Getting Fired up about Pottery

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Getting Fired up about Pottery

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Pottery is defined as “all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products.” It is almost as old as human beings. In fact, archeologists have uncovered examples of pottery going back 27,000 years in present day Czech Republic. Pottery has been present in nearly every civilization that has existed.

Pottery objects are made by first taking clay and molding it into the desired shape. Shaping is usually done by hand or with special pottery tools. Common pottery tools include paddles, anvils, knives and wires. Shaping is also often aided by a device called a pottery wheel. The clay is placed in the center of the pottery wheel which is rapidly spun round and round, either by pedals or by an electric motor, which allows the clay to be more easily shaped. This process is called “throwing.” Mastering throwing takes considerable skill and often takes years.

Once the desired shape has been achieved, the clay is next heated at very high temperatures. This process is called “firing.” Firing the clay causes it to harden, finally producing pottery. Often, firing is done in an oven called a pottery kiln. The advent of pottery kilns allowed for more advanced and sophisticated works of pottery to be produced because of the higher firing temperatures they could achieve. Decorating may be done before or after firing depending on the desired final appearance.

If you are interested in learning more about pottery, including how to make pottery, visit your local library or search online. The internet can also direct you to websites that specialize in pottery supplies and will be able to supply you with everything you will need to get started making pottery.

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