"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Introduction to Pottery

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Featured, Knowledge | Comments Off on Introduction to Pottery

Introduction to Pottery

Pottery is the ceramic art of making pottery goods.  There are three major types of pottery: earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.  The term pottery is also the name given to the place where pottery goods are made and the actual art and craft of the potter.

Pottery is made by shaping/molding a body of clay into a preferred shape and then heating this shape in high temperatures until all the water is removed and the clay becomes hardened and the shape set.

History

Pottery is one of the world’s oldest known handicrafts performed by humans. Back as far as 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic period it is believed to have begun.  In those days especially in the Middle East and Africa the lifestyle of the nomadic hunters was transitioning into farmers who were planting crops. Baskets were well used in these times but the one problem that they had was the inability to hold water. This is why pottery was born.

They needed something new to fill this void, but it had to be light to carry. Since clay was in great supply and was easily shapeable it was the chosen material and through trial and error the tribes began to understand what was possible with this new form of this material. Especially what happens to it when it dried.  It was the Egyptians who invented the kiln to fire the pots to dry them out at a faster pace.

It was the Greeks who made it an art form and the Chinese who created porcelain. In medieval times they discovered that mixing sand with clay made it strong enough hold over fire. So the art of pottery has evolved to what we love. It is an ancient art form that is used in every day life.

Read More

Decorating and Glazing in Pottery

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in Featured, Pottery Decoration | Comments Off on Decorating and Glazing in Pottery

Decorating and Glazing in Pottery

One way of decorating your pottery pieces is by a method known as Glazing. Glaze is a layer of glass like substance that has been fused to a ceramic piece. Glaze adds color; decoration to a ceramic piece and it also strengthens and waterproofs items. Glazing is a useful method to use on earthenware pieces, as they are unsuitable for holding liquids due to their porosity.  Glazing is used on stoneware and porcelain pieces as well.

Glaze on pottery pieces can have a variety of finishes, of gloss, matte and color. There are many ways to glaze your pieces. Most commonly pieces are dipped directly into the glaze, or you can dry dust the mixture over the clay, you can also pour the glaze over your piece or you can also spray it on with an airbrush.

Another method of glazing is Salt Glaze Pottery. In Salt Glaze Pottery, salt or soda is inserted in the kiln at high temperatures, which creates a sodium vapor that reacts with the aluminum sicilia oxides in the piece of clay, which forms and deposits the glass.

If you have decorated your pieces of pottery and then apply a glaze over the top then the decorations are known as under glaze.  If you decorate on the top of your glaze this is known as over glaze.

Read More

Ceramics Usage in Modern Technology

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Featured, Knowledge | Comments Off on Ceramics Usage in Modern Technology

Ceramics Usage in Modern Technology

While you are at home today, have a look around and see how many electronic devices that would be unusable if it weren’t for the help of ceramics. In fact, a lot of what you see is ceramic based. It may not be apparent to the naked human eye, but ceramics plays an important role almost everywhere you look.  Next time you are looking out the windows of your house or out windows of your car that you drive, there are ceramic materials.

Don’t forget bricks, telephone and power insulators, tiles, crockery and toilet bowls. Every item listed requires the skills of a ceramic engineer to design and manufacture the materials that are required to perform their jobs. Another interesting fact is the bio-ceramics used on hip replacements and space shuttle tiles. Even during the war ceramics protected soldier. Being designed at the moment are ceramic engines that will be better for the environment and more fuel-efficient. So you can see how ceramics is being used in Modern Technology.

Read More

Ceramics in the kitchen – is it always the better option?

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Knowledge | Comments Off on Ceramics in the kitchen – is it always the better option?

Ceramics in the kitchen – is it always the better option?

We ceramic lovers often claim that everything is better when it’s ceramic. While this is true for most things (of course :), is it possible that some things are just more affordable, durable or beautiful when made from metal, wood, or some other material. In this article, we will give a short overview of different items, from grinders (such as salt and pepper grinders, and those found at MeatGrinderAdviser) to kitchen utilities and knives, and try to give an objective assessment on which is better – ceramic or non-ceramic.

Knives

One of the staple items in any kitchen, a knife is something you use every day. The man characteristics important in a knife are its durability, sharpness and price.

Ceramic knives are usually cheaper that steel ones. They are amazingly sharp, and won’t need sharpening in time. On the other hand, they have the disadvantage of being fragile, and they easily chip or break. Another good point of ceramic knives is that they are nonreactive with some foods, which cannot be said of steel knives. Most people have both ceramic and steel knives in their kitchen, and use them for different purposes.

In conclusion, we have to say that this battle ends in a tie – they both have good and bad sides, so it ends up being a personal choice. I think we’ll go with ceramic!

