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

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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.

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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.

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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.

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Ceramic and wood combos as ideal holiday gifts

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Art | Comments Off on Ceramic and wood combos as ideal holiday gifts

Ceramic and wood combos as ideal holiday giftsEven ceramicists, commercial or expressionistic, and good old-fashioned cabinet makes need a break. At around this time or in a matter of days for others who can’t seem to stop doing what they love, most artists will be downing their tools for a good cause. The celebration of Christmas is probably more traditional than religious for most secular Britons today. Also, British urban society, particularly in and around London, is through heritage and history more multicultural than most urban centers and cities from around the world. Invariably, non-Christians also willingly join in the festivities and cheer.

A reflection of culture

The UK’s diverse cultures are generally reflected in the woodcrafts and ceramic works of art produced by both amateur and professional artists. That being said, these same artists are willingly taking their holiday break, not just to rest and spend time with family and friends, but also because they have met their targets in supplying the general public with more than enough inspirational ideas in that other challenging art of giving. The artists are also able to observe the festivities up close, and the moment they return to their studios, they will have already begun chiseling and molding while their new set of inspirational ideas are still fresh in their minds.

Because time was always a factor, wood sculptors have been able to successfully adapt to the turning mechanisms of the sculpting wood lathe which was manufactured with art and creativity in mind. Never sacrificing their integrity as artists, they nevertheless managed to mass-produce for the holiday shoppers, perhaps making it more difficult to make discerning and considerate choices when it comes to buying gifts for loved ones.

Popular choices

The same criteria have applied to the British ceramicists for centuries now. Today, no-one needs to be reminded of the legacies and traditions of ceramic art left by the master craftsmen of old. Today, remnants of British culture and history can still be seen in modernistic and sustainable constructions, from marbled halls of state of the art apartment complexes to the high-rise office blocks. On more intricate levels, this is seen in the way something as small as a bathroom tap has been finely crafted and coated.

At this time of the year when folks finally go out to do their Christmas shopping, they are spoilt for choice, and no matter what they have in mind to buy, the influence and impression left by ceramicists and woodcrafters is seen in pretty much everything on the shelves before the shoppers’ eyes. Something as humble as a wooden salad bowl with accompanying spoon and fork for tossing leaves is always a popular choice for those who have practicality and usefulness in mind. For those who only have love in their hearts, ceramic vases of all shapes and sizes are also popular.

They say Christmas is a time for giving. Ceramicists and their fellow-artists can put their feet up for now because they have given more than enough this time around.

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How Blog Members Delivered Beautiful Ceramic Plant Pots

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in Pottery Decoration | Comments Off on How Blog Members Delivered Beautiful Ceramic Plant Pots

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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Going back to our roots to create great works of art

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Art | Comments Off on Going back to our roots to create great works of art

Going back to our roots to create great works of art is actually an essential tool of trade for artists in general and no less so for ceramicists. Being in touch of who you are as an artist and culturally tuned in human being is a continuous source of inspiration and new modeling ideas. As creative people say; the well never runs dry.

And when the urn is dry on a given day, it may well be time for the ceramic artist to begin worrying. Has he lost his creative spark? And does he need a new lease of life to reignite the old flame?

The well never runs dry

This dilemma is an occupational hazard that does at some stage or another in the artists’ lives affect any one of them. But, this does not happen often. Ceramicists, in particular, know what needs to be done next. By nature, they are also entrepreneurs, so standing still for long periods of time is not part of their job description. Arbalist Zone is just one of the many other places that artists like ceramicists find themselves at. In the case of this website, it turns out that the practice of using crossbows is very much part of their cultural landscape.

In fact, we can go as far as to say that it is an important part of their cultural heritage. We have mentioned this before; standing about in wonderment is also not part of the ceramic artist’s workmanlike scheme of doing things. Rather than admiring the ancient hunting tools that their forefathers once used, you can expect them to actually try using the instruments as well. As artists, it’s essential to truly immerse themselves in what they are observing, touching and, in this case, using.

Legends as a source of inspiration

To explain the artist’s involvement, say, getting to the root of whom they are and where they’ve come from, we can also take a different path and describe the process another way. Let’s also use the example of an avid writer, worth the words he puts to paper.

