Saundhi Mitti : Basics of studio pottery India
Hi folks! Like me, I’m sure many of you are intrigued by pottery and ceramics. How does one go from a shapeless mound of wet clay to a fully-finished bowl or plate with mind-blowing colors? What exactly is clay? What are the processes and techniques involved in pottery?
In this MasterClass, Saundhi Mitti will try and explain very simply the key elements of pottery, so that you know more about this wonderful craft and can make better choices for your home. Also, if you want to learn pottery as a hobby but don’t know where to start, you might find some answers here.
Pottery and clay basics:
Pottery is a broad term for anything made with clay. Ceramic is any material that permanently changes when fired at high temperatures. All clay is necessarily ceramic, hence the terms pottery and ceramics are often used interchangeably.
Clay used for pottery is typically deposited by rivers, and treated before use, which includes addition of desired elements such as iron oxide. It has 3 key properties, which makes it ideal for pottery:
a) Plasticity: It retains its shape when moulded
b) Ceramicity: It shrinks when heated and sets permanently
c) Cohesion: Clay molecules tend to stick to one another without leaving many pores
There are many types of clay available, and the chemical qualities of clay result in distinct types of pottery, for example:
1. Earthenware clays: are some of the earliest clays used by potters, and it is the most common type of clay found. These clays are highly plastic (easily worked) and can be sticky. Earthenware pottery is made from clay fired at low temperatures. Because it is fired at low heat, the pottery clay does not lose its porous nature and does not become translucent. The popular craft of terracotta is an example of this type, and it is mostly used unglazed for functional items such as water pitchers, flowerpots and urns.
2. Stoneware clays: are fired at high temperature, and so become nonporous and highly opaque. This is one of the favorite clays of studio potters, and lends itself easily to both functional and non-functional items.
3. Porcelain: is generally made from Kaolin clay for its mineral purity. However, it is not as plastic as other clays hence tougher to work with. It also tends to crack when drying. Porcelain is fired to very high temperatures and becomes completely non-porous and translucent. This clay is nearly white in color and looks beautiful once fired, hence the premium for porcelain.
Now that you know the basics of pottery, I’m sure a lot of questions are springing up in your mind. Write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be glad to answer them.Author : Ruchira Bhatia is a Delhi girl, passionately fond of reading (classics, humour and sci-fi) and travelling (especially wildlife safaris and road trips through hilly terrain). An MBA and Economics grad, she worked for 10 years with brands such as Nokia and Titan, then discovered pottery, and all her corporate ambitions went ka-boom — Saundhi Mitti was born.