Grinders

When looking into grinders, we have to come to the conclusion that different types of grinders have different material advantages. For example, when looking for a good meat grinder, ceramic ones are hard to come by, while there are excellent steel meat grinders such as this one – http://www.meatgrinderadviser.com/lem-products-75-hp-review/.

On the other hand, when it comes to other types of grinders, for example salt and pepper grinders, we have found that ceramic ones are better for the job.

Cookware

A recent development in the non-stick cookware department, ceramic coatings are rapidly gaining popularity. This is because they are environmentally friendly and safe. They come in all shapes, styles and colors.

On the other hand, some claim that they have a shorter life span than their adversary – Teflon. But we have found that this is because people use a lot of oil and cooking spray, which tends to affect the durability of the cookware. This affects both ceramic and Teflon cookware – if there is a build-up of oil, the pan quickly loses its non-stick properties, and if the oil is scrubbed off, the non-stick coating is lost.

So both are amazing, but we’ll still go with ceramic!

Teapots

Concerning teapots, there are three prevalent choices – glass, porcelain or ceramic.

Glass teapots are the least popular of the three, and with good reason. Although they are nice to look at because they are see-through, they easily crack when heat or cold is applied.

Porcelain teapots do not absorb the flavour of the tea, which is their advantage, but they are unsuitable for types of tea which requires long brewing.

Finally, ceramic teapots have no discernable disadvantages. They retain heat for a long time, and the enamel coating stops them from absorbing the flavour of the tea. Ceramic is again our number one choice!

Read More

Earning Money Making Ceramics

Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Spirit of Pottery | Comments Off on Earning Money Making Ceramics

Earning Money Making Ceramics

Some people love doing ceramics, but prefer do only do it as a hobby. Others, however, would give everything to be able to make a living by making pots, figurines, cups, etc. And these people often ask themselves – is a serious career in pottery and ceramics really possible?

The answer is YES!

But before you start quitting your day-jobs, you have to inform yourself and bare some things in mind. There are both upsides and downsides to doing this type of business. One of the downsides is that it takes some time to get off the ground, and you need to invest at least some capital if you’re going to see a return. This means that it is way better to not retire your construction helmet, nurse shoes, or office suit just yet – it is better to have a steady income while your ceramics business develops. This might be strenuous and harsh, but unless you have a nice nest egg, it is by far the best option – you won’t be able to sell your ceramics if you don’t have any money for material.

So, you might be asking yourselves – What are the important factors in developing a successful ceramics business. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Finances – Yes, we’re starting with the least interesting, but sometimes most important one. You have to keep a close eye on your finances if you want to make any money from your venture. This means calculating the cost of the material, utilities, taxes, and then figuring out what your targeted salary is and how many pieces you can make per week. Only when you have all this info can you put the right price on your pieces.
  • Attention to Detail – This tip references both finances, and your work. You have to keep a close eye on what you’re getting and what you’re spending. If you’re not sure how to do this, use a program for bookkeeping. Concerning your work, make sure you interact with your customers and pay attention to their wants and needs. This will make them happy and attract more.
  • Quality – This is the big one! Quality is one of the most important things to keep an eye on. You have to be trained to recognize a quality work when you see one, and you need to make sure you give everything you can into each of your pieces. This way you can introduce your customers to your quality and style, and you will gain loyal patrons.
  • Value – It is important that you know how to set your prices – if you set them too high, no one will buy them, and if they are too low, you won’t profit. You have to find the golden middle. Do this by looking at your finances to avoid undercharging, and looking at other galleries and artists to avoid setting astronomical prices. A good idea is to have pieces in all price ranges (for example, divided by size), so that someone who has some extra cash can buy a $5000 piece, while those who can’t afford to be extravagant have the option of getting a smaller piece for $20.
Read More

A peek into the world of Ceramics

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Spirit of Pottery | Comments Off on A peek into the world of Ceramics

A peek into the world of Ceramics

I had recently been on a vacation with my friends. We had a great time, especially the kayaking we did. One of my friends owns a cabin by a lake. We all went kayaking and even had a race, which was exciting and all of us, had great fun.

The kayak we used was exceptionally designed and of good quality, so we could enjoy the race better.  In the evenings, we would sit by the cabin, set up a campfire and talk about all kinds of things. It was during one of these talks that the topic of ceramics came up.

One of my friends wanted to pick up a ceramic gift for his girlfriend. She loved all things ceramic. He wanted to know how ceramic had developed over the centuries to the present state.

Particularly he wanted to know why when the civilizations of the past were named after the materials, which dominated that period like Stone Age or Bronze Age, there never has been a ceramic age. This is because all these civilizations used ceramic prevalently and it cannot be contained to only one particular period.

