The art of ceramics: from molding to painting

Ceramics, one of mankind’s oldest art forms, is far more than just a craft – it is a form of expression that requires patience, precision and creativity. In this blog post, we will look at the different aspects of making ceramics: from shaping the clay to firing, painting and glazing the finished pieces.

Clay – the basic material

It all starts with the clay. Choosing the right clay is crucial, as each type has different properties. Porcelain clay, for example, is known for its fineness and strength after firing, whereas earthenware is characterized by its plasticity and versatility.

Preparation of the sound

Before the clay can be molded, it must be prepared. This process, known as “preparation”, removes air bubbles and ensures a uniform consistency. The clay is kneaded and beaten until it is soft and malleable.

Shaping

Shaping can be done in various ways, including

Hand-building: A traditional method in which the clay is shaped into the desired form by hand. Techniques such as beading and slabbing fall under this.

Spinning: In this technique, the clay is placed on a potter’s wheel and turned into the desired shape by centering, opening and shaping.

Casting molds: Here, liquid clay is poured into a plaster mold and removed after drying.

The firing process

Once the pieces have been shaped, they need to dry. The drying process is crucial, as drying too quickly can lead to cracks. The work is then fired in a ceramic kiln. The firing temperatures can vary depending on the type of clay and the desired strength.

Glazing and painting

After the first firing, the so-called biscuit firing, the ceramic is often glazed. Glazes not only protect the surface and make it impermeable to water, but also provide a canvas for colors and designs.

Painting techniques

Underglaze technique: The design is applied directly to the unfired glaze and then overglazed.

Overglaze technique: In this method, the design is applied to the already fired and glazed ceramic and fired again.

Sgraffito: This technique involves applying a colored engobe to the clay and scratching away parts of the engobe to create contrasting designs.

Conclusion

Ceramic production is a fascinating combination of science and art. Each stage of the process offers room for creativity and experimentation. From the first lump of clay to the final brushstroke, creating ceramics is a journey that requires both technical skill and artistic expression.

Whether you are an experienced ceramic artist or just starting out in this wonderful hobby, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and be inspired by the endless possibilities the material offers.