Understanding the different stages of clay is essential as you begin to craft your first pots, plates, bowls, and other vessels. The stages of clay are what take your work of art from point A to point B. In this beginner’s guide to pottery, we take a walk through each step in the process. From […]
So, you’re looking into clay and want to know what it is and how to use it? Let me explain how exciting your new interest is!
What is Clay?
Rocks containing minerals (feldspar) get broken down by weathering and erosion over time and become clay. When wet, the clay will develop plasticity and will then become hard when drying.
Pure clays are light in color, while more natural clays are red or brown because of iron oxide traces. These colors show in the clay because of their impurities.
Fun Fact. The earliest known pottery was discovered more than 18,000 years ago, mostly in Japan and China! Historians believe that they used clay found on the riverbanks to line baskets to carry water.
The three main types of clay are earthenware, stoneware, and kaolin. We use two secondary clays to add to the primary clay to enhance its elasticity – ball clays and fire clays.
Earthenware is a highly common type of pottery today and one of the oldest known clays used by potters. They are very plastic, sticky, and come in a wide range of colors. These include: red, orange, white, grey. These colors get determined by how the clay is heated and the mineral impurities.
Stoneware is thick pottery and very durable. With its stone-like features, stoneware will make good mugs and jugs. When fired, the colors range from: light grey, medium grey, brown. Stoneware is non-porous and doesn’t absorb liquids well.
Kaolin clay is mostly kaolinite, also called white clay or china clay, and is often used for porcelain. Its color is usually light grey or white when moist. Although kaolin clay is difficult to work with, it can get mixed with other clays to make it more workable.
Kaolin gets mixed with a 20-30 percent water ratio; it will become plastic and placed in a mold, and put under pressure. Once the pressure gets removed, the shape will remain.
Kaolin clay has many uses outside of its use in producing china and porcelain. It can make: paper, paint, rubber.
Fun Fact. Kaolin clay is silky and soft in texture and is widely used for skin products like facial scrubs, body powder, and deodorizers!
Pottery as an Art
Learning the different types of clay and how they mold gives you insight into where to begin your pottery adventure. Start with earthenware or stoneware because they are easier to handle.
Get comfortable using your hands, and then move on to a pottery wheel. You will soon learn how therapeutic the process of making your creation is.
Pottery is never dull. There is always plenty to learn and explore when molding your creations. If you are new to pottery, you will discover many lessons, just as we do in life. Molding your art is like your journey through life – you will make many mistakes and learn from them, and a piece will never be perfect.
Let’s talk about different clay types and their pros and cons. Ceramic Clay This is the clay I use for most of my projects. In my opinion, it’s the best clay, but I’m going to go through the pros and cons and talk about why I prefer this type of clay. Pros The first pro […]
Clay projects are fun and easy to make for all ages. You can make sculptures, plates, cups, pendants, Christmas ornaments… anything you can imagine! Objects formed out of clay, though, traditionally get fired in a kiln to dry them out. The extreme amount of heat produced by a kiln makes your clay project sturdy and […]
Finding the best air dry clay is not as easy as picking a particular brand or product and calling it a day. Different air dry clay products serve different purposes and are better suited for specific projects and goals. Air dry clay is a product with many different uses, and it is perfect for those […]