Collection: The John C. and Susan L. Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related Art
Source: Data From: The John C. and Susan L. Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related Art, The Ohio State University
What is Ceramics?
• Ceramics is the art of making objects out of Clay
– Objects or sculptures are built out of clay and then
“fired” in a kiln, a special ceramics oven. Then the
object can be glazed and fired again to add color or
gloss to the piece.
There are many different types of clay
Earthenware: This is a low-fire clay that is gray when wet and is
white once fired
–This is what we will be using
Seven Stages of Clay
• What do we notice about the clay at
– At this stage the clay is soft and flexible
because it is about 75%percent water
– We do not want to build with clay at this
stage because it is too soft. There is no
strength or structure to this clay
• After clay has been worked with and exposed
to the air the water begins to evaporate, now
it is only 50-30% water
– This is the perfect stage for building. The clay has
structure and strength but is still workable for
change. We love this stage and want our project
to stay in this stage until we are finished working
• Greenware clay is clay that has been exposed to
the air long enough for all the water to evaporate
from the project. It is made of 0% water. In other
words, it’s dry.
– Once you have completed your project you will leave
it unwrapped so it can enter the greenware stage.
– Clay at this stage will hold its shape but is very fragile.
– What you have made is not just clay anymore, it is
now a ceramic piece.
*This is the last stage in which we can recycle the clay
• Once clay has completely dried out and has
entered the Greenware stage
• Greenware projects will be put in the kiln and
is a ceramics oven.
• Firing is when the temperature inside the oven
is brought up to about 1900 degrees (almost 4x
hotter than a kitchen oven). This is a low fire
temperature; high fire is about 2400 degrees.
– This changes the clay to bisqued clay.
• Clay that has been through one firing in the
kiln is called bisqued clay.
– This is clay that is permanently hard. There is no
going back to workable clay after it has been
– The clay is now strong, but remember it’s still
ceramic- be careful!
• Glazing is when you paint a thin layer of
minerals and glass onto a bisqued ceramic
piece. This will give your piece color and
– Glazes look different when the come out of the jar then
they do in the end. Look up the glaze on the tile to know
what you’re using.
– You can glaze the inside and outside of projects but not the
bottom. If glazes are on the bottom they melt and glue
themselves to the kiln.
• After the glaze is painted on your ceramic
piece it will go back into the kiln for a second
– The kiln heats up to only about 1700 degrees this
– This changes the glazes to their final look.
• There are different techniques you can use
when building with clay.
• This is when you pinch and pull the sides of
clay to shape it as you want
• Coil building is rolling out clay into coils, and
then attaching them together
• Rolling out rope like pieces of clay with your
hands, size of coil depends on size of our
Then you stack them to build
• Can’t just stack, you need to slip and score
Scratch it up, add slip, stack on top each other
• You scratch it and then slip to make sure they all hold together the right
way because when clay dries it shrinks 11% and you will have gaps if you
don’t slip and score
• Then you need to smooth at least one side of the clay, inside or outside
• When you slide your finger over the coils and smooth it together you’re
making it stronger and getting rid of any gaps. If your project has gaps
then water will go through it. If you want it to hold water or be functional
like that then your project was not a success if you have gaps. Which
means it is not functional for what you intended it for.
• To slab build you must roll
out a piece of clay so that it
has even thickness
• Then you score and slip the
different slab pieces where
you want to attach them
• Coils should be rolled out
and smoothed into joined
corners for added support
• Throwing is the act of
pieces on a pottery
• A pottery wheel is a
flat spinning disk used
to make ceramic work
Clay scraps and unworkable dried out clay can
be brought back to working clay by recycling it
Clay is placed in buckets and left to
soak in water
Once soaked it can be wedged to
new wet working clay
Even if clay has entered the
GREENware stage, it can be