O LORD, Thou art our Father,
We are the clay, and Thou our Potter;
and we are all the work of Thy Hands.
PTTERY: Raw earth
Actual transformation of clay body when dried or cooked
History is pottery! Pottery is history!
Think about it! The oldest archeological find is pottery.
How far does it date back? How far does time date back?
What was is made from? Raw earth, clay
Imagine, Ancient man sitting by a creek bed, he
reaches down to play in the water and mud, he cups some of the mud in his hands
and begins to play with it. Soon he discovers he can make shapes with it, he can alter the mud body by adding more or less water to it. Already playing with fire, he decides to see how his mud shape will react to the fire, he places his piece of pottery in a pit where he has his wood fire built , He realizes that heat will actually cook the mud; making it more durable and solid. Man soon realizes that he can create functional ware to drink and eat with, he can also create a tablet for writing and tools for working.
Curiosity and human nature got the better of man , he began to experiment with fire and clay. He moved his firing from the pit to caves and began using hill sides and tunnels to fire his ware, the larger and hotter the firing chamber, the more ware he could produce. Everyone wanted to use functional ware for their food and other ideas;
so the need for a local potter arose.
The news of this miracle with clay and fire spread as did man, the affect was many cultures and many peoples ideas developing the art. It wasn't very long until man decided he could place the clay on a round flat surface that he could move with his foot creating the first wheel; this spiral motion allowed man to maneuver the clay in many directions and into many beautiful shapes. The number of shapes was limited only to the individual skill of the potter. Pottery was evolving into a necessary and functional part of man's life.
Man made beautiful shapes and now he wanted to color his shapes. What to use? He surmised, if he had used raw earth to make these shapes with, then other raw materials, melted or tempered might react the same way. Indeed he was right again, he began melting rocks and ores developing his pallet of colors very early in ancient history. Man discovered that iron changed colors when introduced to different temperatures and using different clay bodies, he further realized many minerals and ores reacted the same way. These minerals and ores could be used in combinations and when introduced to the clay body and varying heat ranges would actually melt and vitrify itself to the clay body.
It didn't take man long to evolve scientifically and culturally.
Individual geographic locations have also played a major role in the overall evolution of pottery. Different regions worldwide, produce different clay bodies, these clay bodies vary in temperature ranges and fire at varying melting points. Porcelain is the purest form of clay and is common to Japan and China. Indigenous minerals and ores directly affected the artist's pallet of glazes and slip colors as well. The result: Worldwide treasures of incredible beauty.
The love and passion for this art traveled and grew worldwide. It is still actively practiced today. There are many different types of clay artists, using many firing techniques. Pottery has evolved with science and the use of electric wheels, electric and gas kilns,
not to mention today's potter/chemist/inventor.
Potter's have always been in love with firing the kiln and creating bigger and better more efficient kilns. While wood firing is still the most difficult and sometimes erratic, gas and electric kilns allow for more stable firing environments. Kiln types and designs are a choice of the individual potter. Individual artist's clay types vary, as well as their, building styles, decorating glazing techniques and firing methods.
Pottery is a very ancient and respected art form.
Today clay artist's are still creating the history of pottery.
WE want to thank clay artist's around the world for keeping the art alive.
A potter's mark
To further study this ancient and timeless art we are breaking it down into 5 major groups with links for study. Please feel free to E Mail us with any links you would like to see added or you think will add to the study of pottery.
Archeological Biblical Society
"An ongoing site with articles and links on Pottery as it applies to the Middle Ages and the SCA"
Portobello Pottery Kilns
Glazing and Decorating:
Firing and Kilns
A wonderful article by Director Dr P.J. Reynolds
5000-Year Old Pottery Kilns Found in NW China