Updated: Aug 4
One of the earliest and most popular decorative arts since time has been pottery, which consists of clay objects that have been heated to a hardened state.
Everything from commonly useful items like bowls or plates from which food can be served to vessels for holding liquids are made using this elaborate art form.
What is the process of making pots?
It entails shaping vessels to give them a distinct structure before firing them at high temperatures (600–1600 °C) in a bonfire, pit or kiln to induce reactions that lead to permanent changes, including increasing the strength and rigidity of the object.
This becomes fundamental in ensuring that they remain hard and durable.
It takes a multitude of skills to make something out of Clay and a huge preparation procedure.
Clay can be moulded and carved by hand, or round shapes can be made on a pottery wheel.
After being air dried, items are fired, glazed, and fired once again to complete them.
Working With Clay
It is often said to respect the building blocks and understand them fully in order to unleash the magic they hold.
As one can probably guess, Clay forms one of the fundamental components of any successful pottery creation.
Coming to their type and variety, a vast range of clays are available to create with, from vivid terracotta to delicate creams with specks and jet black.
Some have a lot of texture and are quite rough and rustic, while others are smooth.
To keep the Clay malleable, these must be kept wrapped up to maintain moisture levels.
Types of Clay
The three fundamental kinds are: Earthenware is the oldest and most widely used clay.
It is simple to work with, has a low shrink factor, and is used to make bricks and planter pots. Its body varies in colour from buff to dark red and from grey to black.
Another form of clay, Stoneware, is a grey clay that is simple to work with and is very popular with beginners.
Porcelain is very smooth, can be moulded almost translucently, and glazes tend to look more vibrant.
The Tools and Equipment Required
Coming to the tools and equipment required for pottery, the most important one is of course, the pottery wheel.
It allows one to "throw" round objects, such as plates and big pots, from a round, spinning platform that is positioned inside a basin.
Using a foot pedal similar to the one on the sewing machine, one can change the spin speed while moulding the clay with both hands.
A pedal attached to the gear mechanism allows one to turn some older manual versions by pumping your foot on it, but electric versions are now the most common.
The next crucial stage which one may choose to employ whilst creating pottery are hand tools.
They can be used to make round, uniformly shaped objects like mugs, jugs, and pots.
Many of them resemble the equipment you might find in a dental office, from scrapers and sponges to pointed, needle-like tools.
The History Of Pottery
Pottery has a long and illustrious history.
As early as 1400 BCE, China produced fine white stoneware (Shang dynasty). Stoneware was invented in Korea during the Silla dynasty (57 BCE-935 CE), and in Japan during the 13th century (Kamakura period).
The first stoneware production in Europe occurred in 16th-century Germany. During the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), porcelain was invented in China.
The type most familiar to Westerners was not produced until the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 CE).
It was made of kaolin (white china clay) and petuntse (a feldspathic rock also known as china stone), which was ground to powder and mixed with the clay.
The Mind That Goes Into Making Pots
Pottery requires creativity, an appreciation of colour, shape, and form, as well as strong artistic abilities and correct tool knowledge.
There are various skills employed in pottery such as pinching where basic shapes can be formed by pinching a clay ball.
Another common technique is throwing where a complex set of skills need to be learned in order to "throw" a pot.
To get rid of air bubbles, one first has to wedge the clay using a special method.
It resembles kneading bread, but instead of incorporating air, one tries to remove it.
Now, when one first might hear it, they may think it is simple to centre the clay on the wheel. But creating an even, balanced piece is no small feat. If the centering is incorrect, the item won't sit straight.
In order to create different shapes with your hands and tools while the wheel spins, the object must sit securely.