I have been asked by halfmom AKA Susan if I will do a posting on pottery. I don't have any photos of my own pottery or pottery making on the computer. All my pictures are of the old-fasioned 35mm film, so the pictures shown are all pinched from google.
We are very spoilt here as we can just slip down to Stoke-on-Trent, the famous Potteries town and buy clay already cleaned, seived and pugged, and in 25kg bags. True potters dig their own clay and then do all the processing themselves, but they have to be lucky enough to live near good clay seams. If I started digging the clay from around Stoke I would be arrested as it all belongs to the clay processors!
Before anything can be made the clay has to be worked well. This means wedging and kneading.
The process of kneading. The clay ends up with the classic 'ox head' look. Once the clay has been prepared then it is torn into suitable sizes and is then ready for throwing on the wheel. This is great fun. First the clay has to be centred. This is the famous 'Ghost' sequence with Demi Moore doing naughty things with clay, dressed only in her nighty. As if. Clay and water splash everywhere. I usually wear a big pinny, a towel over my lap and a man's shirt with the arms cut off.
The actual throwing is quite easy once you get used to it. Some people say that when they tried to throw, their clay shot across the room and stuck to the wall. Don't believe them. They are just saying it for effect. I have never, ever seen that happen in all the time I have taught and potted myself. What happens to beginner throwers is that the clay slides off the wheel and into the tray, where you just scoop it up and put in back in the bin for recycling.
Pots being thrown.
After the pot has been cut of the wheel it is allowed to dry out until 'soft leather hard'. Then the pot is put back on the wheel upside down, and secured by soft blobs of clay. Turning then takes place. This is the trimming of the bottom of the pot to make a foot ring. It is like wood turning and also uses similar tools. The wheel is used instead of a lathe.
Pots being turned.
When turning is complete, the pot is allowed to dry out slowly, and when thoroughly dry it is time for the first, or bisque firing. This is quite a low firing, only about 980 degrees C. This leaves the pot still porous and ready for glazing. Glazing is a whole new post, so I won't go into it here, except to say after glazing earthenware pots are fired to 1100 degrees C and stoneware pots are fired to about 1200 degrees C. Porcelain if used goes up to 1300 degrees C.
Opening the kiln after a glaze firing is always very exciting. It can be wonderful or it can be very disappointing. It depends what has been happening in the kiln. Chemical reactions occur at high temperatures and often the glaze has a mind of it's own. Sometimes I have had amazing results. Nothing to do with skill but simply a reaction of the glaze chemicals in the kiln. You should be able to predict results, but actually it is often arbitary.
That's enough for now. If anyone wants further posts on pottery then I would be happy to oblige. But now, I have to rescue Badger who has managed to get herself shut outside and is now stuck halfway through the catflap.
Poor little Badger!