Handmade Pottery

Handmade Pottery

Handmade pottery is one of the oldest crafts known to man with the earliest artistic pottery dating back to 25,000 B.C. give or take a few centuries. The first Pottery crafted for functional purposes, handmade pottery vessels, were used to hold water. All of the ancient pottery dating back before about 3,000 to 4,000 B.C. would have been hand carved pottery, meaning that it was formed or molded all by hand in a stationary manner. We know this because the first Pottery Wheel was not invented until about this time. The invention of the first Pottery wheel significantly changed how pottery was created and the new process know as 'hand thrown' created new pottery forms in many round, symmetrical and interesting shapes. Vases, bowls and cups for drinking could now be created more easily and in a more uniformed manner. Archaeologist have unearthed enough antique pottery to be able to understand the technology and skill level possessed by ancient potters.

The act of hand crafting pottery continues to be practiced today by hundreds of thousands of potters across the globe. Handmade Pottery is made for both functional purposes and for artistic expression. There are hundreds of styles and techniques available to modern day potters but they all follow the same general steps of handcrafted and hand thrown pottery. And of course because some pottery, such as Polish Pottery or Polish Stoneware, is hand painted even uniformed pottery of similar shapes and sizes can have a unique appearance. Though some modern day potters may use an electric pottery wheel as opposed to a kick wheel or manual potter's wheel the basic steps of how to make pottery have not changed in hundreds of years.

Pottery is first thrown on the wheel (or hand shaped), then fired at extremely high temperatures exceeding 1,500 degrees. The first firing removes water and makes the piece retain its shape, the color of the pottery at this time is dependent on the clay and the kiln temperature. The second firing incorporates a glaze that is usually unique and often a closely guarded secret of the particular potter. Most pottery that is painted is done so between the 2 firings. The truly unique and beautiful colors of many handmade pottery pieces are dependent on many factors including the type of clay used which is often tied to a geographic area. Polish pottery and stoneware from the Bolshevik city of Poland for instance is famous for its white clay. Atlanta in the US is known for its vibrant red clay. The source Clay and the types of glazes and methods for applying and also other substances used in the firing process such as sawdust, sand, etc., help to determine the uniqueness of handcrafted pottery.

OK, so we've determined handmade pottery dates back for a long time and there are many interesting aspects of its history and sure the pieces created are great to collect but what about the satisfaction of the act of making pottery? Even novices can enjoy a class in handmade pottery to better appreciate the special work performed by the thousands of excellent potters and artisans creating pottery art around the world. Children especially will enjoy the opportunity to try to create and decorate an object made from a lump of sticky dirt. Adults and kids can also enjoy the activity of painting their own pottery, an activity where they don't make the piece from clay but rather paint an unglazed piece of pottery such as a plate, a coffee mug, etc., and then return to pick it up after it has been fired. Most people who have not seen this process would be amazed at the before and after appearance of the piece they left at the shop and the one that they found upon return.

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