Like ceramic artists, research and story development is an important process for the astute writer. Like ceramicists, the writer will be poring over volumes of other written works as part of his extensive research. And like these pottery experts, you can also expect the writer to actually involve himself in some role-playing to help him get to know his fictional characters.

Finally, we can also make a direct correlation with UK writers and their pottery peers. Their countryside is a rich reservoir of cultural inspiration and fresh ideas.

Let’s close this post inspirationally then. These writers and ceramicists will have thought about this along the way; think about legends such as King Arthur and Robin Hood. And think about how many stories have been written and pots have been crafted bearing the mark of these legends.

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Never limit your artistic and creative range

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in Creativity | Comments Off on Never limit your artistic and creative range

The best most experienced and creative ceramicists will tell all new potters and molders not to limit their artistic and creative range. The same principle applies to the practice of writing, painting and playing musical instruments such as pianos, classical guitars or maple-wood violins. The most creative online article writers will be applying their mind to generating new short stories or working on poetry. Painters experiment with as broad a range of colors and brush techniques as possible in order to find a new outlet from their tried and tested commercial niche. To lighten their moods, classical pianists can play jazz or pop tunes as well.

Varying the scenes and settings

Commercial ceramicists will continue to build a variety of structures that enjoy appeal with their regular clientele. The most reputable ceramicists are always pushing new limits by working with new materials, varying the size of their models and testing different drying techniques, processes and times. These examples demonstrate just how important it is for artists in general to continue varying their repertoire in order to keep their creative minds fresh and stimulated.

This approach invariably sparks new ideas worth exploring. And while working in their studios or studies, artists also make a concerted effort to broaden their creative work-shopping exercises outside of the studio. For instance, potters may derive most of their inspiration from their own gardens, provided that they are extensive and rich in its variety of plant species. Those who do not have the benefit of such diversity will move further from their domestic environment until the right inspiration is felt. Some artists on the other hand, writers in particular, correctly argue that routine is the best medicine for them.

The importance of using all the senses

Routine in general has been found to be beneficial psychologically, but the creative minds of artists are usually restless and never entirely satisfied with familiar surroundings. Ceramicists, sculptors and painters continue to cross-pollinate their work in order to maintain the highest artistic standards possible. For instance, before beginning the molding and kilning process, the potter will have made up a series of sketches. Painters, on the other hand, push their skills of observance to the limit by using all of their physical senses. The same goes for creative writers.

Musicians are primarily motivated by sound but will always make use of literature to source new lyrical and song-writing ideas. From an early age, children are taught to make extensive use of all their senses. Coincidently, they are given bowls or boards of clay to experiment or play with from their earliest school grades. Parents who have the best intentions in regard to their children’s development often do not wait for them to receive their next lesson and introduce them to new outlets of artistic expression such as the instruments listed on this website.

So, whether you are young or old, experienced and gifted, or just starting out as a potter, do not ever limit your artistic and creative range to what you are comfortable and familiar with. Always push new boundaries.

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Decoupage On Pottery Items

Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in Ceramics, Pottery Decoration | Comments Off on Decoupage On Pottery Items

The most beautiful thing about self-made ceramics is the ability to create usable, useful and unique work from beginning to end. Whether you’re making a plate, vase, candlestick or anything else, they are completely your work from start to finish. Some ceramic objects do not need additional embellishment. For example, a vase of an unusual shape. However, some simple shapes and objects made of ceramics require little embellishment. One of the easiest ways to decorate your masterpiece made of ceramics is the use of decoupage techniques.

Decoupage is an old technique of decorating hard surfaces that give you endless possibilities. You can use it on any solid surface – from ceramic objects to the wood. It implies the coating with paper pictures or napkins. Before you start to decorate your pottery, it is best to study it. Observe the edges, assess absorption and roughness. Prepare it with sanding and paint in appropriate color. Only then you are switching to decoration.