In fact, I mentioned that there is evidence of ceramic use as back as 24,000 BCE. And today these ceramics are used in silicon chips, catalytic converters and other important things we use in our daily routine.  Therefore, ceramic age encompasses all of human civilization, which shows the significance it has in the modern era.

Ceramics

The pottery and articles made from firing clay were given the name ceramics earlier. However, at present the term has a wider definition. At present ceramics are non-metallic or inorganic solids that characterize useful properties including strength, hardness, and high melting point and have good thermal and electrical insulation.

Ceramic materials include pottery, brick, glass, cement and porcelain. While these are the popularly known ceramics, the name actually covers wider range of materials that have inorganic solid and are non-metallic.

Various ceramic materials

Diamond and graphite are types of ceramics that have a crystalline arrangement that differ from the basic carbon element they have. You also have complex crystals of oxygen, copper, barium and yttrium, which form advanced ceramics that are used as superconductors or materials with no electrical resistance.

While these two are, the extreme ends of the ceramic material scale there are others, which fall in between including crystalline compounds, metal oxides, carbides, nitrides, silicide, etc. And the advanced ceramics which we use now are formed from a combination of ceramics with other materials called as CMCs (Ceramic Matrix Composites)

Ceramic properties

Ceramics are brittle solids suited to withstand high temperatures. This is only one of the various properties that ceramics are endowed with. The others include electrical resistance, brittleness, durability, strength, thermal resistance and withstand effects of acids, chemicals and oxygen. But all ceramics do not have all of these properties.

For instance, graphite conducts electricity but is  a soft ceramic. Diamond on the other hand is a good heat conductor. Ferrites are a type of ceramic material that conducts electricity. Superconductors do not have any electrical resistance. And the composite ceramic matrix used by embedding strengthened fibres in the ceramic does not have any brittleness.

My friend who had all the while related ceramic to pottery only, was stunned at the various facets of the material. He was happy that he had brought it up. The vacation was truly relaxing and rejuvenating for all of us, especially the fun time we had in the kayaks, check out this site for more info, which also gave us some rigorous cardio activity to indulge in during the vacation.

Read More

10 Famous Modern Ceramic Artists

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Knowledge | Comments Off on 10 Famous Modern Ceramic Artists

10 Famous Modern Ceramic Artists

Ceramics and pottery in general have a long history. Truly, back before words and other verbal means of expression, people would plaster pictures onto surfaces and relay ideas, thoughts and concepts with tools like ceramics. Eventually people figured out they were creating art and that ceramics could be used to make other masterpieces too. If you have an interest in ceramics and popular artists of our times, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a list of 10 famous modern ceramic artists, including names and what each artist is known for doing.

While not strictly modern, Victor Spinski has been creating works of art with ceramics since the 1950s. Or had been, to be more accurate – he passed away sometime in 2013. He was famous in the 60s and 70s for creating replicas, in ceramic, of objects in the world made from other materials. A famous article is the garbage can full of trash, which isn’t garbage at all but ceramic pieces of art, from top to bottom, in its entirety. Just look up the name and you’ll see it for yourself.

If you’ve never heard of him before, Steve Irvine is pretty much guaranteed to give you a good feeling about your interest in ceramics. Not only does this modern artist excel at creating art with various ceramic types, but he also has a knack for making fully functional cameras which are first fired in a kiln at several hundred degrees. Of course, the electronic components are installed after this, but still – taking pictures with a rock is something you probably never thought you’d do in this life, eh?

Carol Long of Kansas is famous for taking inspiration from her agrarian surroundings when growing up and making some spiffy pieces of art based upon them. While many ceramic artists can produce quality work, few of them do it with much attention to colors – and that’s where Carol Long really excels. Her skill with working colors blends with a technique learned through decades of work to craft imagery which is downright delightful to see.

Michelle Erickson is another name you may not recognize, but after seeing pieces like her famous twin Green Squirrels, one holding a nut which belongs in a machine rather than a tree and the other armed with what appears to be a 9mm submachine gun, you’ll probably want to find more of her work. This ceramic artist blends great attention to detail with social commentary, creating pieces which are not only a joy to look upon, but are also good for stirring up conversation and getting people talking.

Making ceramics is a good exercise for body and mind, as artist Peter Voulkos might tell you if he were still around. Another ceramic artist whose mortal coil came unwound, Voulkos was a sort of polar opposite of Erickson, mentioned above. While she stresses over minor details and duplicating things exactly, he was obsessed with size and scale, creating massive works which took months or even years to craft. Their size and scale means he was probably getting a good workout while putting them together.

