The Pottery Process
Like most good things, pottery is a process that can be quite time consuming! Check out some of the steps of pottery below!
The Steps of Pottery
1. The Clay Stage
This is the beginning! You start with a ball of clay and you form it through the process of wheel throwing OR Hand building! At our studio right now, we have four wheels and two slab rollers for building. The clay is soft and malleable and can be adapted and shaped and carved at this point. We always cover our pieces at this point so they can dry really slow and evenly
2. The Leather Hard Stage
While drying, your piece will go through the leather hard stage. This is the stage of clay where we perfect and trim the pottery. It is still wet enough to carve into without creating dust, but dry enough that it holds its shape when being formed. Underglaze, which is something we often describe as pigmented clay in paint form (it's a little more complicated than that), can be applied at this time if desired!
3. The Greenware Stage
Your piece is dry at this stage and can be "wet sanded" (We never dry sand in the studio). Underglaze (the "pigmented clay paint") can also be applied at this stage if desired. This is your last chance to perfect your piece and get it into the shape you want it in. Smooth it down, carve into it, create. However you leave it is how it will stay! It might be dry in this stage, but it is very fragile still!
4. The Bisque Firing
Once you put it on the bisque shelf, it will be placed in the kiln for the first time and go through it's first chemical change. In our studio we do everything at cone 05 for bisque, which means the kiln will heat up to about 1888 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take about 24 hours from the time we hit start to the time we can open the kiln up and pull the pieces out. Your piece will be a lot mor sturdy and will have a little ring when you lightly hit it. It also might have a slightly different color to it than when you started and it generally will change colors once more in the final firing!
5. The Glazing Stage
Your piece is ready for glazing! Glaze is the colorful, often moving and shiny coating you see on pottery that you have at home, but it starts as a mixture of a bunch of chemicals in water! We typically keep about 6 dip glazes in the studio for our classes and members to use! This can be a fun and creative stage. Some people like to dip them quickly and call it done and others spend hours on this stage! Glaze is what makes your pottery food safe, but does not have to go on pieces you do not intend to use for food. It also often looks very different than what it will end up looking like in the end!
6. The Glaze Firing
Once you are done glazing your piece you will put it on our glaze shelf and it will go through the kiln firing once again. This time it will be fired to 2224 degreed Fahrenheit and it will take a little over 24 hours to heat up to temperature and cool all the way down. The clay will go through one more chemical and color change and the glaze will also go through a chemical change and become like glass!
7. The Final Product!
Opening a glaze kiln is by far one of the most exciting things we do in the studio because the color change the glaze goes through in this process is amazing! At this point, your piece is done and ready for pickup! We know a lot of people only handwash their new items to be safe, but personally, we microwave and dishwash all our pieces with no issues! Now you get to sit back and enjoy drinking coffee and eating off of your new pottery, handmade from start to finish!
This process normally takes two or more visits to the studio. You need to plan for two visits at the very least!
Everyone finds their own style and process that they like and it's always a bit different and that's okay! We have some rules and those have to be followed, but otherwise, pottery is a creative process!