece of pottery or ceramic after it’s been fired in the kiln (see the next step), but you have to apply the glaze before. During the heating process, the moisture of the clay is dried, and the glaze on the outside of the shape is fused to it, resulting in a beautiful finish. Glaze is one of the most essential pottery tools because of how it defines the shape of the object so well.
Firing inside a kiln
A pottery kiln is essential in the creation of a lasting piece of pottery. In fact, without the intense heat that a kiln offer the clay, it would simply remain a shaped mess of texture and design without any solid structure. That’s why kilns — which house the shape as it’s exposed to substantially high temperatures for an extended period of time — have become such integral parts of the entire process of pottery making.
Finishing up the decor
Once the piece has cooled down, you are free to resume your decorating. In fact, this is probably the most fun part about pottery making since you can do it before the firing, after or both. Using different paints and coloring supplies, you can create any kind of design or insignia on the object to identify it as something real that’s come from your own hands.
As you can probably tell, pottery making is a very hands-on process. That means it requires a lot of skillful movements and techniques, and the best way to get all those down is through plenty of practice. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your career as an amateur (or beyond!) pottery maker. References.