For decorating with decoupage techniques you need the following:

  • The thing that you want to decorate. This can be a ceramic object that you have created, or even ceramic tiles in your bathroom. Simple monochrome ceramic tile or a board with regular or irregular edges can become an interesting wall painting. You just have to decorate it, make a simple frame that will not distract the attention from your masterpiece and hang it on the wall.
  • Tools. It is impossible to do anything with bare hands. You need a tool for decoupage. In this case, these are various brushes, sponges for application of glue and collecting of excess glue, scissors and scalpels for cutting, a small roller with which you will flatten a surface that you decorate. To make objects that will decorate, you will need other tools. Let’s say, for making the frame in which you will put your picture made on the ceramic tile, the practical framing nailer can be of great use. It can significantly save you time and effort.
  • Motives that you will use for decoration. You can cut them from newspapers or paper napkins, or use the images that you find on the Internet and print on paper.
  • Glue and varnish. To put a paper to ceramics, you must first apply a glue. Today, you can find a special glue that is used for this purpose. When you’re all done, you need to apply the layer of varnish. The varnish will give a shine to your work, but also to protect from scratches the image that you’ve put on it.

There is not a thing that you cannot embellish in this way. And best of all, it is almost impossible to make two identical things, especially if you’re creating your own pottery. Human hands always make mistakes. However, these mistakes are not flaws, but the seal of uniqueness. Decoupage is an easy, inexpensive and very effective way to show your imagination and creativity and to make ordinary things in a real pottery masterpiece.

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Ceramics Around The Home

Posted by on Oct 31, 2015 in Ceramics | Comments Off on Ceramics Around The Home

Ceramics Around The Home

We’ve covered many different uses for ceramics on this blog, as well as businesses and trades where ceramics and ceramic goods are a major part of the picture. But what about ceramics you can find around your home? The odds are good there are some ceramics around your home, both inside and out. These could be in the kitchen, the bathroom or the floors, or even on the outside of the house, like in the case of ceramic doorbells and doorbell frames. First, let’s talk floors, since ceramic tiles can be found pretty regularly on the floors of homes all over the world.

Because ceramics don’t hold onto water like carpeting or untreated wood would normally do, you will often find ceramic tiles or similar flooring in places which are regularly wet. Kitchens and bathrooms in restaurants and homes are typically the places where the most running water can be found in a given day. This is why you see lots of ceramic tile floors in places like these. Vinyl tiles could do the job in some instances, but they really don’t hold up against extreme temperatures well without melting, so they’re pretty much useless in places which get very hot, like kitchens.

Doorbells were mentioned too, and that’s another place where you can find ceramics around your home. The frame for a doorbell is often used as a decorative piece for most homes, as a sort of way to dress up the front door. You don’t see this as often with wireless doorbells, like these, which are all about ease of installation and use. The houses which do feature them seem to be older homes as a rule, but with the way design schemes and styles keep rotating in and out of vogue, it’s probably only a matter of time before people start using ceramic doorbell plates regularly again.

If you have any pet fish or drive a vehicle of any kind for work, recreation or just to move around faster, the odds are good you have another location (or two) where you could find ceramics in and out of your home. Many fish tanks, or at least the larger ones, come with these things called canister filters which are just basically water filters shaped like cans and made from ceramic material. And ceramics can be found on every spark plug in just about every motor and engine you can find, including cars, trucks, vans and bikes.

We do like to talk about ceramics here, so if you have anything to add on the topic, please feel free to comment. We probably missed a handful of places where ceramics or ceramic materials can commonly be found in and around homes. And maybe we did that on purpose to try and stimulate some conversation here. Just to name a few and prove it, planters, paints and lighting fixtures are three other common places to find ceramics and there are far more which have yet to be named, so don’t be shy.

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Creative Inspiration From Nature

Posted by on Nov 10, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Creative Inspiration From Nature

Even while observing industrial use ceramic objects, have you ever wondered where designers and manufacturers find their inspiration to create functional materials, large and small, which you may invariably be seeing on a regular basis during your daily routine.

It is one thing to say that urban art draws its inspiration from most forms of city and cultural life. But where have the original seeds germinated?

Perhaps today’s modern architectural designs are the best examples of this. In light of the concerted drive towards environmental sustainability, the best designs are not only aesthetically pleasing to look at; they also blend in creatively and deliberately with natural surroundings, particularly the elements.

