Know your clay
The most common type of clay is called the earthenware. This clay has a lot of minerals and small bits of rock or sand in it. All this has been a result of the movement of water bodies far from its original source. This clay melts in low temperature and is usually either white or grey post-firing.
On the other hand, Stoneware is a more durable and harder clay that requires a temperature higher than that of the earthenware to fire and contains natural colors that range from grey to tan to dark brown. This clay was historically used to make jugs and crocks.
Last is the kaolin clay or the china clay which is the purest of them all as it is the closest to its source. Its purity enables its to use in manufacturing porcelain. This clay requires the highest temperature to fire and once it has been fired it turns hard and translucent as a result of which it doesn’t need a glaze to finish.
Bring on the Heat!
Owing to clay’s origin as mud, it is essential to apply extreme heat to the thoroughly dried piece of pottery as will dissolve back into mud if it comes in contact with water. Cooking dried pottery at the right temperature changes various chemical bonds of the piece causing the material to turn permanent and waterproof.
Traces in history
Almost every ancient civilization has shown evidence of the existence of pottery. Pottery is known to have served the purpose of both building materials, jugs and plates, and aesthetics like sculptures.
Egyptian embalming process –
Ancient Egyptians are quite famous for the beginning of so many of the world’s architectural and creative wonders, and it’s no surprise that pottery too can be traced back to the Egyptian civilization. Pottery is known to have been used for the embalming process. Egyptians used to use jars, ceramic, wood or stone, to help hold the organs of the dead post embalmment.
Japanese Tradition –
Traditional Japanese pottery takes a really long time to fire, almost up to a week or so. For thousands of years, clay art has been one of the most popular traditions of the Japanese society, and it has been fired in chambered wood kilns called anagama. The fire is kept burning for a period of 24 hours or a day or sometimes even as long as a week, and then it is left to cool for several days.