YouTube, Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram: scrolling through others’ feeds can give you some ideas for the upcoming holiday season.
New themes for parties, new styles of decoration... even unique, unusual, handmade gifts and ornaments for your Christmas tree.
You could take up origami or wood carving but, if you’re looking for a more elaborate craft to challenge to your artistic skills... if you want to try your hand at a millennia-old trade, ceramics might just be what the doctor ordered.
Especially if you’re wild about art history, you’ll know that ceramic arts date back nearly 45,000 years!
Of course, we’re presuming a lot with those assertions.
It could be that you don’t have a lot of time on your hands to wait for a wood kiln to heat up or that you’re not interested at all in learning how to make ceramic art; it’s even quite likely that you don’t have a ceramic studio at your disposal.
Maybe you want to find a fun-yet-educational pastime for your children.
Guess what? Ceramics is the answer there, too! Kids of all ages love playing with ceramic materials...
In this article, your Superprof looks at reasons to choose specific types of ceramics classes, who might be looking for ceramic workshops and where you might find them.
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Why Do You Want to Learn about Ceramics?
There is something so calming, so relaxing about working with clay.
Making ceramic figurines and ornaments really doesn’t require a lot of talent or skill – at least at the outset; pretty much anyone can sit at a potter’s wheel and make vases or an earthenware pot.
Becoming a ceramic artist doesn’t require a lot of strength and endurance as many outdoor pastimes do. It does not leave you exposed to the elements or extremes in temperatures... unless you are standing close to the kilns.
However, working with ceramics does require a bit of discipline and restraint; one can’t go around flinging bits of clay or flicking dirty water at fellow clay artists. At least, one shouldn’t; doing so is quite contrary to the nature of working with clay.
Art-making with ceramic material can be quite a social affair; what else are you going to do besides talk with others while the stoneware you just created is fired?
Considering the social and physical aspects of ceramic art creation, working with ceramics is ideal for:
- children who are at least 5 years old – they should at least be able to understand safety instructions
- after-school programmes for primary and secondary school students
- GCSE and A-Level candidates preparing for their university entrance audition to the school of art and design of their choice
- Anyone looking for a new hobby or a way to relax
- retirees and senior citizens
In short, learning how to work with ceramics is suitable for just about anyone!
Even if you’re more interested in mechanical or electronic applications that require ceramics – piezoelectric transducers and heat resistant tiles, just to name two, you could still learn a lot about earthen materials and how to use them by making pottery yourself.
And who knows? You might enjoy the creative process so much that you will continue to work with ceramic and glass long after you’ve landed your job in materials science and engineering!
How deeply you want to go into the art of ceramics is all up to you, of course. However, depending on what you want to learn, you may have to cast about a bit before finding the class that is right for you.
Workshop or Class?
In just about every learning adventure, there are different methods of imparting knowledge. Some are targeted to a specific aspect of a discipline while others delve deep into the subject matter, explaining every facet from its history to new concepts.
And, just as there are many ways to learn about a topic you’re interested in, there are many reasons to pursue different avenues of learning.
Let’s take, for instance, somebody who has been working with clay for a year; someone who can make tableware or maybe raku ornaments. Such a person may be ready to try something new or to broaden their knowledge base.
If you are that ceramic artist, you might benefit from a workshop that addresses the particular skill you hope to cultivate; maybe applying glazes or trying different clays.
Conversely, if you are a student aiming for a fine arts degree so you can design accent pieces for home décor, you are probably contemplating an art education... but you might be a bit worried about your audition.
Should that be the case, you would probably seek out a more all-encompassing course, maybe something along the lines of contemporary art ceramics classes.
Finally, if you are looking for a new, engaging hobby, one that will stimulate and fulfil your creative drive, you may benefit from both classes and workshops.
What if you are already quite familiar with making pottery but would like to learn about painting and drawing on white ceramic? Maybe you’re ready for studio pottery? Again, that depends on how deeply you plan on delving into the world of clay.
For many people, what started out as a fun way to fill a weekend has turned into a passion.
Discovering the exact amount of pressure to exert on a lump of clay to turn it into a beautiful, functional work of art, to feel one’s vision take form beneath their hands...
There is something so therapeutic about the materials and processes involved in producing art pottery that is so captivating, many artist program participants start out looking for a hobby and end up quite serious about ceramics.
Is that you? If so, you’ll probably want to know what equipment you will need to outfit your studio space...
How to Find the Ceramics Art and Design Programme You’re Looking for
In a glitzy, multi-level shopping centre, tucked down a side aisle away from mainstream traffic is a small, glass-fronted space.
Just behind the glass, bathed in glaring light from the LED fixtures above, four small pottery wheels wait, their orange basins a startling splash of colour in the blinding white environment.
Keen parents and bemused children follow the instructor’s directions, first throwing a lump of clay onto the wheel, then wetting their hands and working it until it vaguely resembles a bowl.
This three-hour course meant for small children is a fine introduction to clay art but by no means would it be satisfactory to anyone who hoped to learn mold making, slip casting, wedging or coiling – one of the oldest pottery-making techniques.
If what you’re looking for is just something new to do on a rainy weekend, you might check to see if your local shopping mall occasionally sponsors such events.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a wheel throwing class, adult classes to learn how to work with mixed media or glazed ceramics and raku, you will certainly need a ceramics class that delves deeper into the subject.
True, you could watch videos on YouTube – there are tutorials on everything from how to throw a pot to how to build a wood-fired kiln, a gas kiln or an electric kiln (no, you cannot use your cooking oven; it doesn’t get hot enough!).
If you’re going to spend hours watching instructional videos, you want that time to be effectively spent, don’t you?
That means that you would have to already have all of the clay tools, equipment and materials needed to start working right away... but you might not want to invest in all of that before knowing whether you even like working with clay.
That is why it would be best to sign up for lessons or a weekend class at your local ceramics studio: they have all of the equipment you need and most such classes include the cost of materials in their lesson fees.
If you’re really lucky, they’ll include a coffee and a spot of lunch, too!
Finding such classes or workshops is really not hard. In fact, you might already know of a ceramics studio in your neighbourhood, having driven or ridden past it on your way to work or school. Why not ask them if they host such classes?
Is your town having a fall festival this year? Maybe there is a crafts fair going on this very minute at your community centre... wouldn’t it be great if ceramic artists were promoting their studio... by offering lessons in contemporary ceramics?
You may also check with you local potter’s association. For instance, the Scottish Potters often hold classes in the art of pottery; the UK is full of such organisations and associations.
What if you really want to get serious about ceramics? Maybe enrol in your local school of art for your Bachelor of Fine Arts – or even, as a returning student after a few years in the workforce, you need to refresh your memory before working toward your Master's degree?
Whether you want to make your living as a ceramics artist or make unique Christmas ornaments for your friends and family this year, you can rest assured that there are many opportunities for you to learn how to work with clay.
You could even find a Superprof tutor to teach you tricks of the trade!
Now it’s time for a pop quiz: how much do you know about ceramics?
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