Ceramics (February 14, 2017)
I started going to pottery classes around August last year. Taking Christmas break in consideration, this means I’m now five months in; my home now has three ceramic pieces it didn’t had before. Finishing a single piece of thrown ceramics turned out to be a long process — not because anything you need to do takes particularly long time, but because almost every step involve waiting after you’ve finished with the active part of it.
First part of making a ceramic vessel we all know: it’s the throwing itself. It does look very similar to what Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore were doing in the Ghost movie.
I don’t find throwing too hard, except for when I want to make something that’s not the same size as my palms. Any piece that is the size of my palms will be shaped into an aesthetically pleasing object almost by itself, such is the magic of the center symmetry.
Once you’ve done with throwing, the internals of your object are finished — but not the externals. Finishing them involves turning a slightly dried up and hardened piece and cutting some excess material off it. It looks like this and it does generate lots of funky shavings.
After this stage, the shape of your piece is complete, but it cannot hold water — it will dissolve if exposed to it — and will cleave into pieces if dropped. So you need to fire it in the kiln for the first time. This is the bisque firing stage, after which your object for the first time becomes true ceramics: it now contains the silica crystals that give it its colour, texture, water holding qualities, its unique feel and hardness.
The last step is glazing, which I won’t even try describing here: it’s a whole craft in itself. If stars align properly, you’ll be rewarded with a finished piece: here’s the very first one I brought home, in green and brown multi-layer glaze, with a mint dragee from Fortnum & Mason in it.
I normally don’t keep pieces that turned into something I don’t like in the process of their creation. My friend told me that I’m making myself a disservice: this way, I’ll know the least about the final, glazing stage. But at least I’m sure that each object I finish is the best I can do at that moment. Let’s see how much better they will get with time.
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