Introduction to Pottery

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Knowledge | Comments Off

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.

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Decorating and Glazing in Pottery

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in Pottery Decoration | Comments Off

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.

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Ceramics Usage in Modern Technology

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Knowledge | Comments Off

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.

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The Process of Making Ceramic Shoes

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Daily Activities, Pottery Decoration | Comments Off

The Process of Making Ceramic Shoes

Browsing through antique collector’s items always makes me nostalgic. The intricate designs and clever workmanship of the items leaves me stunned, especially, when I see the ceramic items. Ceramic is one of the most earliest forms used by humans and it still holds its allure in this technologically driven world.

I came upon a ceramic shoe in the shop and it caught my attention. The shoe looked real and very appealing. The out of box thinking in the creation had me wondering about the making. This spurred me on to know more about how these shoes are made. And I even tried them myself. I used Athletic Crossfit shoes as model for the ceramic shoes.

To start with, you need to create paper templates of all the parts of the shoe like the tongue, heel, sides, toe, sole etc. This will help in creating an exact replica of the shoe you use as model.

The creative process

You need to have the necessary tools ready at hand, before you start on the ceramic work. Scissors, rolling pin, slab roller, wooden tools, a clay cutting knife, sponge, pin tool, flexible rib and a miter tool or one with 45 degree bevel are needed.

•             Now start with a ball of clay. The clay needs to be rolled into a consistently thick slab using the roller.

•             Using the templates you have made, cut the shapes in the slab and store them in plastic wraps.

•             When the cut pieces of clay are stiff, but flexible enough to mold or in other words leather hard, you can start making the form of the shoe.

•             A process called score and slip is used. The areas that are to be fused should be scratched and with a bit of slip, which is actually clay of watery consistency, glued together so the individual parts are held tight.

•             The seams should be smoothed to get a good finish. Adding details when the clay is soft will give the shoe a more authentic and beautiful look.

Firing the shoe

Once the shoe is created with all find details included in it, it should be allowed to dry in a covered plastic bag with a small hole for air to circulate and dry it. This takes several days and when the shoe is fully dry (it is called Bone dry) it is bisque fired to get the water out completely and also to give it a solid shape.

When the shoe makes it out of the firing step intact without any blow-up, crack or breaks, you can add the regular or underglaze to give the required color. Once this is done the shoe is returned to the kiln to go through a second firing step, which is called glaze firing. Now it gets the final glossy and shiny look.

If you are wondering about the uses of the shoe, it can be used as planter, container, for holding a wine bottle, with a lamp as lighter or even as just a decorative piece in your living room shelf.

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The Making of a Dog Sculpture

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Spirit of Pottery | Comments Off

The Making of a Dog Sculpture

The idea of sculpting Jimbo just sprang in my mind one fine day, when I was playing with him in the garden. Jimbo and I have this rapport that makes us a great pair. Though he’s not that athletic as he once was, he still moves about with an enthusiasm in his own doggy way.

When the idea strengthened and egged me on, I decided to act on it. I had to rethink my decision, when I got a good look at Jimbo. He looked terrible. I don’t know how I’ve let him deteriorate so! It was then I thought that there are things that needed more attention than my passion for sculpting.

I called my friend, Paul, who is a mobile pet groomer. He has a solid income in his job, which surprised me a bit. I once looked in on what he did. It was certainly a good amount of buck for an easy looking job, if you ask me. Maybe I should ask him how to start a dog groomer career, if I’ll fail at what I do. Why I could’ve easily done all that he did, only I didn’t have the time for it, as I can see the state that Jimbo is in because of it. So I thought what he earned was after all worth it. Jimbo was given a thorough makeover and I couldn’t believe that he had so much potential. Now my sculpting idea sprouted again with vigor and I set on the task.

To make a clay dog, it helps if you know about the animal shape. The main work involves forming the basic shapes of the individual parts and assembling them. Once the basic form is arrived at, you can make your own additions to it to get a genuine look. Here’s how you do it.

•             There are colored clays available from which you can choose a suitable one for the dog you are making.

•             Roll the clay into sphere shapes for the head, body, legs, tail and ear and for the paws too.