John Glick is someone you might know if you happen to be from Michigan, in the United States. He’s been working from his own private studio there since the early 1960s and is still producing work for shows and conventions today. Despite the earthy tones and complexions in most ceramics, Glick also managed to work many different colors into his art, even using ranges of the same muddy, dark shades to create the illusion of color where there was none. Some of his work has been called macabre or grotesque by critics, but this only serves to make him stand out from contemporaries even more.

Beate Kuhn is another ceramic artist you may have heard of before, but not for any proximity to where you live. If you have a real interest in ceramics, as in enough to go to shows and see pieces from around the world, you’ve probably heard of this artist before. Beate Kuhn focuses on shapes and repeating them to create art which seems to toy with the mind of the viewer. If you’ve done much work with math, you probably know about tessellations and repeating patterns and shapes already. Kuhn is a kind of ceramic mathematician and her work is surely worth seeing.

In an art form where practically anything goes, artists like Annie Woodford can truly excel and get the recognition they deserve. This master of ceramics has a long list of works, including pieces you probably never thought you’d see reproduced by hand. Coral reefs from before recorded history, ancient ships and creatures too small to see with the naked eye are all in her portfolio. While other artists fixate on form and function, Woodford just creates – or recreates – whatever comes to mind, it seems.

Ellen Schon is one of those rare ceramic artists who is not only capable of producing great work, but is also able to instruct others on how to do the same. She currently speaks at Boston’s Art Institute, where she espouses her views on using ceramics as an art form to create metaphors for many different aspects in our world and our experiences with it. That’s long-winded all right, but her art is definitely worth checking out. Just look her up and you’ll see, it’s interesting to say the least.

Last but certainly not least among these 10 ceramic artists is Eszter Imre. This Hungarian native was born in 1985 and while she is still young and lacking the experience of the other artists listed here, she is already living the artist’s life. Imre travels across Europe and elsewhere while picking up educational degrees here and there during her travels. At present, Imre can be found in Sweden, where she makes a point of showing her works in local expositions and exhibitions, while broadcasting her skills to the rest of the world. This is one artist to keep an eye on as we move toward the future.

Read More

Ceramics in Hunting

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Spirit of Pottery | Comments Off on Ceramics in Hunting

Ceramics in Hunting

Normally we talk about ceramics and the discussion revolves around some facet or another of art; people making ceramics, or coloring them, or selling them, or whatever. But ceramics have a wide range of applications, with a number of uses totaling dozens of different applications. For instance, did you ever think you might use ceramics while hunting? If you happen to do your hunting with a bow and arrows rather than a gun, you might be using ceramics right now without even realizing it. If you don’t believe it, just keep reading to find out more about ceramics and where they can be found.

For starters, ceramic arrowheads aren’t exactly new stuff. They can be serrated or otherwise worked like metals to get the kind of penetration you want for whatever game it is you’re hunting. However, unlike other materials, ceramics tend to bust when you expose them to high speeds and sudden impacts, like when firing them from a box into the body of some creature. Normally this is perceived as a negative quality of ceramics, yet when hunting with a bow and looking to do as much damage as possible, this quality becomes highly positive. Just check out http://criticalhunting.com/ for more on this.

That’s because you can seriously injure or even kill an animal using a ceramic arrowhead, when you would only hurt it using metal. Those little fragments that break off from the arrowhead and disperse into the wound will in turn cause wounds of their own, leading to more bleeding. This will either overcome the animal, or make it much easier to track given the volume of blood being lost from a single hit. Naturally, you’ll still want to aim for vital areas and places you would normally shoot to hit in order to maximize this effect. Ceramic arrowheads can be quite nasty, really.

Ceramics and their presence in hunting happen to go beyond the tips of arrows, too. Did you know ceramics often find their way into cameras, where they are either used exclusively to craft lenses, or for other parts inside the camera? If you’re using a TRAIL CAMERA or similar item to measure distances or get pictures of your surroundings while hunting, the odds are good you’re using devices with ceramics built right in. These devices and their ceramic components are highly fragile and caution should be exercised while using them, lest they be dropped or otherwise injured.

When you take the time to look and really research, you see that ceramics are showing up in more and more fields these days than ever before. With new firing techniques, clay compositions, glazes and other features that improve the overall durability and lasting power of ceramics, the odds are good you will be seeing them showing up in more goods in the future. So, the next time you’re making something simple just for the sake of working with your hands and keeping your mind sharp, remember the potential which exists in that lump of material you’re using.

