Ceramics Unit 1

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Gr. 11 Ceramics Unit 1 Intro to Clay

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Ceramics Unit 1

  1. 1. Unit 1: Introduction to Clay
  2. 2. Lesson 1: The Basics of Clay ● Ceramics – anything made from clay ● Greenware – clay that hasn't been fired/heated ● Clay is formed naturally. The movement of ice, water, wind, and tree roots break down rock into the minerals that form clay. ● A key ingredient of clay comes from granite - feldspar.
  3. 3. Clay Structure ● Clay is made of microscopic platelets. When clay is moist, these platelets easily slide back and forth. Moisture also helps these platelets stick together. ● The ability to hold together while being shaped is called plasticity.
  4. 4. The Effect of Heat ● Fire or heat stops the platelets from moving. The clay shape returns to its rock-like state, becoming permanent. ● When clay is heated quickly, the water expands as it turns into steam. This rapid expansion is so powerful, that the clay will explode. Trapped air can also explode. ● Therefore, when working with clay, you must allow it to become completely dry (bone dry) before heating it.
  5. 5. Ancient Clay ● Clay has been used since ancient times. ● Nomads (wandering people) began to settle down when they learned to make storage containers out of clay. They also learned to make some foods easier to eat by cooking them in ceramic dishes. ● Ceramics weren't only functional (objects with a purpose). Excavations of ancient tombs revealed that early people also made ceramic figures & animals as companions for the dead.
  6. 6. Clay Preparation ● Early potters dug clay out of the ground. This clay had a lot of impurities, like rocks and plant matter. ● In order to get rid of these impurities, they would dry the clay, smash it up, and pick out the impurities by hand. ● Once they removed the impurities, they rehydrated or slaked the clay to return it to a workable state.
  7. 7. Clay Preparation ● Eventually, potters found an easier way to purify their clay. They would add water to the clay, turning it into slip (liquid clay). ● They would pour the slip from one container to another. ● This process, called decanting, causes the coarser materials to settle to the bottom, while the desired clay is poured off.
  8. 8. Clay Preparation ● Another traditional way of purifying clay is levigation. In this process, clay is prepared as a slip and allowed to flow down a gradual slope. ● At the end of the slope, there is a lip. This blocks larger particles, but allows the clay to pass through.
  9. 9. Lesson 2: Clay Properties ● Plasticity – clay is able to be formed into shapes; clay can be made stronger by adding sand, straw, grog (crushed fired ceramics) or paper pulp. ● Moisture – if clay is too moist, it becomes weak and cannot hold its shape. Clay dries when exposed to air. However, only when it is fired has all the moisture been forced out of the clay. ● Texture – clay can be rough or smooth, depending on what ingredients were added (grog, for example) ● Shrinkage – clay shrinks as it dries
  10. 10. Clay Properties ● Aging improves the plasticity of clay. ● Early potters passed down their supply of clay onto their children. ● If the clay had been stored for a long time, it had to be wedged (by kneading it until it has a uniform consistency).
  11. 11. Clay Properties: The Pros & Cons of Drying ● Clay shrinks as it dries. If it shrinks too quickly, it will crack. Therefore, we control the drying rate by wrapping the clay in plastic. ● As clay dries, it becomes more able to hold its form. When clay is leather-hard, pressure can be applied to the clay and it will not easily collapse.
  12. 12. Elements of Design ● Shape – a two-dimensional image, like the typing on this screen/page. It has height & width, but no depth. ● Form – is three-dimensional, like a chair. It was height, width, and depth. ● Ceramic objects can display both form and shape. For example, a potter can create a 3D vase, and add 2D patterns on its surface.
  13. 13. Principle of Design ● Unity – when parts of a design combine to create a sense of harmony and oneness. ● For example, a potter can achieve a unified design by repeating a colour or a shape. ● Movement – when a design creates a sense of moving towards something ● For example, you can carve flowing lines into the surface.
  14. 14. Lesson 3: Relief ● A relief is an image that has been carved or modelled onto a fixed background. ● Types of Relief: – High relief – projects from the surface; almost 3D – Low/Bas relief – is elevated, but remains part of the surface – Intaglio – the image is incised or carved into the surface
  15. 15. Examples of Relief A Persian mid-relief located in Iran. May also be called 2 layers of low relief. "Gates of Paradise" by Ghiberti Located in Florence, Italy. Combination of low and high relief
  16. 16. Examples of Relief Sunk relief – restricted to Ancient Egyptian art. A depiction of Pharaoh Akhenaten with his wife Nefertiti and daughters. High relief from the Classical Greek Elgin Marbles. Located in the British Museum
  17. 17. Lesson 4: Traditional Ceramics ● ANCIENT AFRICAN CERAMICS – Making of pottery in Africa began around 6,000B.C. – In ancient times, women were responsible for making pots, as part of food preparation. – All pots were made by hand, using pinching and coil- building and basic tools (like corn husks and rocks).
