From start to finish: Learn about ceramics

From start to finish: Learn about ceramics

We can't believe the summer is wrapping up and kids are headed back to school. That being said, it's never too late to keep learning. We realized it's been a while since we gave you a deeper look into the creative process of one of our artists. So let's start with the  most familiar - ceramics!

If you're new to the party, &Home owner and Chief Creative Officer, Liz is one of our ceramic artists featured in the store. While she makes it look easy, it's far from it. Let's take a look!

  1. It's all about the clay - and lots of it! We order clay by the pallet usually to the tune of 1000lbs per pallet. Each clay manufacturer has their own types of clay and it can vary by geographic region and the type of clay you're looking for (ie - Porcelain vs Stoneware).
  2. Before throwing, Liz usually cuts and prepares the clay by the weight she wants to throw with. Example, a mug is usually 1.5 lbs. So Liz will prep the clay in 1.5 lb increments to make the process a bit faster once she's at the wheel.
  3. Time to get making! Liz typically works at the wheel, but hand building and slab work are also common. Either way, step 3 is making the shape you want to work with.
  4. Drying time... And lots of it. During cold and humid months this can be a time consuming process. There's a few ways to speed this up - but it typically results in a lesser quality product and you run the risk of the piece not drying evenly. Clay needs to be "leather hard" before it can be worked again to add handles, carve, poke holes, etc.
  5. Once the piece is complete from a functional standpoint (handled, carved, holes poked, etc) into the kiln it goes for the first time! This is called a bisque firing. It removes moisture and hardens the clay so it can be glazed without crumbling. Bisque time/temp can vary by artist but ~1800 degrees is pretty typical.
  6. Glazing time! The glaze is what gives the ceramics their color. Glaze is essentially glass. Glaze can come pre-mixed or you can mix your own. Liz has developed and collaborated on several glaze recipes that you can see in the store. Each glaze consists of one or many raw ingredients such a cobalt, magnesium, iron, and many others.
  7. Glaze firing! This is a much hotter firing and depends on the clay and the glaze. Liz typically fires to about 2200 degrees in an electric kiln, but artists can fire much hotter or much cooler depending on the color and function and type of kiln being used.
  8. Finishing! Some very minor clean up work can take place post-firing, but this is usually just a little bit of sanding to make sure the piece is clean and free of any sharp edges that may have occurred during firing.

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into the ceramics process! We'll be sharing more updates from other artists and mediums over the next few weeks!

-Erik