Where natural inspiration begins

owl-287019_1280If you are just starting out as a ceramic designer at home, making mainly pottery, you may be the first to admit that you will be stepping outside into your own garden to take a look around you.

Researching dozens of art books and scanning websites for functional designs and ideas is one thing, but the best source of inspiration could be found right outside your door. The next time you do step outside; don’t forget to take your sketch pad with you.

Industrial design artists are mostly seen with sophisticated digital cameras to observe, view and capture precise interpretations of their surroundings. But the creative process of settling down on your porch step or lawn chair and sketching with your own hands what you see and smell, enhances your experience as a ceramic artist and will inevitably lead to the creation of something original which has the stamp of your own personality and feelings all over it.

Natural inspiration is far beyond your walls. So, set aside a weekend and take a drive into the lush, green countryside.

Become part of nature

Apart from closely observing, touching and inhaling all of your new natural surroundings, you could take the creative process a step further by immersing yourself more in these surroundings and wholly becoming part of it. Fair to say, most great artists have done this. Nature’s flora and fauna may be wild at heart but as the designated custodian, you still have an advantage, in spite of dangers and depending on how far you are prepared to go to satiate your artistic curiosity.

Of course, you’re going to have to be well prepared, particularly during the early stages of your creative journey. Depending what role you are prepared to adopt during your excursion, you could begin by visiting websites such as these to see what you’ll need. By now, you will have already packed your sketch pad, pencils, charcoal and, indeed, your camera.

Before long, you will have enough material to keep you busy throughout the winter months. Once you’ve finished crafting your first pot, you don’t need to wait long before the next idea comes to you. It’s already there.

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Creating a Safe Environment To Work In

Posted by on Nov 9, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Creating a Safe Environment To Work In

clay-figure-198644_1280One of the first exercises you will be carrying out when setting up your first workshop to start your new pottery habit is to make your working environment as safe as possible.

This environment is usually your own private enclave in which you can place as much concentration into what you are trying to create. But in the domestic environment, this is not always easy to achieve, particularly if you have a family.

Someone is bound to invade your private space, whether to call you in for dinner, or to proudly share a piece of good news.

Safety procedures

The most important safety aspect is making sure your work room is locked tight after you have finished up for the day. Harmful toxins abound in this creative working environment. So too, some of your latest creations which need time to set. Ventilation and temperature is also important, so make sure that these factors are set to specifications. Before leaving your shed at night, make sure that all tools are cleaned and stored away. Make sure that containers of paints and lacquers are also shut tight and stored away in hard to reach places. This measure is necessary when children are part of the household.

Creating a sanitary environment

Where cleaning tools and surfaces are concerned, make sure that the basins in which you do your washing up are properly sanitized and thoroughly cleaned up after utensils are cleaned and dried. Because the emphasis is on creating a sanitary environment and creating crafted goods that are unspoiled by harmful toxins and excessive dust particles, you could give consideration to installing an industrial use water softener filter. It’s also possible to install one filter for the entire household but ideally you will be using qualified maintenance technicians for this task.

The importance of clean water

It is not immediately noticed by the naked eye but water has an important role to play in the creation of ceramic products. To counter the harmful and poisonous toxins that are used during industrial manufacturing processes, the quality of water used is vital. On the much smaller scale of your pottery workshop, this is as important. Having a water softener installed will go some way in helping to make sure that your drying articles solidify perfectly.

It will also go far in creating the ideal sanitary working environment. To reflect on just how acute the problem of impure water is, think about those old baths and basins which had grime and rust stains on them. On closer examination, you may have experienced some form of irritation during your bathing ritual. These are the telling signs of toxic, dirty water.

Good health is important too

Pottery draws on all your resources, emotionally, mentally and physically. It is therefore essential that you make sure that you are in good condition for long hours of working alone in your shed. While you are about it, don’t forget to step outside, take a break and take in a deep breath of fresh air.

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Where You Won’t Find Ceramics

Posted by on Nov 7, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering, Ceramics, Daily Activities, Knowledge | Comments Off on Where You Won’t Find Ceramics

Where You Won’t Find CeramicsWe often talk here about ceramics, their uses and the different places and machines where you might find ceramics or ceramic components. But what about places where you won’t find ceramics? Porcelain and similar materials have their uses, and they are very good for a limited number of applications. However, ceramics aren’t any kind of perfect material without flaws or problems. We have addressed some of these in the past, and you can bet that among the reasons for ceramics not showing up in some of the places we’ll outline, you’ll be seeing a few old favorites popping up once more.

