This is a reprint of an earlier Blog for those who are new or may have missed it. I wrote the original article to encourage adults and children to explore pottery making from the ground up and at home with local materials. Most children already know how to play with mud and it's the adults who need to remember the joys of water, mud and fire and realize it is all free for the digging and burning and with your time. Clay is an entirely different social medium and can be found everywhere or at your local potter.
Earth, air, fire, water, and imagination are the ingredients. Simply shape a clay mix - let it dry, and paint it as is or “fire” it first to red heat in an outdoor fire or fireplace to transform raw clay back into rock. Adult supervision recommended for firing.Earth: Clay is finely ground earth. A mixture of clay and filler such as sand and or sawdust/straw etc. will dry and fire more easily than pure clay. To make a "pinch pot" start with a ball of clay you can comfortably hold in your hand. Push the thumb of the other hand gently into the centre of the ball and gently squeeze the clay between thumb on the inside and the fingers on the outside. Turn the pot slowly pinching the walls evenly. Coil pots are fun too and only require clay snakes to be coiled and joined together. If you do this inside a cup lined with paper it will take the shape of the cup. Slab pots are made by joining flat pieces of clay together. A few tips: Avoid leaving air pockets in the clay. Join the coils and slabs with wet clay glue An old toothbrush works well. "Rule of thumb": if a piece is thicker than your thumb, hollow it out more or thin it down. If clay is too dry just add a little more water (try a few drops at first).
Air: When finished let your pots dry completely. Consider relative humidity. Heat pots before “firing ”them. Explosions happen when steam tries to escape!
Fire: Method 1) Place the preheated dry pots open ends down on a bed of coals. Add dry fuel such as camel dung, sticks, grass, shavings, briquettes, pine cones, etc. Pots are fired once they are glowing red hot, (easier to see in the dark). Let the fire burn down or carefully remove the pot with barbecue tongs or two sticks or a shovel etc. Observe fire safety regulations and precautions at all times.
Method 2) Dig a small hole and line with fuel and carefully pile in the hot dry raw clay pots. Build up fuel around the pots in a tipi shape and ignite.
Water: You've already used a little water to mix and shape your clay and you've kept a good supply close by during firing for safety. You've probably used more to clean up after shaping your pots and you may want a drink in your new pots.
Imagination, can be found in every lump of clay you touch.
Compliments of Stephen at www.heaveninearthpottery.ca June 2016