Ceramics are one of the oldest materials still widely used today. From pottery to bulletproof vests, they’re a vital part of the modern world. They also provide a great hobby for those interested, but it requires an investment of time and money, so it helps to be prepared. Having the right ceramic supplies can result in amazing and practical projects.
There are three basic categories of pottery clay. There’s stoneware, porcelain, and earthenware. Once you’ve chosen the right material for your project, you’ll need to throw it. That doesn’t mean ball it up and chuck it at the wall, though. This actually comes from thrawan, an Old English word that means to turn or twist, and that’s what you’re going to do with it. Take a lump of clay and put it on a pottery wheel, essentially a large spinning table. You’ll want to place the clay in the center of the turntable, or the wheel head for the ceramic savvy, and start turning it, either with a stick, foot pedal, or motor. The technology of pottery wheels dates all the way back to ancient Mesopatamia, some time between 6,000 and 4,000 BCE. Once you’ve shaped your clay into what you want, it’s time to apply a good pottery glaze.
The last major step is called firing. This doesn’t mean telling your potter to pack its things up in a box and leave. That’s just silly. Firing is the process of heating up your clay to harden the material. The most common method for this is to use a pottery kiln, or a specialized oven made for ceramic supplies. However, it’s not as simple as putting your project in and flipping a switch. You have to make sure your regimen is right for the material you’re using, unless your goal is to make it explode in the kiln and undo all your hard work. No judgement here if that’s how you want to do it.
Pottery isn’t exactly the least expensive hobby out there, but it can be incredibly rewarding. From decorative pieces to keep around the house, to viable products you can sell, there has been a demand for these products for literally thousands of years. Don’t expect them to go out of style anytime soon. Just make sure you’re getting the right ceramic supplies and using the right method off the bat so your work doesn’t suffer later.