Read More

Ceramic Instruments

Posted by on Mar 10, 2015 in Knowledge | Comments Off on Ceramic Instruments

Ceramic Instruments

Throughout history, people have used various different materials to craft musical instruments. Some of these instruments still carry the names of the materials first used to make them too – like woodwinds for reed flutes and piccolos, or brass for different types of horns. Music has come from cat guts (violin strings and bows), wax cylinders and more over the years, but ceramics are poorly represented in the world of music. That’s not to say there are no ceramic musical instruments – there are and some will be named shortly. But compared to other materials, ceramics are used for making music and noise far less often.

The ocarina is a fine example of a ceramic musical instrument. It can also be made with wood, ivory, stone and a number of other materials, making it one versatile little instrument. They are small, usually small enough to hold in the palm of a single hand, and for all intents and purposes they look like flutes which are fat and round rather than thin and long. They make similar sounds too, so that comparison isn’t far off at all. This is a relatively common instrument too, and one you may have heard about before. But there are some ceramic instruments which you’ve likely never heard about before, and will now.

Take the didjeridas, or didgeridoo, for example. This long, horn-like instrument can draw its origins back to Australia and it is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world, being in use for literally thousands of years now. Some are actually made from horn, but there are quite a few ceramic pieces around too, and even studios which specialize in making them. Burnt Earth is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a ceramic didgeridoo or other musical instrument, and it’s just one of many different websites out there offering similar ceramic goods and services.

The doumbek is another ceramic instrument, though its origins are far from Australia. This instrument, popular in the Middle East and northern Africa, is a ceramic drum. You might think it dangerous to go pounding on something made from fired ceramics and if you were just talking about a statuette or some other small, dainty thing, your worries would be founded. However, these items are made thick, heavy and durable to stand up to such aggressive handling. The sound isn’t anything like other drums you may have heard – it’s quite a unique pitch and timber.

That’s three different ceramic musical instruments, and there are more out there. However, ceramics are still underused in music, especially when you compare them to instruments using other, more popular materials, like wood or brass. While you probably won’t get a ceramic instrument to reproduce sounds which come from a trumpet or any other horn, they do still make great drums and good instruments needing wind to produce their sound. I swear, when you consider all the applications of ceramics, especially those outside the realm of art, it’s amazing more people aren’t into ceramics.

Read More

Cooling off After Ceramics

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Daily Activities | Comments Off on Cooling off After Ceramics

Cooling off After Ceramics

Ceramics, both making them and marketing them, can be an exciting and entertaining prospect. They pose both an excellent way to improve one’s manual dexterity as well as a means to open up one’s artistic side and let it show. However, ceramics are complicated too, involving many delicate motions and movements of the hands, unless you’re doing something super simple like punching a dent in a lump of clay and calling it an ashtray. There’s the heat too, at least if you glaze and fire your own work when you’re done with the molding. Thankfully, you can cool off after ceramics with far less effort and precision.

Some people like a swim after doing something stressful, or going for a run. In this case, I’m talking about taking out your frustrations and other negative feelings on a BJJ DUMMY, or any other kind of combat dummy for that matter. Did your latest project not go so well? Maybe you miscalculated the firing temperature and destroyed a piece of art by cooking it too hot, or for too long. Whatever has you upset, once you’re done with your ceramics and you’ve cleaned up, you can punch, kick, elbow and otherwise abuse your training dummy – and it will never say a thing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Is this really a good idea? Shouldn’t you figure out what went wrong and learn how to fix it for next time, rather than just blowing off steam? I say, it’s important to get a clear head before you try to do any critical thinking, and this is probably the best way around for doing that. It’s quick, it’s easy and perhaps most important of all, nobody gets hurt – except for you, if you happen to be a little overzealous. Fortunately, these training dummies are useful for much more than just getting rid of excess anger.

You might not be a very physical person, but dummies like the ones mentioned so far are great training aids for those looking to learn how to fight, and that’s just one other use for them. Once you’re done working out your mind by trying to create something unique and special, you owe it to yourself to work out your body too. I mentioned one reason you might want to do this, but even if you aren’t upset or angry, you can still benefit from beating on a training dummy. They are very useful constructs, to be sure.

However you look at it, this is a great way to cool off after working with ceramics. It’s just plain old healthy too, both for getting out your grievances and giving your muscles a little workout as well. If you’re sick, or frail, or you can’t do this for some other reason, then that’s fine; everyone else might want to look into picking up a dummy though. You never know when life will throw you for a spin and get you all riled up, so they’re useful to have around even when you aren’t doing your ceramic work.