•             For the body, make a pear shape that has bigger bottom and narrow top.

•             For front legs, roll the clay spheres lengthwise and stick to the front of the body.

•             For hind legs, the molding should be done first for the thighs as tear drop shapes and then the lower part and sticking them together first and then to the body. For the paws, use tiny clay spheres to make oval shapes.

•             A cone shape is needed for the head with one end being pointed in shape. Take a small clay bit, roll and flatten the bit, and stick to the pointed end to get the nose.

•             Above the nose make sockets for eyes. In the sockets stick the googly eyes.

•             Teardrop shaped spheres should be made for the ears.

•             Now fit the head shape to the narrow body part and pinch the clay in the fused area to merge it smoothly.

•             Take red colored clay and make a flat oval shape for the tongue and stick the tongue under the nose.

•             For the tail use another small clay sphere and attach it to the bottom of the body.

•             For spots use black clay or white and stick them on the hind part, the ears or wherever you want.

After letting it to dry for a day, your dog is all set to go.

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Creating Clay Pot Roaster

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Knowledge | Comments Off

Creating Clay Pot Roaster

I suddenly woke up on a sunny morning with the thought that my father’s birthday is just a couple of weeks away. And I haven’t yet decided on what to give him! This happens most of the time. I was going over the possibilities on what to get him, when I struck gold with the idea of a barbecue.

My dad loves barbecue. I remember when I was at school we’d have barbecue on all Sundays without fail. He did it so religiously that we’d all get caught up in his enthusiasm and pitch in. Not that he’d leave anything to us to do. From readying the fire to butchering and seasoning he’d pay close attention to everything. Now he doesn’t do it much with his arthritis acting up now and then.

I’d read about the clay pot smoker online and thought why not give it a try? It’d certainly make his day. He’d have a great time barbecuing and would certainly love it. Here are the steps for making the clay pot roaster.

  • The first thing to do is finding a hotplate for the heat source. The burner with the wiring can be removed and placed in a separate box with control knobs where the wiring is sufficiently protected.
  • The next step is to find a big flower pot made of clay that can hold the metal grid and is covered. The grill rack should be large enough to hold big chunks of meat and also fit well inside the pot.
  • The control box needs to be set up. For this you need assorted plastic rubber grommets for avoiding rubbing of the wires against the box and a good sized plastic box.  Holes need to be drilled for the power cord to enter in and an outlet for wires that connect the burner. Holes for temperature control also need to be drilled with the hotplate as template.
  • 2 wires of 6 feet length capable of withstanding high temperature should be connected with space connectors and threaded via the grommet, and attached to the wiring linked to the burner. The temperature control should be mounted to the lid and the box closed.
  • Since this smoker uses electricity, it does not smoke much like a charcoal, but nevertheless some space for airflow should be left. The smoker should be elevated by using red concrete blocks which are thinner than the regular red bricks.
  • The high temperature wire can be passed via the drain hole and attached to the burner in the pot.
  • For the wood, use cake pans and set them on the burner on which the wood can be smoked. By placing two halved pavers in an upright manner, and placing another pan on top, the drippings can be collected or also used to hold water, which increases the heat transfer easily.
  • The grill should be placed at least five inches below the pot rim, so the food cooked has good clearance.

Though the pot smoker works well, it does not measure up to the specialized apparatus for smoking meat available in the market. Even if the pot smoker looks charming, and brings back old memories, the efficiency needed for an authentic barbecue is sorely lacking in it.

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Crafting a Beautiful Woman Face

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Daily Activities, Knowledge | Comments Off

Crafting a Beautiful Woman Face

At a party recently, knowing about my interest in sculpting, a client approached me with her wish to sculpt a clay model of her face. Seeing her eagerness for the clay model, I accepted. It is extremely satisfying to work on clay and I feel a strong sense of connection all of which made me involve enthusiastically in the project.

We set up a date and time, and to her credit she arrived on time. I had all the material ready and started on the work.  With my hands in the clay, I think back on the way I’d learnt the sculpting a few years back. The face sculpting drew me because of my interest in the human anatomy. The lines and angles of the face are so intricate that it requires great skill to replicate them. I’d had a great time learning the sculpting and it was lot of fun too.

