Ceramics For Beginners

We all use ceramics and marvel at their unique beauty but do the terms used appear confusing and make no sense? Here, we have a ceramics for beginners guide to shed some light on the terminology surrounding our favorite handcrafted homewares. As an added bonus we at, Local Bazaar, have plenty examples of ceramics from our brilliant partnering artisans.

The Basics of Ceramics

Let’s start with the basics. Ceramics is the name given to inorganic non-metal materials that are formed with the use of heat. Now if you are wondering where pottery comes into the equation, pottery simply is clay-based ceramics. The most notable properties of ceramics are heat resistance, strength and durability.

A collection of NAA Design's cups and tumblers, ideal for coffees, teas or anything else your heart desires. 

 

Slip Casting

Slip casting is a ceramic technique that has its origins back in China’s Tang Dynasty, a time of ornate porcelains and lavish glazes. Local artisans in Northern Thailand create beautiful homeware pieces using this generation old technique where liquid clay, or “slip” as it is known, is poured into a plaster mold and then removed once the clay has formed into the desired shape to air-dry.

Hand Forming

As the name implies, hand forming is using your own two hands to create form and surface. Take Dung Jai’s beautiful selection of hand formed plates as a prime example of this ceramic technique. Rather than a perfectly smooth finish, Yun celebrates the use of organic textures which are created through hand forming. Yun’s inspiration comes from everyday things around him like rice fields and combined with his love for hand forming give his homeware pieces that natural rustic feel that tell a very distinct and authentic story.

Dung Jai's stunning Artisan Blue Stoneware Plate with Golden Line Set is perfect for everyday and special occasions.

Hand Thrown

Hand thrown (also known as throwing) is a little different to what you may think and does not involve actual throwing. “Throwing” refers to the turning of the potter’s wheel and harks back to an old English word “thrawan” which means to twist and turn. With a great deal of skill, a ball of clay is put in the middle of the potter’s wheel which the artisan controls with a manual or electric foot pedal to make the turn-table-like disk spin and with the momentum mold the clay into beautiful works of art. Sounds easy right? But if you ever have the opportunity to give it a go you’ll appreciate just how much skill is required to keep the clay on the potter’s wheel let alone make anything. So, take Ji from Inclay Studio’s beautifully handmade homeware as an example of this technique as the majority of his pieces are hand thrown.

Glazing

Wondering what gives your beautiful serving set any other color than the earthy tones of the materials used? It’s likely a glaze, which is melted glass mixed with water and binders to stay on the ceramic item until it is fired in a kiln. Glazes can be applied using brushing, dipping, pouring, trailing or spraying techniques and enhance both the function and aesthetic appearance of the ceramic piece.

Jirawong Wongtrangon of Inclay Studio's Artisan Rasberry Splash Stoneware Bowl uses natural glazes to not only create a smooth finish but also to add a touch of color.

Firing

As we mentioned early on, ceramics are formed with the use of heat and for that a kiln is used. A kiln is no usual oven and can reach whopping temperatures of over 2000°F, yes you read that right! Part of the magic of creating handmade ceramics as Ji from Inclay Studio so eloquently puts it is, “my favorite part of the process is waiting for pieces to come out of the kiln, you don’t always know how they are going to come out.

Dung Jai's lovingly crafted Handmade White Stoneware Tea Cup with Green Line Set.

 

Stoneware

Stoneware is the term used for pottery that has been fired at very high temperatures until vitrified. This style of ceramics stems from the Shang Dynasty in China and unlike others does not require glazing. Glazes may be used however, they only have a decorative function as they are not integral to the structure of a stoneware ceramic.

Jirawong Wongtrangon of Inclay Studio's Handmade Matte White Rimmed Stoneware Dish, so multi-purpose and yet so stylish!

Coiling

Now, if you’ve ever rolled a worm or snake out of playdough, pastry dough or clay you’ve likely instinctively practiced the foundations of the coiling technique. Coiled pottery uses rolled “sausages” of clay to create a pot, vase or similar item. The finished product can be left so the coils are visible, smoothed out so no signs of the coiling remain or numerous variation options in between.

To peruse our designer ceramics created by artisans around the world please visit our online shop.

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