Read More

Ceramics as an Exercise for Body and Mind

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Knowledge | Comments Off on Ceramics as an Exercise for Body and Mind

Ceramics as an Exercise for Body and Mind

It’s kind of surprising how many fun activities can be used as a means of exercise in addition to entertainment. Sports of all kinds come to mind, but there are many activities besides the purely physical which fall into this category. For instance, ceramics is a creative feat which is good exercise for the mind, but which can also prove good exercise for the body as well. Have you ever tried hauling around 40 pound blocks of clay before? If you’re not used to it, you can get winded pretty fast – and even if you are that’s plenty of weight for a person to lift.

I’m not saying you should hook up your clay blocks to your home power rack or anything like that – though you could find some means of doing just that, I’m sure. What I’m saying is, moving your equipment around and getting set to start a session of crafting ceramics can be a workout in and of itself, including much heavy lifting, twisting, turning, dipping, bending and for some of us, sweating. It isn’t light work, regardless of what some would have you think. In fact, if you find me someone who says ceramics, pottery and the like are for wimps, I’ll find you someone with no experience in the field.

The physical aspect behind it should be pretty clear now. I don’t think I need to explain much about the mental side of ceramics though. The ability to freely create whatever comes to mind, as long as you have the skills to form the image you’ve imagined, is most liberating. Ceramics can be frustrating in equal amounts if you’re constantly trying to create something beyond your level of experience or talent, but this is not unique to ceramics by any means. Since that’s clear enough, I won’t spend overmuch time trying to explain it.

What I will do is take a moment to discuss the relationship between ceramics and pottery. While pottery is a field of its own, the term “pottery” has also been used previously and even today to describe the product created through ceramics. Likewise, ceramics has been used as a term to describe the various pots, urns and other objects crafted through pottery. There is a bit of confusion here, since the two terms are seemingly interchangeable, but it’s important to remember that ceramics and pottery still are not the same thing, exactly.

For one, pretty much anyone can grab a lump of clay, get it wet and stick it on a potter’s wheel to start molding something out of it. Creating high quality ceramics is something which takes much more time and practice, however. The products of ceramics are typically looked at as being higher-end or higher-quality goods than what you might get through pottery, as well. .Of course, this last bit is open to interpretation, but then so is so much else when you’re talking about the arts. One thing is for sure though – ceramics and crafting are good exercises for both the body and the mind.

Read More

The Long Journey Of Ceramics

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Spirit of Pottery | Comments Off on The Long Journey Of Ceramics

The Long Journey Of Ceramics

At our guild, the artists are ready to work on any type of project. When they are given the design or drawing, they set to work on it immediately. Often clients stay with the initial stages to help with the design doubts that may arise. Recently we had this order on making ceramic finger pieces that depicted nail art. The client, a nail art professional wanted the work to be displayed in her salon. She had detailed drawings on the type and form of the fingers and nail designs she wanted. While she was with us, she wanted to know more about how ceramics were made.

Ceramic evolution

Technology has made it possible for the ceramic industry to grow in leaps and bounds due to the extensive amount of knowledge that it has enabled to be accessible. With newer materials and methods the handling, making and finishing techniques have been honed and perfected. One instance of the rapid development in ceramics is the use of transistor in electronics.  The size has become so minute, but at the same time holds a vast amount of features that is quite unbelievable.

Advancements in Ceramics

Ceramics have undergone tremendous amount of changes with the way metal alloys have been developed. New materials that can operate under very high temperature and speed and have longer life and low maintenance are now possible, Metals have tensile strength, ductility, abundance and low production cost, while ceramics are brittle. With the technological advances, it is now possible to produce a blend of the two with the best characteristics of both in the blend. The resultant form is the tougher ceramic systems that are in use now like nitride ceramics.

Ceramic characteristics

The ceramics we use today are of intensive value in all engineering application and are considered as nontraditional. The traditional ceramics include brick, porcelain, earthenware etc. The advanced ceramics have metallic characteristics, making them perform high and be cost effective.  The technical ceramics include alumina, zirconia that are oxides and non-oxides like nitrides, borides, carbides and silicide and composites that are blends of oxides and non-oxide metals.

These have chemical inertness, high strength and great dimensional stability. The ceramic and composite blend is tough and has variable electrical, thermal conductivity and a complex manufacturing method, which makes it very expensive. The oxide forms are inert and used in electrical insulation and the alumina variety costs less while the zirconia is expensive. The low oxide ceramics are hard, inert, have high thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity, and are expensive.

We use metal clay for our models, which has ceramics blended with metal to enable better reproduction of the shape and design we want. The material has longer shelf life and very little wastage making it cost effective too. The finger models were made according to the client’s specifications and she was very happy and excited about having them on display at her salon and expected to get more customers just because of them. She mentioned that hers was a well-paid job that gave her much satisfaction.

