Pottery is organic beauty that you can create with your own hands and using your own vision. The limits on what you create are limited only by what you can dream. As you grow in your ability to create, you will make more and more delicate and unique items. Everyone must start somewhere, so let’s talk about the basics of hand wheel formed pottery. Raku firing is a somewhat controversial technique but very popular nonetheless.
Let’s begin with a simple clay bowl. Preparing clay for use requires time, effort and can become tiresome the first time you try it Purchasing commercially prepared clay for the first time will make the process quicker and easier. There will be plenty of time to learn and perfect the preparation of clay later on. Start out by gathering your essential materials and equipment. You will need: A wedge of clay, a pottery wheel, a sponge, wire cutter, a wheel bat and a bucket of water.
Put your wedge of clay on the wheel and center it as best you can pressing firmly down on the clay. Wet the clay with your sponge and begin turning the wheel slowly watching to make sure the clay is not off center. Press down gently in the center of the clay creating a small bowl in the middle. As this bowl forms, apply gentle pressure on the forming walls and press up gently.
The bowl should be beginning to take shape now. You will need to use your sponge to remove any excess water from the clay, but also make sure that the clay does not dry out to much either. Continue to mold and form the bowl by hand until you are satisfied with the shape. It can be short or tall, thin or thick you can form gentle curves into the shape or even continue to raise the walls until you have a vase. The forming of the clay is entirely up to you and you will feel the comfort level after a short time of forming. When done, use the wire cutter and gently slide it under the bowl and remove it from the wheel for drying.
The final two steps after drying is to either paint your creation or glaze it. This process is entirely open to how you want it to look. The glazing or painting beautifies the work as well as seals it. Once done you are ready to fire the pot to harden it. Of all the firing methods, Raku is possibly my most chosen method. If you are taking your pot to a professional with a kiln, inquire about their method of firing. Raku firing is when the pots are removed from the kiln while still at the height of temperature. This can cause the pot(s) to fracture or if done correctly, the exterior glazing cracks producing a finish known as a crackle finish pending on the glaze used, or a rustic matt finish that resembles rust my favourite!