What is pottery?
As we said it an ancient art form, but the ceramic material through which we make objects is also pottery. The material we use in pottery is clay. Clay differs from the mud and fine sand because of its unique characteristics, when wet it with the proper amount of water, it forms a cohesive mass. Also, it retains its shape when molded. This quality is known as clay’s plasticity. When heated to high temperatures, it partially melts which results in a tight, hard rock-like substance known as ceramic material.
There are different types of clay based on their unique characteristics and the temp. till which they are heated to mature.
- Earthenware clay
Earthenware clay was one of the earliest clay used by potters, and it is the most common type of clay found. It is highly plastic (easy to work with) and can be sticky as well. Earthenware clay contains iron and other mineral impurities. Terracotta is one of the most popular types of earthenware.
Uses:generally used to make pots.Also used to for making crockery these days.
- Stoneware clay
Stoneware clay is plastic and is often grey when moist.
Uses: majorly used for wheel-throwing very large pots, for hand-built, and for sculptured pieces.
- Ball clay
Ball clay is highly plastic and contains few mineral impurities. Ball clay does have a serious drawback. It cannot be used by itself due to its excessive shrinkage during the process of drying and firing.
Uses: They are extremely useful when added to other clays to increase their workability and plasticity.
Fireclay varies widely in its characteristics. It is relatively free from mineral impurities,it tends to have spots of iron though.
Uses: Fire clay is often used in stoneware clay bodies to increase their maturation temperature and to give the fired clay a bit extra roughness.
- Kaolin clay
Due to their mineral purity, kaolin clay is used for porcelain. Kaolin clay is not nearly as plastic as other clays and as a result, it is difficult to work with. It is often mixed with other clays to both increase their workability and lower the firing temperature. Many porcelain bodies are a mixture of kaolin and ball clays.
Uses: Generally used in crockery, sometimes in making sculptures,also used as face masks and for making vases as well.
Impressing and stamping
Even the earliest pottery was usually embellished in one way or another. One of the earliest methods of decoration was to make an impression in the raw clay. Finger marks were sometimes used, as well as impressions from rope or from straws.
It is a technique for decorating ceramics that involves cutting linear designs into the surface of an object.
Sgraffito ware is glazed vessels prepared first by incising decoration in the surface and then adding paint in the incisions prior to the application of glaze. There is a contrast between the brightly coloured decoration and the overall colour of the glazed vessel.
It is a finishing or decorative technique that involves selective removal of material with a sharp tool in a pattern.
Perforating the wall of a ceramic artifact while still plastic by pushing a sharpened cylindrical tool (like an awl) through it or drilling a hole through a thin stone or fired ceramic, is known to be called piercing.