Everyone is welcome in the workshop of crafts in Salos manor, either it’s your first time touching the clay or not. You can fulfill all your creative ideas or with the help of an educator, you can start from the very first steps. All participants are going to have an opportunity to learn different types of ceramic techniques, create, mold and later on – glaze your own work of art. To make ceramics you need to follow at least 2 steps: firstly, you have to mold something out of clay and after firing it, you have to glaze it. After the activity, all pieces of work are going to be dried, fired and given back to its owner. Every participant can use the final product the way they want to. Ceramics is one of the most engaging art activities. A lot of us would like to try it out at least once. Pretty often we get so many questions when people are teaching themselves to work with clay at home. At first sight it looks like it’s a pretty easy task. We are going to tell you some secrets about working with ceramics so in the future it would be easier for you to make something beautiful.
Ceramics – it’s not only one of the oldest crafts and art forms but also, a creative, calming and pleasant work with clay. This material that comes out of the ground is very elastic and gives you an opportunity to make something out of it. From everyday household things to the most beautiful artworks.
The clay that is being used for ceramics must be elastic so it would be easier to form all kinds of shapes. Clay is a sedimentary rock. The color of clay depends on the admixture. It can be red (more iron admixtures), yellow and white. The most important thing before making something is to mix it up so it would be elastic. The clay usually is bended, stretched, twisted to make some kind of form that stays the same after drying up. In the old times a large amount of clays would be kneaded with feet. Preparing clay mixture for the buildings, they would put straws to it. Today also the clay is being used for the constructions, in making bricks, in medicine and in cosmetics, even in making papier. And of course, in making pottery or so.
There are ceramic things intended for carrying food, for making food, for eating out of it, for plants and flowers, to hold candles or function as a toy. The first time ceramics were used in Lithuania was 7 thousand years ago. We can talk about the history of ceramics but we are going to give more time for the traditional Lithuanian ways to do ceramics, the process, functionality and so on. The examples of traditional ceramics are all over Lithuanian museums. The museum that is full of the examples is Vytautas Valiušis museum of ceramics in Leliūnai, in the region of Utena.
An interesting ceramic or a balck ceramic – it is the oldest way of firing the clay. A lot of people think that black ceramics are made out of black clay. Well actually, it is only fired differently. The firewood is filled up with logs that are full of resin and then buried under ground so the smoke wouldn’t go out. Because of the heat, little spores on the clay open up and fill up with smoke and after the caly cools down, they close down with the smoke left inside. For that reason it gets darker.
Sourdough ceramics is one of the most archaic techniques of ceramics. It is also a black ceramic, only the firing way is different. According to scientists, the sourdough technique was used from the 5th to 7th century in the Baltic states. That was even before glazing was discovered. The product is pulled out of the oven with tongs because it is so hot that it’s red. The heat in the oven is over 1000 degrees. After pulling out the artwork from the oven, it is put down in the sourdough. In order to stop it from getting darker, it has to be put in the water. The traditional way to get a bread sourdough is: you put the bread in the water and wait until it goes bad. Because this sourdough is made out of wheat flour, the whole place starts to smell like homemade bread. The sourdough can be made out of different ingredients: wheat and rye flour, cabbage or beets. In order to make a bigger contrast you have to mix wheat and rye flour. The product that is made out of the bread sourdough is smoother and the one that is made out of beets gets a red tint. A normal clay wouldn’t survive in this heat, it would crack. Chamotte clay is most suitable for this technique because it is fireproof. And it doesn’t need to be glazed because after this technique it’s ready to be used. After the water touches the hot product, the chemical reaction happens and so the water can’t leak out. Every pottery is different because of the pattern and spots. On the top of every product, after using this technique you can see this archaic decor formed. This ceramic technique is different from others because it is not glazed but covered with a sourdough. It seems like it covers the little holes and won’t let the water to leak and also it forms a pattern. The pottery made this way is more ecological. Sourdough ceramics are more historically valued and also are used in the household. Pottery with thicker walls holds the heat longer.
Practical part Clay – one of the ways of therapy that absorbs negative emotions. The process contains molding, kneading, sometimes destroying and creating once again. It is full of positive emotions.
Making a cup using a rolling technique. For this technique you need a rolling pin. To prepare the clay the surface has to be natural and water absorbing. The piece of material can be used, the important thing is that the clay wouldn’t stick on the surface. Also, it will give a nice texture. An often asked question is how thick the sheet of clay should be.
In order to make an even sheet of clay you need two even tablets. By rolling the clay, they will impact the thickness of it. The sheet of clay should be about 5-8 millimeters (in other words – like a smartphone). This is an optimal size so it wouldn’t be too thin.
Out of the sheet you have to cut out the rectangle and form a cylinder. Then you have to cut out an oval for the bottom and put it together. The whole process of making the cup is sticking different parts together to make a form. For gluing them together you have to use clay water (slurry). The particular places you have to make harsher so it would stick harder. So you can use something sharper and scratch that particular part. After that you have to put slurry on it and then put together parts of the cup (handle). The handle can be rolled and flat or more round and so on. The cup is going to dry from 1 to 3 days. The final product can be painted with an engobe.
The engobe is a thin layer of white or colorful clay or porcelain. Fired or dried pottery is covered with it. If the object is fully dried then you can dip it in the engobe or spill it on the pottery or just use a brush to paint it. After the engobe dries up ten you can carve something or scrape it like an easter egg.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to experiment and boldly take the path of getting to know ceramics, because this craft deserves to be your favorite activity. And the experience comes with a great desire to try again and again.
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