  18. 18. Ancient African Ceramics ● Pots were often polished, or burnished. ● Ancient potters also decorated their work with carved geometric designs. ● After drying, the pots were put in a pile and covered with wood, bark, or dried cow dung and baked in an open fire.
  19. 19. Ancient African Ceramics What do you notice about the shape of these vessels? How would you describe the surface designs?
  20. 20. Japanese Tea Ceramics ● The tea plant is native to southern China, where tea drinking originated nearly 5,000 years ago. ● Tea drinking was spread by Buddhist monks, who used it as part of spiritual ceremonies. ● It was adopted by the aristocracy in China and Japan, and soon became a social custom worldwide.
  21. 21. Japanese Tea Ceramics ● The Japanese aristocracy developed a very elaborate tea ceremony. ● Their goal was to achieve spiritual enlightenment and transformation, demonstrated by harmony, respect, purity, and tranquillity. ● This custom led to a special style for tea ceramics.
  22. 22. Japanese Tea Ceramics ● Physical – variety of textures ● Visual – looks should match physical traits (if it looks heavy, it should feel heavy) ● Outside form – should fit comfortably in the hand, and the foot should provide secure balance ● Rim – should suggest natural movement over stones, hills, or mountains ● Drinking point – there should be one place for the lip to touch opposite the decorated front of the bowl ● Interior form – a faint spiral relief should let the tea gently flow into your mouth ● Glaze application – should vary, but should be harmonious with the form These are some of the standards that Japanese tea masters used to measure the beauty of a tea bowl:
  23. 23. Examples of Japanese Tea Ceramics What do you notice about these tea bowls?
  24. 24. Examples of Japanese Tea Ceramics What do you notice about these tea bowls?
  25. 25. First Nations Ceramics Ceramics has been around in North and South America for at least 7500 years. Clay has been used to create cooking vessels, pipes, funerary objects (urns, sculptures), ceremonial items, masks, toys, and sculptures. Pinch pots and other small objects would be made by hand, without any tools. Coil-building was also a common technique (Unit 2). No pottery wheels before European contact.
  26. 26. First Nations Ceramics ● Paddle-and-anvil technique: the inside of the clay wall was supported by a mold, and the outside was paddled smooth. ● Rope, fabric, baskets, corncobs, and carved wood were rolled over wet clay to add decoration. ● Indigenous ceramics were seldom glazed. Instead they were burnished/ polished with a stone. Grease can also be rubbed onto the fired pot to add shine. ● Ceramics were usually open-air fired or pit-fired.
  27. 27. Examples of First Nations Ceramics IroquoianCarl Beam (born Carl Migwans) – Canadian Ojibwe
  28. 28. Pinch Pot Project You will create a series of 3 pinch pots. Since you are creating a series, your 3 pinch pots must have a unifying theme. In other words, they need to look like they go together. Minimum size for each pinch pot: 4 inches in diameter. Make them as thin as you can. Add surface decoration using the techniques mentioned in Lesson 5.
  29. 29. Lesson 5: Decorating Clay 1) Incising – carving designs into the surface 2) Impressing – using an object (like a stamp) to press a design into the clay 3) Combing – marks the surface with uniform lines; imagine dragging a comb across the clay 4) Burnishing – rubbing and polishing the clay with a smooth object, like a stone or spoon 5) Piercing – poking holes in the clay 6) Sprigging – attaching a decorative piece of clay onto the surface of a piece; ex. - adding small flowers to a teacup
  30. 30. Colouring Clay 1) Oxides - natural minerals found in the earth. Iron produces red; cobalt produces blue; copper produces green; rutile produces tan. These can be applied before or after firing, but must be fired again to become permanent. Oxides produce a satin surface.
  31. 31. Colouring Clay 2) Underglazes – a combination of oxides, clay, and a flux (ingredient that causes melting). These can be applied before or after firing, but must be fired to fuse to the clay. Underglazes create a matte surface.
  32. 32. Colouring Clay 3) Glazes – composed of silica ( forms glass when heated), flux (a melting agent), and alumina (stabilizes the glaze so it doesn't run off the object). Only glaze seals the clay and makes it food-safe. Glaze is best applied after clay has been fired, but must be fired again to fuse to the object. Glaze produces a glossy surface.
  33. 33. CAUTION ● Since oxides, underglazes, and glazes have melting properties, they will fuse to anything they are touching when hot. ● When applying oxides, underglazes, or glazes to your work, keep the bottom clean! ● Wipe the bottom and 1cm up the walls of your piece with a damp sponge before firing.
  34. 34. Lesson 6: Methods of Applying Colour 1) sponging – using a sponge to apply the media 2) brushing – using a brush to apply media 3) sgraffito – scratching designs into a layer of colour 4) mishima – placing colour into incised lines 5) masking – using stencils made of paper or masking tape to apply designs onto the clay
  35. 35. Reflection: Unit 1 1) Evaluate your Relief Project: a) Do you think it is a successful artwork? Explain. b) Were you able to create a sense of movement? Explain. c) What would you change if you could? 2) Evaluate your Pinch Pots: a) Do they look like a series? Why or why not? b) Were you able to control the clay successfully? Explain. c) What would you change if you could?

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