Creating Large Ceramic Pieces
Working with clay is a unique way for artists to express themselves. Making ceramics shows a heightened ability to form clay that will be fired at high temperatures. Clay used for ceramics has a much finer grain than clay used for pottery. This means any mistake on the part of the artist will be very apparent. It takes time and effort to learn how to make beautiful ceramic pieces out of a lump of clay.
Artists who create ceramic pieces must know their clay. The clay used in ceramics creation has a higher percentage of kaolin in it. It is also a much finer grain of clay. It is not really easier to mold, but it does have a smoother finish once it has been shaped. It is also fired at a much higher temperature when put in the kiln. The artist must be able to tell the kiln operator the percentage of kaolin and any other ingredients used. This is important information for the kiln operator. The operator will then be able to fire the material at the correct temperature.
Creating large ceramic pieces on a wheel adds a degree of difficulty. If the piece is to be tall, the artist may not be able to reach the bottom of the inside of the piece. This presents a problem when forming the clay. The artist must use a wooden paddle for shaping. Because clay is normally formed by hand, artists are used to being able to feel the clay while they work with it. Using a paddle means developing a new set of skills. The artist must learn the feel of the clay on the paddle instead of their hand.
Forming large clay objects is not always easy, but it can be very rewarding. There are not too many artists that work with large clay pieces. Those that do have a higher level of expertise and a superior set of advanced skills. While not always easy to learn, clay is a forgiving substance. An artist can always flatten their clay out and begin again if necessary.