For one, ceramics are awfully fragile when compared to components made from metal, or even plastic pieces in some cases. Ceramics don’t stand up to shaking, rattling and other blunt force very well, though they do make for some good body armor thanks to the way they disperse incoming energy. You won’t find ceramics in hammers, wrenches or long pole saws because they’re just too fragile for such rough usage. Designing ceramic sheets to break and reduce damage from a bullet is all good, but you wouldn’t want your tools going to pieces on you during a project, so you won’t find ceramics there.

Similarly, you won’t find ceramics in sleeping arrangements like mattresses and box springs. Mattresses have been made from all kinds of materials, from fabric and padding to simple bags stuffed full of straw or corn silk. Some box springs are even made out of cardboard in the case of very cheap bed sets. But even that cardboard will hold up to the tossing, turning and rolling of a sleeping body better than ceramics would. That would almost be like sleeping on a bed of nails after you’d chipped or cracked enough of the ceramic parts, very painful and not at all recommended.

jugs

Oddly enough, while you’ll often find ceramics in the floors of buildings or rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, ceramics tend to play a miniscule role in furniture. It’s really more for dolls and figurines rather than chairs, couches or beds, though the latter was already mentioned above. A thick piece of solid ceramic material is a ton heavier than even dense, sturdy wood, so that probably has a lot to do with this. Being fragile doesn’t matter at all if something is so heavy it’s unwieldy to move around and use in the first place, right?

Well, these are just a few of the places where you shouldn’t expect to find ceramics in any capacity. It’s not quite what we usually talk about here, but knowing where you won’t see ceramics tells you more about the material, and it’s kind of an educational experience because of that. If there’s anything we love here, it is educating people about all the different applications for ceramics and the myriad ways to use them. But it would be silly to ignore the places where they can’t be used just to make a point or push an agenda, now wouldn’t it?

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Ceramic-Based LED Lighting

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering, Knowledge | Comments Off on Ceramic-Based LED Lighting

Ceramic-Based LED LightingCeramics don’t conduct electricity like copper or gold components do, but it’s that lack of conductivity and resistance to the high temperatures which tend to come with active electrical circuits which make ceramics an excellent material to use as the base or backing for LED lighting systems. Ceramics don’t melt like plastic at higher temperatures, and they tend to be far more durable than their cheaper plastic counterparts. There is a trade-off for this boosted level of quality though, and it comes in the form of increased production costs and a different kind of fragility, though it isn’t heat, which is good.

For one, ceramics just don’t stand up to blunt force trauma or sudden, serious impacts very well. A set of ceramic LED lights falling from a ceiling some four meters to the floor below would probably be a broken, shattered mess where a system with a plastic base would have a couple of broken or loose bulbs but still work for the most part. The increase cost to manufacture ceramic systems over plastic ones means they will cost more for consumers in the store too, and the actual difference in price over cheaper plastic lighting sets is enough to push ceramic lighting out of strict, low budgets.

Compared to plastic LED lights, ceramic lights are also significantly heavier. The base material is much denser, so it only makes sense that it has more weight to it than the lighter, flimsier plastic. Barring any accident like a mount screw coming loose or the owner dropping the lights on the floor, the heavier, sturdier ceramic backing will have a longer consumer life and give you more for your dollar than the plastic LED systems. There are good and bad points about both types of LED lighting systems, but the best value will depend on what needs you’re trying to meet specifically.

If you’re looking for portability and you don’t care about the lasting power of your lights, plastic is probably a better choice for you in the long run. It’s nowhere near as heavy as ceramics in most cases, and that means you don’t need to do as much work to secure a plastic fixture before you use it, which can take a lot of time and work out of the process for you. On the other hand, ceramic LED lights are going to last longer as a given unless some accident occurs.

