Work Space

Have  You Sourced Your Ceramic Equipment And Supplies.

To begin your new project, you must first organize your work space with enough shelves for commercial production or you can use another space for storing and drying.

Have a roll of soft plastic or large garbage bags; you will need them for covering unfinished greenware or to facilitate the slow drying Of green ware.

Cutting tools for clay including a needle tool.

Commercial Production

You will be creating commercial production, therefore time management and a brand is very important.

During my training courses, I always started with the use of leaves.

My favorite leaf is the sea grape leaf; it is a comfortable size and nice shape; but this is your brand; so choose a favorite leaf.

Look around your yard or neighborhood for an attractive and not too complicated leaf, the more simple the better for the beginning.

This is your first production exercise so do not choose large leaves, plus you have to always keep the size of your kiln shelves in mind.

A leaf around 6 to 7 inches in diameter for a round leaf or 5 inches wide by 5 to 6 inches long is a comfortable size for starters.

To influence your choice of leaves lets examine the kind of leaf products you can produce-trivets, candy or nut trays, soap dishes, holder for pins and clips etc. ; You might even have an original idea, don’t be afraid to try it.

Set the slab roller to roll clay to your preferred thickness; I normally suggest ¼ thickness for earthenware, a little thinner for stoneware .

I would not recommend porcelain for beginners.

Slab roller rule- you can roll your clay to thickness and length but not width. Always make sure your slab of clay is wide enough to accommodate the width of your leaf.

Rolling out of the clay-Watch this video on how to use the slab roller or  just Goggle -How to Use the slab roller and pick your choice

-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdwX1qEPUxw

Your slab roller should come with 2 lengths of canvas, one length will lay on the table to prevent the clay from sticking to the table, the second length to prevent the clay from sticking to the roller.

Roll the clay between the two sheets, learn this art first before attempting to roll clay, If it is not done correctly the canvas can get tangled up in the clay.

The clay will be in blocks about 5 to 6 inches by 12 inches long and 6 to 8 inches thick for rolling; cut the clay in 2 to 3 inch slabs, you will have to create a thin edge to start the rolling.

If possible try to arrange a visit to a ceramic workshop, community or art college that has a slab roller and observe or if you are close to a supplier ask for a demonstration.

Design Details

There are two ways to roll out your leaves, If you have access to a large supply of leaves; after you have rolled the clay to the required thickness, place the leaf neatly over the clay and roll a second time; this will reproduce the leaf pattern on the clay.

Sheer some of the thickness off the stem or else the stem will go too deep into the clay creating a weakness.

You should leave a stem of about an inch long and exaggerate the width to about half an inch at least or to your taste; but beware; if the stem is too thin you will have unnecessary losses.

If your supply of leaves are limited make a template of the leaf from hard card or I/8 to 1/4 inch plywood.; you can then use a needle tool to copy and cut the leaf pattern.

You can copy the pattern on the leaf on to the clay, be careful not to go too deep into the clay, this also create a weaknesses in the clay.

You should aim to start with a minimum of 6 to 12 leaves per day.

When the leaves are leather hard, clean the edges with a damp sponge, write your signature at the back of the leaf or a position of you choice

Leave the green ware leaves on the shelf until they are bone dry.

Glazing and firing to come next.

i Can teach Anybody Can Be A Ceramic Artist-

how to produce ceramics from day 1

Background

During the eighties I worked for the Canadian Training Awards Project (CTAP) as a ceramic consultant; traveling around the Eastern Caribbean researching clay deposits, sourcing ceramic supplies and training students in ceramic production.
The training was designed to start earning from day one; most of the students were women of all ages and from different backgrounds; but I always insisted on including a selection of school children in the classes.

The first stage of training on the wheel was designed towards earning also; but in this post I will use the Slab Roller only.

 

Commercial Production

SPACE-a small workshop; 150 to 300 square feet is adequate or a small basement.

Equipment

1 Slab roller; my preference is a Brent, the size depends on how much production you are contemplating.

1 Small Test Kiln-Electric for easy management, or natural gas if it is available; allows more creative and exciting finished pieces; but requires more ceramic knowledge and experience.

1 production Kiln; start with a 2 to 4 cubic feet.

Make sure your kiln comes with a set of kiln furniture

Orton Cones

Earthenware– cones 04 and 05 cones,

Stone ware -04 for bisque firing and cones 5 or 6 depending on your clay supply.

Clay- My preference for beginners is white cone 04; especially if you live in a third world country where the cost of electricity is high.

Kilns & Firing temperatures.

Electric-If you live in an area where the cost of electricity is not so high, and you wish to offer finished pieces at stoneware temperature; you can find low stoneware Clay at cone 5 or 6; but you will need 04 also for bisque firings.

Gas-If you have access to natural gas and is prepared to learn as much as possible about using a gas kiln before commencing production.

Local clay supply-If you can dig your own clay, that is fine, but learn how to eliminate the impurities; frankly unless it is a great source and fairly clean, and is willing to spend the time in preparation; it might be more convenient to purchase a commercial supply.

GLAZES

Start with a small collection of glazes and stains.

Stains-black, brown, green, blue and yellow-06 to 04

Glazes-05 Ready mixed -transparent; opaque white, blue, leaf green, mid brown, turquoise and yellow.

1 Set of brushes and small plastic bottles for pouring from your ceramic supplier.

2 to 4 small sponges

I plastic bin for scrap clay

This training is geared towards creating a brand of commercial production that can be marketed from day one if you follow instructions carefully.

BOOKS AND EQUIPMENT

There are several ceramic suppliers in Europe, Canada and the USA; of course England is known for its ceramics; in the early seventies I bought all my supplies from England, but over the years it became more cost effective to purchase from Canada or the USA.

Suppliers I was happy with are Tuckers Pottery Supplies out of Canada, and Amaco or Brent out of the USA.

You can Google Ceramic suppliers and see who are your nearest and most affordable suppliers.

There are several books on hand building and ceramics for beginners.

You should purchase at least one of each. If you are going the route of a gas kiln, look up how to fire a gas kiln and acquire a publication.

Remember also everything is on the Internet these days, just Google your question and search for appropriate answers.

In my next post I will be offering instructions for your first commercial production.

If you would like to start production and create a hobby and earn some extra cash, start sourcing your supplies, anyone can be a ceramic artist. I have never met anyone I couldn’t train.