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Creating Ceramics - the Process
This article is adapted from pictures and a presentation that Maggie Johnsen gave in 2008, telling about her becoming intriqued with ceramics and describes the process she and her friend Linda discovered.

"While watching channel 3, I saw an invitation to join the ceramics club. I had always wanted to try ceramics, and now was looking for something to keep me busy during the winter. Furthermore, it sounded like a lot of fun. I walked into the ceramics rooms without any idea of what I was getting into! Fortunately for me, on that first day, in walked Linda who also wanted to learn what this was all about."


<<<< The basis of all ceramics are the molds that create the actual piece. The Ceramics Workshop has over 350 different molds representing many different subjects.

 

 

Molds are essentially "reverse" carvings of the figures, having the two sides in each section of the mold. >>>>

     

“We learned how to band the two sides of the mold together." 

"We learned how to pour it. Gilda is an excellent instructor at this. The slip is poured into all the openings and filled to the top. As the water from the slip is absorbed by the mold, the level of slip goes down and more is added."

     

"Banding Straps hold the mold tightly together."

 

"We learned how to drain the extra slip out of the mold so that the piece can harden. Fifteen to 25 minutes is usually sufficient to set a good piece.
We set a timer to remind us to empty the mold."

     

After we have poured out the excess slip, we let the piece harden in the mold for from one day to three days as needed."

"When the piece has been removed from the mold, we clean off any imperfections and seam lines."


     

"There are a variety of tools to help us with cleaning."

It is easiest to clean the drips off the mold while they are still wet. We use a spatula or a wooden stick to gently remove the drips.
A slightly damp sponge finishes it up."

     

"Ready for the kiln: Once the piece has been cleaned and sponged with vinegar water (which makes the piece better able to accept the glaze), it is ready to be fired."
     


"This first firing brings the piece from dry slip called green ware to bisque. Once the piece is bisque fired, we are ready to add color." 

The Ceramics Workshop keeps a large store of different colors, acrylics, and glazes.

     


These photographs trace the applications of glazes to the Bisqued figurines. Ultimately they will be fired again if you choose to glaze your work. Another option is to use acrylic paints, which do not have to be fired.

 

 

This is the Ceramics Workshop's Special Computerized Kiln often used for firing of Glazes or other special finishes. >>>>


In addition, the room used for firing has special exhaust equipment to clear the air of any particles or airborne chemicals released during the firing process.

     

 

 

Here is the original piece going from Bisque (center), to glazes (left), to fired glaze (right).   Or colored using acrylic paints.
     
"AND THEN CAME CLAY! With a friend, Judy, I signed up for a pottery class at Monroe Township Adult School. (Classes are available in spring and fall.)  Once I got my hands on some clay, I knew I had found my love."
     
"With a lump of clay, a rolling pin and some imagination - there is no telling what you can accomplish! When you work with clay you look at things a little differently. You say to yourself 'How can I use this to embellish the piece I'm working on?' I began to experiment with stamps, cookie cutters and lace."
     
     

"I even tried my hand at the Potter's Wheel. Furthermore - as you can see - if you can only roll a 'snake' you can wind it together to make a bowl! When you learn to 'play' with clay, there is no telling what you can do!"

     

 

We hope that reading the above and seeing what lovely articles that can be created from ceramics or clay - that the reader will come join us at the Ceramics Workshop.

Remember that we are open - and eagerly look forward to new comers - on Monday and Thursdays from 9 AM to noon. On Wednesday and Saturdays from 9 AM to noon, a Pottery option is offered.

 

     
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