Consider the environment where you plan to use your LED lighting. If you’re looking at a greenhouse with LED lights specifically for growing plants, you’ll probably want to use a ceramic base because it will hold up against the intense heat better than plastic, allowing you to run your lights for longer before you need to give them some time to cool down. Last, but certainly not least, keep the price in mind. Ceramics are generally more expensive, but there can be some very costly plastic setups as well. If you do nothing else, just don’t buy the first thing you see.

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Hazards in dealing with ceramics

Posted by on Nov 1, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering, Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Hazards in dealing with ceramics

While pottery is considerably less harmful when compared to other workplaces, some of the materials used in pottery can cause illness and hazards. Knowing about such materials will help you avoid them and make your workplace safe, especially if kids are involved in the ceramic creation.

Children have for a long time safely played with clay and made beautiful things out of clay, but this has been possible because of handling the involved materials with common sense and respect.  Here are some of the hazards associated with ceramic pot creation

Lead poisoning

Lead is a very dangerous material, especially when ingested or breathed in. It is released from firing into air, when painting or glazing is done on the ceramic. Using a ceramic pot or mug glazed with lead in it can be toxic. Although most of the ceramics used now do not contain lead, sometimes the lead may be added accidentally which can lead to serious effects.

The lead in the glaze is absorbed by any drink or food that is acidic. Coffee or tea cups and serving dishes are mostly made of ceramic. These look beautiful and are preferred by all in both cold and hot weather.

Lead is used in such utensils because it helps to speed up the melting of the glaze, so any color can be added easily. If you are buying ceramic items while on a vacation abroad, make sure you test for lead. The test kits are inexpensive and purchased easily.

While ceramics are used in almost all spheres of life from simple household pottery to highly advanced space technology there hasn’t been much research on the hazards they produce. Even modern day mountain skis have ceramic in them to enable better safety and performance. Choosing an efficient Mountain Ski, helps to have a better experience on the slopes.

Ceramic paint

White color paint had lead carbonate in it earlier. Lead oxide was used to add red color. This paint when it is washed down by rain can contaminate soil and cause harm to children affecting their intelligence and also cause other dangerous symptoms.

Materials to be used with caution

The following materials are hazardous and should be used with care. Inhaling the fumes or ingesting them should be avoided.  While the materials do not generally produce any hazards when fired properly in glazes, you still need to be careful while using them.

Borax, cadmium, beryllium, cobalt, selenium, chromium, copper, potassium, nickel, zinc, vanadium and potassium dichromate are the materials to be used with care.

Toxins formed during firing

Materials such as chlorides, fluorides, sulfides, and carbonates can form toxic fumes when they are fired. Impure clay, fluorspars, gypsum, cryolite, crude feldspars and a few other materials have the above materials.

The ball clay commonly used in pottery contains dioxin, which releases fumes on firing. These get deposited in blood and causes serious problems. Dioxin inhalation occurs when people fire ceramic pieces in their home basement in kilns, which are not vented. Knowing the materials, and processes that release the toxins, help in taking proper precautions such as wearing protective gear, using right equipment and a proper studio for the ceramic creation.

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Ceramics and Wood

Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in Ceramics | Comments Off on Ceramics and Wood

At a glance, they might not appear to be two materials which could be combined to make something useful. Ceramics are generally fragile and prone to chipping, while wood is one of the most flammable things in the world and sometimes difficult to work with due to its density, as in the case of ebony wood. However, it’s possible to not only craft these two materials together, but also to get something of utility from the process. For a few minutes, let’s take a closer look at ceramics and wood, along with what can be made from these two things.

Have you ever heard of ceramic spoons? You can find different varieties of these if you really look. For instance, Chinese soup spoons are rather large spoons made entirely from ceramic ingredients, sometimes with rice fired in the mold to lend decoration to the item. In Europe and much of the Western world, ceramic spoons still come with ceramic bowls at the end of the handle, but the handles are actually made from some sort of durable, dense wood instead. They look a fair bit different, but it doesn’t do much to make them less fragile. Sometimes they are called bread spoons too.

It might seem counter intuitive to the flammable nature of wood, but the material can be combined with a ceramic cup shape to create a candleholder or candle stand if you prefer. The ceramic nub attached to the block of wood prevents the fire from ever touching it, so the whole wood burning thing isn’t such an issue. You can find good examples of these online with ease. Cutting the wooden bases from whole logs would be easy enough with a splitter to break the wood first. It may not be practical, but you can look at http://logsplitterpro.com/ to see more about these devices.

