Handmade pottery refers to ceramics including art objects such as figures, tiles, and tableware made from clay. The clay is baked at high temperatures in a kiln so as to produce the ceramics in a process known as firing.
For one to produce the best ceramics, they have to choose the best clay for handmade pottery.
In the past, before the industrial revolution, potters used to dig up and process their own clay. Nowadays, clay is being sold by suppliers on the market already processed and ready to use.
The clay used for pottery should not contain lime. Alkalis in clay can be tolerated but presence of limecannot as when the clay is fired, lime turns into calcium oxide. This will absorb water, expand inside the pot, and cause it to crack, flake or chip.
The 3 main types of pottery clay
The type of pottery one wishes to create will go a long way in determining the clay used. There are three main types of clay: earthenware, kaolin and stoneware. There are also clay mixtures such as porcelain clays, fire clays and ball clay.
Porcelain and kaolin clay are considered identical and are so far the best clay types for making pottery. They are also the most expensive in the market. They mostly consist of silicate and are not affected by high temperatures.
If you choose this clay for your pottery, it is white or pale in color unless it has been added iron oxide to give it a red hue. It is the right choice if one wants to make high-quality pottery or porcelain.
Ball clay is also close in resemblance and qualities to the kaolin and porcelain clay. This type of clay however, comes from a swampy and more acidic area hence it forms a tougher clay. It is therefore of higher quality and also produces tougher pots.
This type is best for potters who want to make more durable ceramics of high quality. It is however expensive due to this qualities.
For everyday wares such as pots, urns and other utensils such as pestles and mortals, then earthen clay is the best choice. Earthen clay is best for making lower quality pottery in case one does not have a kiln.
Earthen clay is fired at lower temperatures making it easier to use for smaller potters. It is however not water proof and the finished product can chip or scratch easily.
Fireclay is similar to earthen clay, but can be fired up in high temperatures. It is mostly used for making pots that need to withstand high temperatures. It is therefore suitable for laboratory equipment rather than every day ware.
Use the Internet to research information and ideas
Before deciding on the clay you want to use, you have to first consider; what type of pottery you want to make, the size of the kiln, and also if you can afford it.
Research to get the best suppliers to buy from, so as to get the best clay for your handmade pottery.