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Making Fine Pottery At Home

The Ancient Earthen Art

the ancient earthern art

More than thousands of years ago, this craft came into being and is still among the most loved forms of art and expression. Pottery is one of the most ancient and unique skills known to humanity. It is a blend of the four elements – earth, air, fire and water. Anyone who wants to venture into pottery could do better by knowing of the different clays that are used for the purpose. The two main types are earthenware and stoneware. Both these variants are available in colors such as white, cream, green and red, etc. Terracotta is the very famous red earthenware clay which is used by many potters. You may see speckles or granular color fragments in some pottery items, which is due to the use of different blends of clays.

DIY Pottery

diy pottery at home

Some potters prefer to make up their own clay by mixing ingredients such as iron oxide, molochite or stains for different purposes such as color, strength and malleability. If you go shopping for clay it will be handed over to you in a damp solid form. Keep it well wrapped to prevent it from drying. Before you decide to shape and mold it according to your imagination, make sure that the clay is properly prepared and the air is removed from it. This process of air bubble removal is called wedging and is somewhat similar to kneading dough. It should be done on an absorbent surface to avoid sticking. Always remember to perform this process and know that you too like any other potter will eventually find the most comfortable style of wedging the clay. But beginners beware that this process is repeated until all the air escapes and to ensure the same just slice the lump with a cutting wire.

The Most Basic Techniques of Pottery

Pinch Pots

pinch pots at home

You can play with and pinch the clay all you want with this technique. As the name clearly implies these creations are made by pinching the clay between your fingers. Keep a ball of clay cupped in the palm of your one hand and begin by squeezing it with the other. They clay is molded and pinched upwards and outwards with the thumb and fingers without any water. You can achieve a smooth finish afterward with a damp sponge.

Coil Pots

coil pots at home

Yes, this is a pretty interesting way to mold a ball of clay. You can roll it on a flat surface into the shape of a sausage. Just coil and arrange it around a clay base one layer over the other. The coil above is pressed on top of the one lying under it and you can build a pot of the desired size. Make sure that the coils are joined together well or else your bowl or cone will break apart before firing or drying is complete. Scrape off the rough coils for a smooth finish.

Slab Pots

slab pots at home

Kind of like rolling out pancakes but they are not for the tummy but only for the table or for your garden or kitchen or as you please. You can start by rolling slabs of clay on an absorbent paper with the help of a rolling pin supported by wooden battens. Then just leave them to dry slowly to leather hardness. Cut them in desired shape and size, scratch the edges and brush them with liquid clay slurry and join the pieces together. Now let them dry completely to bind into a strong pot.

Using a Wheel

using a wheel at home

We have seen potters usually with a wheel in movies, pictures, paintings and magazines, etc. How is that technique different from what we have learnt so far? This method is called throwing because the clay is literally thrown outwards by the wheel. As the wheel head rotates, the force of it throws out the clay and apparently it is a difficult technique to master. The simple reason is that it takes a lot of practice and patience on your part. Throwing requires you to mold the clay in a controlled fashion as it is moving at a rather fast speed. The major types of wheels used here are the electric and the foot-powered kick wheels. The ball of clay is condensed with hands firmly on the centre of the wheel head.

using a wheel at home artisna

Always make sure that your hands are sufficiently wet to prevent it from sticking. You begin with pressing the thumb into the dough after centering it. Slowly on the rotating wheel, use your hand to push the clay up and out to form a pot. Support the outer wall of the pot with your other hand and steadily mold the clay to the desired height. Sponge off the excess water and loose clay while the wheel turns slowly. Cut off the pot clean from the wheel head by moving a cutting wire back and forth under the pot. Splash some water on the wheel head to slide out the pot gently and put it aside to dry.  So, all the DIY artisans out there, this was a short and simple class on the essentials of pottery. Come again to Artisna for more enlightenment.

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