Pottery is molded clay that’s heated in a kiln to remove water and harden it. It is then glazed to add color, protection and aesthetic enhancement.
When decorating with pottery, grouping items artfully helps minimize the cluttered look and promotes a curated collection over time. Try arranging colored pottery with neutral vessels to add intrigue.
A clay body is a combination of different types of clays and minerals blended together for a specific purpose such as throwing, sculpting, or slip casting. There are three main characteristics of a clay body; plasticity, porosity and vitrification. A good clay body will have the proper ratio of raw materials including clays, fluxes and fillers. Potters can adjust the clay bodies formula to meet their desired results by experimenting with different raw materials. A good test is to place a small amount of the test clay in an old kiln shelf and fire it to see what happens.
Beginners should start off with a clay that has high plasticity. This type of clay is easy to work with and will hold its shape well. Examples of clays with high plasticity include Kentucky OM4 and Tennessee B3.
Another clay that is suitable for beginners is porcelain. This type of clay feels smooth and refined to the touch, but is not the easiest to work with for a couple reasons. Porcelain is not particularly plastic, and it can shrink up to 13% when it dries.
Lastly, there is stoneware clay. This clay is hard and exhibits a stone-like structure when fired. It is ideal for functional pottery such as dinnerware, jugs or crocks, and coffee mugs. Stoneware clays are also a good choice for potters who want to add color to their works by applying glaze.
Pottery glazes are what gives your pottery the final shiny or matte appearance that you desire. The glazing process is also used to create a seal on your pottery to protect it from moisture and other potential damage. When firing your pottery, it is important to be aware of the different types of glazes available and what temperatures they are designed for.
Most pottery glazes consist of a base made from silica (also known as industrial sand), which is the glass-forming ingredient. The glaze can then be altered by using colorants, opacifiers, and other modifiers.
Adding colorants to the glaze will determine its overall color. Commonly used colorants are iron oxide, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. Opacifiers are often added to the glaze and help to keep fine gas bubbles from escaping on the surface of the glaze during the firing process.
Fluxes are a necessary component of most pottery glazes. They serve to lower the melting point of silica. Different fluxes are used for different clay bodies and can include minerals like nepheline syenite or sodium carbonate.
Additives in glazes are materials that impart physical working properties but burn away during the firing process. These additives can include things like gums and resins, which improve the adherence of the glaze to the pottery surface and slow down the drying process. Other additives can be used to alter the rheology, surface leveling, and suspension of the glaze.
Kilns are insulated chambers that reach high temperatures using fuel or electricity. They are used to fire clay and ceramic pieces, and for drying and calcining materials. They can also be used to create glass and other types of materials.
The type of kiln you choose will have an impact on what kind of pottery you can make. Different clay bodies need to be fired at varying temperatures to mature. You should also find out what kind of temperature range your kiln can be heated to so you can select the right clay for your projects.
There are many different types of kilns, from small electric kilns that can only fire a few pots at once to large gas kilns that can be used for specialized firing techniques. You may want to consider getting a pre-loved kiln if you are just starting out, as they tend to cost less than brand new ones.
Another thing to bear in mind is that your kiln will have an inner and outer diameter, so you will need to know its dimensions before purchasing it. You should also leave some space between the kiln and any surrounding surfaces as the sides can get very hot during firing. Some kilns have a ‘bag wall’ which is a short wall on the inside of the kiln next to the burner port that prevents the flame from making direct contact with your pottery. Some kilns use natural gas, while others use propane. The difference is that natural gas produces soft flames which can be elongated and redirected around the kiln, while propane provides a fiercer flame that can’t be easily coaxed.
Pottery clay is a kind of ceramic clay that can be formed into a variety of shapes. It combines natural minerals, usually kaolin, feldspar, and quartz. It is very flexible, has a low shrinkage rate, and can be used to create a wide range of pottery pieces. This clay is available in many different types, and you can find it at most pottery supply stores.
To work with clay, you need an underglazes and pottery tools. A good starter set is a kit that includes basic tools for cutting, shaping, and smoothing the clay. This 14-piece pottery tool set from Blisstime includes wooden modeling tools that fit well in your hands, even when they are wet or covered with clay. It also comes with a canvas zippered case that keeps the tools in place when you are not using them.
Another important tool is a loop tool, which can be used to trim your pottery. This will remove any excess clay from the base of your pot, and it will make your pottery look more professional. You can also use a soft rubber rib tool to smooth any marks and lines that were made by the trimming tools. You can find these tools in most pottery supplies stores. You can also order them online, but they tend to be more expensive than purchasing them in a store.