Because they break the wooden log into halves and can then further break those halves into smaller sections, log splitters are excellent for anyone who needs to process a great deal of wood quickly. You could even use one to cut a whole log into circles or discs rather than just splitting the thing right up the middle. A high quality gas log splitter would do the job as well as an electric model, though you could probably skip such devices and do the chopping yourself if you have a nice axe, saw and sander to work with.

As for other crafts which combine wood and ceramics, the list isn’t finished yet. One thing which hasn’t been covered yet though is how using wood as the fuel source when firing ceramics produces some high quality work just waiting to be finished. Also, it’s a bit less common in art, but there is a specific technique called trompe l’oeil which creates illusory 3D effects using different materials, often a combination of ceramic and wood parts to make the final piece. It’s kind of fascinating how many different ways ceramics and wood can be combined together to make something unique and new.

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Ceramics in Drones & UAVs

Posted by on Oct 21, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering | Comments Off on Ceramics in Drones & UAVs

Ceramics in Drones & UAVs

You might not think it to look at a drone or quadcopter, but many of those large, metallic flying machines actually have ceramic components inside of them. Specifically, silicon nitride has been turning heads for years and appears to be an excellent ceramic material in the manufacture of high-efficiency engines, like the kind you might find in some of the larger drones and quadcopters available on the market. This particular ceramic material has a great level of stability even when exposed to high temperatures. It’s also highly resistant to corrosion, which again is important in any engine or motor.

As a quick side note, you actually find ceramics in a lot of machines, especially vehicles. Practically every spark plug in every car, truck, van and jeep around the world has some ceramic components because they are very resistant to wear in general. Studies have been done on the reliability of ceramics, and wouldn’t you know it, ceramics happen to be some of the most reliable materials in the world when it comes to lasting ability and resistance to wear, weather and heat. Considering that any quadcopter would have an engine which was constantly running when in use, ceramics might work there too.

There’s actually a study to that effect as well. It’s not exactly recent news, but Oregon State University did a pretty intense study on the use of powder injection molded silicon nitride as a material for major components inside of drones, or UAVs as they were referred to in the study. A UAV is any Unmanned Flying Vehicle, which doesn’t mean there isn’t actually a person controlling it, because that would be silly. They just aren’t on board the vehicle. This is one major misconception about drones, but it’s built right into the name and hard to avoid. Read more about quadcopters, drones and other UAVs right here.

Because of how well they work in electrical components like spark plugs, it stands to reason that ceramics might find their way into similar spots in other engines. While it’s true that your typical quadcopter or drone doesn’t run on gasoline and therefore doesn’t need that initial spark to start the combustion reaction and create propulsion, the electric engines of today have an even greater need for materials that interact well with electricity. That means ceramics may actually see more use, not less. You can expect to see ceramic components inside of any decent quadcopter you find.

While ceramics are excellent for insulating electrical components in engines, they are still fairly fragile. A nice impact with another vehicle or a sudden drop off an elevated surface will probably crack, chip or outright break ceramics in vehicles, even today. Not that people are going to be flying their quadcopters or drones into buildings or do suicide dives into the Earth with them, though some probably will either by mistake or intentionally. Ceramics are cheap, readily available and useful for fulfilling this purpose, so they probably aren’t going to be cut out of engines any time soon.

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The Challenge of Mixing Wood with Ceramics

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on The Challenge of Mixing Wood with Ceramics

The Challenge of Mixing Wood with Ceramics

Ceramics and wood have a number of things in common. For starters, they have been gifted to humanity to use as they see fit. Fortunately, ceramic materials and wood cuts have been put to good use. At a glance, it may not be possible to appreciate all the inherent benefits of materials which have its origins in the earth. But do not be overwhelmed by such abundance. Simply breath in, pause for thought and take a long, slow look at your surroundings, whether you are indoors, standing in your kitchen or living room, in the classroom, on the factory floor or in your office cubicle.

