Pottery is a small hobby that requires only a little time and money, but it can become an important part of our lives. To get started in pottery, you can try pottery training at home or go to a pottery class. If you do not have access to pottery classes and want to learn it at home, the following tips and tricks will help you. In this article, we will introduce all the pottery training tools and explain the important points and terms. Stay with us until the end of this article.
Materials, tools and equipment needed for pottery training
Clay is a granular soil that we can shape when it gets wet. Clay is a mixture of sand, minerals, gravel and other natural soil components. The proportions of these components may vary and the clay has different textures and colors depending on the particle size and composition. High concentrations of iron oxide are usually red or orange in color, while non-iron clays are gray or even white. For example, porcelain clay is white, the same clay that is used to make porcelain and ceramic dishes.
Types of clay
There are three types of clay:
- Stoneware clay;
- Chinese (porcelain).
Each of these types of clay has different applications and the firing temperature as well as the percentage of water absorption and dry shrinkage (Shrinkage) of each of them is different.
Astonor clay is the most practical and simple type of clay for pottery. If you are new and want to start your pottery training, it is best to use Astonor clay. This clay is available in a variety of colors, from white to dark brown. This clay is non-porous after baking, ie it retains liquids without glazing.
Artenor clay usually has a higher concentration and weight, but is weaker than acetone. It is also easy to work with this clay. Of course, if you want to retain liquids, you have to glaze it. This extra glazing step requires more time and materials, so this type of clay is not ideal for beginners.
Porcelain clay is difficult to form and requires a large amount of water, which must be added to the mixture properly and correctly at the time of forming. If you do not add enough water, your earthenware will dry out quickly, and if you add too much water, your earthenware will easily lose its shape and collapse. Learning to work with Chinese clay requires a lot of time and practice. Therefore, it is not a good option for those who want to try pottery at home for the first time.
Although porcelain is very beautiful, you have to wait to learn how to make it to gain enough experience and skill.
۲. Pottery wheel
Potters use different pottery techniques depending on the type of pottery they make. Of course, it is also possible to teach pottery without wheels, but in this case you can only use the mold or shape the clay with your hands, and the result will be dishes that do not have a precise shape and their appearance is uneven and uneven.
If you want to do pottery more than once, especially if you are interested in making round pottery such as vases, cups, plates and jars, it is better to get a potter’s wheel so that you can make as many pottery utensils as you want.
Pottery wheels have different prices in the market. Cheaper varieties are suitable for beginners. Of course, you should keep in mind that cheaper pottery wheels have a lower rotation speed and durability compared to more professional and expensive types, and the clay capacity that you can put on them is also less. Which potter’s wheel you choose depends on how professionally and seriously you want to pursue pottery.
3. Pottery Furnace
A pottery oven is a type of oven that generates the heat needed to bake things like pottery and bricks. The kiln dries the clay and the shaped mud is turned into an earthenware vessel. You can not use the kitchen oven because it does not produce enough heat to cook the dishes. You may be able to make your own stove at home, but building a stove is difficult, and reaching the temperature needed to bake certain types of pottery is even more difficult. If the oven gets too hot, your pan will melt, and if it does not heat up enough, the pot will not cook well.
The temperature range of the furnace depends on what type of clay you are working with (artenor, stoneware or porcelain). If you use an electric oven, you can easily adjust the temperature according to your needs.
Before deciding to buy a stove, you should consider the type of glaze used, the size and number of dishes, as well as the space in the house.
Raw pottery is ready to bake when it is completely dry, that is, when we touch it:
- Do not be cold;
- Their temperature has reached room temperature;
- The evaporation process in them is over.
You need an oven to cook these dishes, but the oven is expensive.
A cheaper way is to ask local potters to rent you part of their kiln. Of course, they make their own pottery and have their own work plans. You may have to wait until there is space for your utensils among the pottery they want to put in the oven.
Ask the potter to help you light the stove. There is nothing better than real experience to learn about lighting a stove. You can also help the potter to put the dishes in the oven and take them out and take care of the dishes during baking.
4. Pottery tools
Clay, pottery wheels, and stoves are enough to teach pottery at home, but there are many tools you can use to create more beautiful and professional utensils.
The pottery toolbox should include the following:
Used to measure the thickness, engraving, trimming and perforation of clay.
It is used to divide large pieces of clay into smaller pieces.
Reducing or gulking tool
When shaping clay by hand, it is used for trimming and engraving.
Cleaning or shaving tools
They are used for final cleaning of pottery.
These knives are very versatile and can be used to separate molds, trim, make holes, engrave and carve, and even cut flower pieces.