Read More

Tracing History Of Ceramics From Pottery To Superconductors

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Knowledge | Comments Off on Tracing History Of Ceramics From Pottery To Superconductors

Tracing History Of Ceramics From Pottery To Superconductors

Occasionally we get some unusual requests from our clients. We recently got an order from one of our clients to make a ceramic model of a golf club. The client had wanted to gift the piece to his golf club friend. I’d become acquainted with the client, while I was playing at the golf club in our neighborhood.

There have been many improvements in golf as a sport. There are several new devices like, the range finder, to help you out with the game. The client had asked about how we made ceramic models and was very much interested in knowing on how it all started. Since it is a subject I love to speak about, I gave him a short account on the development of ceramics.

Ever since man found that clay can be used to make objects by mixing it with water and firing it, the ceramics started to play a vital role in human evolution. Ceramic is one of the ancient industries  in the world and its use is dated back to 24,000 BC, when it was used to create animal as well as human figurines. Originally man used clay and certain other materials to make the objects and fired them in kilns, which were dug in the ground partially. There are ceramic pieces depicting humans hunting for food.

Nearly 10,000 years after ceramics came into existence, tiles were created and vessels for storing water and food were made from them. Clay bricks were also used around that time. Glass was invented around 8000 B.C in Egypt. It is believed that the overheating of kilns had led to the formation of glazed layer on pottery. But this evolved into a more refined and quality item only in 1500 B.C.

And later on during Middle Age, the metal industry at its fledgling stage started using synthetic materials for melting the metal at high temperatures. This led to an industrial revolution in 16th century when refractories were used to melt glass and metal for use in industries and in the production of cement, coke, ceramics and chemicals.

In the middle of 1800’s another major shift in the development of ceramics occurred, when they were used for insulation of electrical wires. And the inventions that came on later like automobiles, televisions, radios and the present day computers also used ceramic and glass, making the material an important component. From the glass windows and alumina spark plugs in automobiles to the particulate filters in diesel engines and the high temperature superconductors used in 1980s, the ceramics have certainly evolved into a very significant and indispensable material.

The client was impressed with the history of ceramics and also by the model our artists had created. He was all praises for the work and invited me over for a game soon. He’s a professional golf player and as I’m still an amateur at the sport, playing with him would be useful, as I’d get some advice on the right shots and on using the new rangefinder devices I mentioned earlier. I’m looking forward to playing with him soon.

Read More

How To Buy The Best Ceramic Figurines

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Knowledge | Comments Off on How To Buy The Best Ceramic Figurines

How To Buy The Best Ceramic Figurines

With Christmas season nearing, the shopping spree starts with vigor. This year I decided that I’d gift ceramic figurines. Ceramic figurines are not only ornamental and add beauty to your home, but also have excellent value as some types are worth thousands of pounds. Ceramics especially the decorative forms can be seen widely in gift shops, and if you shop carefully you can get some splendid collector’s items.

While I’ve a big collection of my own, I hate parting with them. And moreover while I shop for the figurines, I can add some more to my collection. I’ve kept some of my treasured figurines in an artistic wooden display that has splendid curtains flanking it to give the figurines an added allure. My wife had done the curtains on her own with her new serger.

Shopping for ceramic figurines is not an easy job as you should have some knowledge about the figurines and the types available. I find many people enjoy collecting ceramic figurines. A collector’s item is distinguished by its unique design and beauty. Checking the quality is also difficult. Here are some tips on finding high quality ceramic figurines.

  • Fixing a budget is the first step, while you start looking for the figurines. Since the ceramic figurines are available readily in the market, it is easy to spend lavishly on these figurines. So keep an eye on the expenses.
  • Most manufacturers of figurines offer different varieties of the ceramic pieces at different price ranges. Some of the rare collections like Disney range are expensive as they are present in a limited number only. On the other hand, the pieces produced at a massive scale annually do not cost much. Knowing the exact value of a particular figurine will prevent you from being fleeced by the dealers. Learn about trademarks, the history and also other facts, so you can identify a collector’s item easily and also spot a fake, when you come upon one.
  • While there are the common ceramic pieces and the unique pieces, I think the choice of figurines is mostly based on personal preference only. While a collector’s item may be of high value, you may prefer a cute and relatively inexpensive Disney figurine.
  • To know about the figurines better, you need to get advice from experts. There are several books on ceramic figurines and even buying guides. You can find plenty of them online. There are forums and blogs dedicated to ceramics giving you great resources to learn from.
  • Some of the expensive and genuine ceramic items are sold along with authentication certificates. The artist or the manufacturer issues these certificates guaranteeing that the piece is genuine. If you find a certificate it shows that the item is a legitimate one and this will also come in handy in case of insurance issues, or if you want to sell the item to someone else later on.
  • The guides and price books of the figurines usually give the value as when it was minted. If you detect any discoloration or chip in the figurine it can diminish the value greatly. So you need to inspect the piece carefully for any imperfection before you buy it.
Read More