Standing the test of time

After just a couple of minutes you will soon notice the positive impact wood and ceramics has had on your life. For most people, home is the center of their universe. Taking that into account, the observant eye notices how many American homes are still being built with wood, even in part. Also, no kitchen or bathroom is complete without its tiles which provide functional benefits beyond being pleasing to look at.

Where aesthetics is concerned, the use of ceramics and wood has been dominant throughout human history. Today, we do not even need to look beyond our own backyard to marvel at the natural beauty of its trees, even when bare during winter. One soon begins to appreciate that in spite of both the forces of nature and man’s own penchant for destroying things of beauty over and above creating it, wood can and has stood the test of time.

Art history

So too, ceramics. Ask anyone who has been abroad to parts of Europe or the Indian sub-continent, and one of the first things they will gush about is the awesome magnitude of both Roman and Greek architecture as well as the unsullied splendor of the Taj Mahal. And what is not seen in reality is visualized through literary interpretations rather than what is conventionally shown through camera lenses. One of the best examples of how the world of ceramics and wood converge can be found through the rudimentary Biblical descriptions of the creation of Solomon’s temple where cedar wood and marble (or plaster) were used abundantly.

On a much smaller but no less noble scale, finding the inspiration to do wonderful things with wood-cuts and ceramic tiles is not difficult for some. But for the rest, it could be challenging. Take heart that persistence and subsequently, invention will yield the desired results, whether building a new kitchen surface or working on a wall mural. If you are a beginner, also make an effort to source the right tools, such as the perfect kiln for sculpting effects and using a resourceful wood router ideally suited for beginners.

Create something new today

Whether you are a practiced artisan or beginner, there is no shortage of literature and guides on how to use tools practically and purposefully to overcome the challenge of creating something marvelous out of both ceramics and wood.

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The Ceramic World’s Future is Sealed

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on The Ceramic World’s Future is Sealed

The Ceramic World’s Future is Sealed

Think about it, since man first discovered fire and how to use it, ceramics, one way or another has been with humankind from the beginning. It has mainly been used for everyday functions such as building a fire in a clay oven and sealing clay walls decoratively, not just for warmth and comfort. Since its benefits were first discovered and appreciated, art works have always added a little extra pleasure to people’s lives. When people think of ceramic use today, they invariably cast their mind’s eye to the inherent decorative effects.

Ceramics as an environmentally sustainable agent

It is heartening to know that the world of ceramics is safe. When considering how humankind has taken advantage of and excelled in the industrial use of ceramics, one can only wonder with awe how ceramics will be applied in the future. The next Congress of the Parties (the twenty-first edition of this global gathering) is diarized for December later this year and will be held in Paris. Thinking about the bartering and horse trading that is likely to take place, one has to also think about how global warming and climate change, for better or worse, has impacted human lives.

Thinking positively, the phenomena associated with global weather patterns continues to influence people to do something productive and meaningful with their lives before it is all too late. The use of ceramics, it should come as no surprise, has made valuable contributions towards creating a world which is sustainable not just for humans but for all creation, flora and fauna.

Ceramics as an agent of preservation

Ceramics as an agent of preservationTo this end, apart from creating new job opportunities for hundreds of previously impoverished communities, the influence of ceramics can be seen and felt in solar panels and windmills. Also, its use in the creation of more cost-efficient and environmentally sound hybrid electric powered motor cars may be increased exponentially as demand grows. Not to take the eye off the barometer, the simple pleasure of creating artworks, such as sculpting pots, also adds to the pool of job opportunities for those who still struggle to make ends meet.

Still on the subject of environmental sustainability which provokes everyone to make meaningful savings across the board, whether at home or in the workplace (particularly where food is concerned), also think about how necessary the use of functional vacuum sealers has become. The caveat has always been preservation. Do not for a moment think that it is only food that is being preserved for much longer. Carbon-efficient products are also used to conserve in other areas too, much like the right set of tiles responding to UV rays and temperature, and consequently saving on energy use.

The aesthetics of ceramics

In order to truly appreciate the world of ceramics, why not visit a clay manufacturer, arts and crafts retailer or gallery and pore over a variety of creations? Take a moment to reflect on how meaningful and purposeful ceramics remains in everyday life.

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