What is slip?
Slip is made by adding water to clay and mixing it into a paste. This is used as ‘potters glue’. Slip is used to join clay to clay (like when attaching a handle) and to decorate.
Do I have to fire my pot?
If you’d like your masterpieces to be food safe and waterproof you’ll need to fire ya pots.
If you don’t fire your pot it won’t be functional.
If you add water to a pot that hasn’t been fired it will become wet smooshy clay again.
My piece is sculptural and will not need to be food safe or waterproof ?
In this case you will not need to fire your masterpiece, you can let them air dry over 2 weeks then display em on your mums mantelpiece.
Can i use Acrylic or watercolour paints on my pieces?
If you’d like your pieces to be fired (resulting in them being food safe and waterproof) then NO Acrylic/watercolour paints will burn away and disappear when fired in our kiln.
if your pieces are going to be non-functional/sculptural and you won’t need to fire them, then you can definitely add a splash of colour by using Acrylic or watercolour.
Can I use my oven instead of a kiln?
Unless you have an oven which reaches 1280°C (you don’t hehe) then you’ll need to get your pieces to see a Pottery kiln.
I’ve made a pot !! can it dry out too much before its first firing ?
NO! Once your piece is made you can leave it for years before firing it. Once its dry pop it aside and save a visit to our kilns for a rainy day.
How long do I leave my pot before firing it/glazing it/firing it again?
After you’ve made your pot from clay it will be ready for its bisque firing once it gets to the bone dry stage (about 1 week after the making of it). Your pot needs to be bone dry to go into the kiln for the first firing to prevent it from exploding! (EXPLODING!!! 0: don’t worry this doesn’t happen very often).
After your pot has been bisque fired you can glaze it straight away but it can also stay in this stage for as long as you’d like until you’re ready to apply glaze and glaze fire it. Once you have applied glaze to your pot it is immediately ready for the glaze firing, but leaving it on a shelf for a few weeks until you’re ready to bring it in is fine too.
How can I find out if my clay and glaze are designed for the same temperature?
The package your clay and glaze come in will have this information on it. It will list a ‘firing range’ and will read something like this: ‘Stoneware firing range 1280°C to 1300°C’. If you’re ever unsure where to find this then please ask us! Always happy to help <3
How long does a firing take?
The actual firing takes around 3 days including packing the kiln, slowly heating it up, slowly cooling it down and unpacking the pots. We aim for a 1-2 week turn around from when you drop your pot off to when you’re able to pick it up but it varies depending on how busy we are that week.
TYPES OF CLAY
There are heaps of different clay bodies (types of clay) that you can buy! Make sure you check what temperature your clay will need to fire to as different clays have lower/higher temperatures! firing clay to the wrong temperature will leave your pieces either under-fired (not food safe and waterproof) or in a puddle (yes pieces can melt if they’re fired to the wrong temperature). At Ceramiques we use STONEWARE clay and glaze and only offer a bisque firing and a stoneware glaze firing.
Earthenware (fired to around 1000 - 1100°C)
Midfire (fired to around 1200 - 1260°C)
Stoneware (fired to around 1280°C)
Porcelain (fired to around 1280 - 1300°C)
STAGES OF CLAY
1. WET. Fresh from the bag and the perfect consistency to make your pots from. Soft, smooshy, wet and delicious.
2. LEATHER HARD. Depending on the weather it can take as little as a few hours and up to a few days for your piece to become ‘leather hard’. If you’d like your pot to dry more slowly (recommended to reduce cracking and warping) you can cover it in a plastic bag and it will become leather hard in around 3-7 days. As the clay starts to dry, changes to the shape of your pot are no longer possible. However, this is the perfect time to carve into the clay to create surface texture. The clay has the consistency of a hard cheese or leather and is cool to the touch.
3. BONE DRY. As the clay continues to dry it will lighten in colour and it will no longer feel cool to the touch. If your piece is not covered in plastic while drying this can take anywhere between 3 to 10 days depending on the weather and the thickness of your pot. When your pot is bone dry its ready to be fired! YAY! Your pot will be very fragile at this stage and we recommend transporting it in a box wrapped in towels or bubble wrap. If your piece breaks or cracks at this stage it cannot be repaired stuck together.
4. BISQUE. The bisque firing is the first of two firings that your pot will go through. Before it’s been fired it’s in the GREENWARE stage and after it’s been fired we call it BISQUEWARE (wanky pottery lingo but hey) The bisque firing transforms clay into ceramic, but leaves it porous enough to be able to absorb glaze. We run our Bisque firing to 1000°C. Your pot will be easy to pick up after the bisque firing but it’s still fragile - handle gently.
5. GLAZEWARE. After you have applied glaze to your pot (make sure the glaze firing temperature matches that of your clay body!) it’s ready for its final firing - the glaze firing. We run our glaze firing to 1280°C aka STONEWARE temperature. After this firing your pot will be waterproof, food safe, dishwasher safe, microwave safe and oven safe. It will be strong and ready for daily use. How bloody exciting !