The making of items from clay either by hand-building, casting, moulding or throwing and firing at high temperatures.
|Historic area of significance||UK|
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK||Prehistoric|
The craft of pottery is one of the earliest human inventions. Since neolithic times until today, it’s been used for a variety of purposes from transport, cooking, decoration to storage. Pottery is generally divided into three main categories – earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
Items may be hand-built, cast, moulded or wheel thrown, fired or unfired, and glazed or unglazed.
Pottery is a process of creating shapes and vessels from clay (and sometimes other raw materials) and firing them at high temperatures (600-1600°C) for a durable form. Clay and other materials used for pottery have the elastic, mouldable property and are able to keep shape. The body is then left to dry after which the shaped vessels are matured by firing in a pit, kiln or a fire in which process the raw material becomes hard and strengthened. The article can be decorated before and after the firing. Once the fired form cools down it can be glazed and decorated (often additional firing stages are required at this point).
Based around different types of clay, materials, shaping and firing methods available but also around the functionality (utilitarian and decorative) and pattern – including decorative ware, tableware, vessels or sculptures.
There are wide range of different techniques, such as Raku firing, wood firing etc.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
- Decline in professional training (currently only three full time courses are offered nationally)
- Economic viability in competing with industrial-scale manufacture, especially of functional ware
- Scarcity of good quality clay
- High prices of materials and electricity for individual makers and small studio potters
- In a recent resurgence of the practice, people turn to pottery as a hobby but they are not formally trained and don’t rely on traditional methods
Craftspeople currently known
The Craft Potters Association website features a list of members. The current scene is covered in Ceramic Review and Crafts magazines
- Ceramic Review