It is a piece of leather that is used to compress the flower when it is shaped on the wheel and to smooth the edges of the pottery.
Caliper or ectopic compass
Used to measure the diameter of containers.
They have a variety of uses, but are commonly used to glaze or impregnate pottery.
Used to shape surfaces and clean them. You can also use a sponge to pour water on the clay and clean your workplace.
Towels and aprons
Your clothes may become dirty and muddy during pottery. With towels and aprons, you can keep yourself and the space around you as clean as possible.
Other tools and equipment
Other items you need:
- Small bucket for storing water or slurry while working;
- Two or three large buckets to hold water for cleaning;
- A box for storing work tools and equipment.
Important tips and advice for teaching pottery
Characteristics of a suitable place for pottery training
It is best to keep the clay in a separate room or outside the house, as the clay dust is very fine and the vacuum cleaner does not pull or hold it. The best place to work with clay has the following characteristics:
- Have a faucet.
- Have an impermeable floor that can be easily cleaned with water, such as a concrete floor or linoleum flooring. Of course, no clay should enter the sewer!
- Have a sturdy table like a kitchen table.
- It has a surface that the clay does not stick to and we can work on it.
- Have sturdy shelves for drying pottery.
- Have a cabinet or other storage area for glaze that is out of the reach of pets and children.
Suitable level for pottery
The flower sticks to most surfaces or leaves large spots on them. Sometimes it is impossible to separate the earthenware from the surface on which it is made. The best way is to work on a strong fabric such as a woven fabric or medium to thick canvas. By doing this, we both protect our desk and we can easily separate the canvas from the earthenware dish so that the dish dries without cracking.
When we use very wet mud for ease of work, we can use a detachable gypsum mold on the top plate of the pottery wheel. When the flower is placed on the wheel, the plaster absorbs the excess water of the flower. You can use a shallow box like a clean pizza box to make a gypsum board. Mix the plaster with water and then pour it into the box. Once the plaster has hardened and formed, your gypsum board is ready.
Buy clay and glaze
Clay soils and enamels have many variable properties. The most important variable is at what temperature the clay becomes a biscuit. (Biscuit baking means when the pottery turns from raw clay to ceramic.) The glaze must be compatible with the baking temperature of the clay.
Many clay soils and glazes are graded based on wolf cones. Using a cone is a way to measure heat. Zeros are important in the number of zebras!
You can find a potter in your area who is willing to rent out part of his kiln. Notice the temperature at which he usually cooks his dishes and what atmospheric conditions (oxidation, neutralization or reduction) he uses in the oven. Prepare clay and glazes in which the temperature range of the biscuit is the best option for those weather conditions.
Fortunately, you can easily get ready-to-use clay and glazes in a variety of colors and sizes, at pottery or ceramic stores, art stores, or art retailers in your area. You can also use online stores to buy clay and glaze.
If you order large quantities of clay, glaze and other accessories, you will save on overall transportation costs, especially if the pottery and ceramics store is not close to where you live.
Use glaze and other decorative materials
There are several techniques for decorating and beautifying pottery. Of course, if you are new to pottery training at home, it is best to use glaze and paint, and in the next steps, learn how to use other decorative materials and more sophisticated techniques such as engraving or transferring printed patterns.
Glazing is one of the most common and simple techniques of decorating pottery. Glaze is a color-like liquid that gives pottery a smooth, glossy surface. The glaze has different colors and makes the pottery beautiful and waterproof. Among the paints, liquid latex or acrylic paints are the best options for decorating pottery at home.
Glazes and paints are cheap and you can easily get them online or from art supply stores.
Dry shrinkage of pottery
The clay shrinks after drying, and this change in size is greater in some types of clay. The dishes also shrink in the oven after baking, especially when heated to the baking temperature of their biscuits. In both cases, the hardening of the clay fibers causes dry shrinkage. In the first case (drying), the removal of water molecules is the cause of shrinking the dishes, and in the second case (baking the dishes in the oven), condensation due to melting is the cause of dry shrinkage that occurs at the molecular level.
If you want your pottery to have a certain size at the end of the work, you can use the ruler to find out what size it should be when the pot is wet.
How to start pottery at home
The first step to starting pottery at home is to get the right tools and equipment. You can easily get all the above items from online stores. Other essential materials, such as clay, are also available at most art stores.
If you are new and want to start with the basics, we recommend getting a clay pot, a small ceramic stove, a simple potter’s wheel and a few modeling tools. You can buy better tools in the future when you learn more advanced pottery techniques.
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