Coming back to the present, the client had a beautiful face with sharp features and a slender neck. Her trim and fit body had me asking her about how she keeps it in shape. She replied, ‘I go to gym regularly. And I also never forget my keen protein powder’. Now that I had her secret, I’d surely spread word around about it.

The sculpting soon got completed. She was awed at the finished work and praised the end work a lot. Sculpting is not a backbreaking procedure. You will do it with elegance when you know the process completely and have a good amount of practice, which is the fun part actually. Here are the steps involved.

•             You need a ball of clay, garlic press and sculpting tools to start

•             Roll the ball of clay into an oval shape. The shape depends on the face you want to sculpt. A smooth and definite shape will make the other steps easier.

•             Now separate the face into sections with a rubber ended tool. For symmetry, draw a vertical line in the middle and a horizontal line at the eye level, one at the bottom of nose and another at the mouth level.

•             Slope the neck part out, so the face can sit comfortably on a table while working.

•             Using the knife, cut on the clay until you get the desired form.

•             The excess clay can be used for making the form of mouth, nose and ears.

•             Smooth the features so they fuse well together.

•             For the hair use the garlic press and make clay hair. For long hair, you need to use extra clay. Place the hair on the head. The head can be left as such without the hair too.

•             Leave the face to dry till it is hard and unpliable.

Painting the head

Once the clay has hardened, you can paint it and add your own creative touches. Now leave some time for it to dry and coat a solution of water and glue to protect the paint. You face is ready. It is also possible to create sad, happy, funny and any other expression you want. A little knowledge about the face structure, basic sculpting technique and a lot of enthusiasm are all that you need to get it right.

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How Blog Members Delivered Beautiful Ceramic Plant Pots

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in Pottery Decoration | Comments Off

How Blog Members Delivered Beautiful Ceramic Plant Pots

As you know, this blog is dedicated to all things ceramics and in this blog post I want to talk about how excited I was to receive about three boxes of ceramic plant pots from my favorite retailer, Plantozoid through their blog members. It didn’t take long for the plant pots to be delivered and once I received them, I got right to planting my vegetable and herb seeds with my teenage daughter’s help. The ceramic plant pots came in a variety of patterns ranging from floral to animal print, and I ordered ceramic plant pots of different sizes since I wanted to plant tall and short plants in my hard along with small herb plants in the kitchen.

We First Started With The Tomatoes

The first thing we planted using the new ceramic plant pots were our Roma tomatoes. We fertilized and watered the tomatoes over a period of weeks and then we transferred the plant from the pots to the ground. A few weeks later, I went out in the yard to check on the Roma tomatoes and I saw the abundant harvest of them on the vines. My teenage daughter took plenty of photos of the newly planted tomatoes. We collected the tomatoes and spent the rest of the day making tomato preserves and canning them.

Moving On To The Green Onions

We then got a few of the beautiful ceramic pots that were delivered by the blog members and my teenage daughter is crazy about green onions since she started learning to cook entire meals by herself. She painted the outside of the plant pots in geometric shapes then we patted down the soil and added some water and fertilizer before adding in the green onion seeds. Within months we harvested about four bags of green onions to last us through part of next year.

Ceramic Plant Pots Are Not Just For Gardening

Flower Pot

These plant pots are also great for other purposes besides gardening. Since it was close to Easter, my teenage daughter and I laid some artificial grass in the bottoms of the plant pots and then we laid down pieces of dyed cloths before adding some packaged candies. Another thing we did was use the pots as storage for our garden supplies and it made for a less cluttered yard.

Check this video for some tips on how to make a ceramic flower pot. This is the same technique as we used.

Conclusion

Ceramic plant pots are sturdy, durable and can be used to plant just about anything. I use them for outdoor and indoor planting and these plants inspired my daughter to do more gardening of her own during the summer. The pots can be painted or marked on for decorative purposes and they are of high quality. With these pots we can also create crafts and I even gave a few extra plant pots away to neighbors who were planting for the first time. The ceramic pot plants are affordable and I buy them in bulk a few times a year. Finally, I enjoy them a lot and it makes my gardening more efficient.

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