A piece of clay is wedged (or kneaded) on a table so that it becomes free of air. It is then weighed and made into a ball. I use 1 pound (450 g) of clay to make a standard size mug.
The ball of clay is then thrown onto the wheel head. When the wheel is spinning pressure is put onto the clay to draw it up into a cone, and then it is pushed back down again. The clay has to be centred perfectly before a successful pot can be made.
When the pot has been thrown it is removed from the wheel and left to dry until it is leather hard. At this stage handles can be attached or any turning done.
When the pots are totally dry they are ready for the biscuit firing. The kiln is loaded and fired to 1000°C. Thirty-six hours later, when the temperature of the kiln is low, the pots can be removed and then glazed.
Glazes are made up of several ingredients that are added to silica. There are many ready made glazes and stains available. There are different ways of glazing such as pouring, dipping or spraying. I dip the pots into buckets of glaze for about 5 seconds. The clay draws the glaze onto the pot and it sticks to the surface. The pots then have to be handled with care as the glaze will flake off if knocked.
The kiln is then reloaded with the pots well spaced and not touching each other. During the firing the glaze will bubble and if the pots are touching each other they will stick together. The kiln is fired to 1240°C.
The pictures show an electric kiln, which has the advantage of electronic control, enabling consistently good results.
The pictures show an electric kiln, which has the advantage of electronic control, enabling consistently good results. Pottery Gallery.