Skyrock Your Pottery Hobby with these Advices

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Knowledge, Spirit of Pottery | Comments Off on Skyrock Your Pottery Hobby with these Advices

Skyrock Your Pottery Hobby with these Advices

Nowadays people don’t have the time or the inclination to think of a hobby. They’re so busy with their work and personal life that time just flies away for them. I was mentioning this to my friend who was in a similar state. His work was full of stress and mostly he carried work home and was also occupied with work even on weekends. I warned him that this type of workaholic behavior would soon lead to a big burnout. I suggested he take up ceramic handcrafting as a hobby. Since I’m a pro at all things ceramic, I could give him the needed guidance and I also know that it is extremely soothing and refreshing having experienced the benefits myself.

I told him that in time he would find nothing interesting to him or about him, if he continued with this state of relentless pursuit. When we take up a hobby, you develop a multifaceted personality that people will find interesting and you yourself will find it extremely satisfying. And when you start something new, you never know what it’ll bring you. It may be new friends, a career or a new relationship.

Ceramics basics

Ceramics is basically creating artwork of non-metallic nature. You get to manipulate heat and its effect on clay with some tools and create excellent pieces of art and also objects that are of use in our day to day life. The most common byproducts when you take up ceramic as your hobby are glassware and pottery. The interest in ceramics may be of artistic nature or a practical one, but the main thing to focus here is the creation of beautiful ceramic pieces.

Equip with knowledge

To build your interest in pottery, you need to educate yourself on the background of ceramic. When you know details on how it started out initially and what types of materials and methods were used, you will feel more motivated into doing a good job on your own. Pottery is a very ancient art form dating back to Greece. As for the technical aspects, you can attend the local conferences on ceramics like those conducted by the American Ceramic Society. The society is of immense help to hobbyists who have an affinity for one of the oldest crafts to exist on earth.

Know the process

The ceramic pottery process is an easy to grasp one, once you get to know the steps involved. You can get familiar with the process with the help of the various pottery stores present in your locality. There are several stores specializing in ceramics alone present scattered throughout the United States. You can customize earthen ware and pottery with the assistance given by these stores. The stores give full access, so customers can educate and know more about ceramics and how to make them.

Take up a registered course

Most universities and colleges have special courses on ceramics. For those who have a professional degree already, such courses help in getting acquainted with the art form and make it a more interesting and productive hobby. I like pottery as it is very diverse and let’s your creative juice flow uninhibitedly – for example African pottery is beautiful in its form.

Preliminaries to have

To start with the hobby, you need shoes and old clothing and an oven or a kiln used in ceramic making. Select the paints, glazes and other tools you need for ceramic making. You can get everything you need at hobby shops, art stores and in the book stores attached to university. You need to have a kiln necessarily to start o the ceramic work. So ensure that you have proper access to the appropriate kiln. You can ask around on how to get a kiln. Once you have the kiln, you can start on collecting the supplies needed. For knowing about the cost of ceramics equipment, you need to assess the price for which you can get help from ceramic teachers.

Start with the sketches

Before going to the actual process, you should sketch the designs or accents you need to add to the ceramic piece. When you work on clay for instance, it can dry out easily. This will make it difficult to mold them into the shape and design you want to create. If you are not sure about the design you want to create and spend time on revising the design while working, the clay can dry out and cause problems. So start the design only after you have a final sketch ready.

Using clay for pottery

Clay can be either in refined form or powdered variety depending on the type of clay you purchase. A refined form of clay is preferred as it will not have any lumps that prevent you from working with it properly. You can also sieve the chunks, before start working with the clay.

In case of pottery, you need a wheel which is either operated electrically or manually. Throwing is the term used to form shapes in the clay, while it is placed on a wheel. Throwing needs skill and lots of practice. Initially you’ll find that it is difficult to grasp. But it’ll be great fun watch the clay take different and bizarre shapes in your inexperienced hands.

Before you remove the clay from the wheel, you can add on as many designs and patterns as you want using special design files. These are similar to nail files and are in a slender knife form, which makes it easy to make the patterns. The clay once formed to the desired shape should be dried and then fired in the kiln.

Starting out on a new hobby, especially when you’re too busy to afford it, can be frustrating and daunting too. But once you begin it, you find that it is certainly exciting. With pottery you get the same feeling. While the initial phases are easy to practice, you need patience, especially when you are doing the decorating and glazing. Once you get involved in the hobby, you’ll start taking more interest and find that you had added another exciting dimension to your life.

Read More