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What is pottery made of?

There is literally no way, you have never seen pottery before. Pottery can be many things: from unique vases to dishes and bowls, to all sorts of decorative items, the limit on what can be created by a potter (that's the name for the artist who makes pottery) is their imagination.

While many have industrialised pottery at home that comes from mass production, real handmade pottery has always found its way to those among us who yearn for something a little more original and often more durable.

Potter holding up pottery mug
Although the clay production is not that complicated, it is important to get a good quality in which none of the prodzuction steps below were skipped.

What types of clay can pottery be made of?

Pottery is essentially made from clay. There exist three main types of clay that are used in the pottery making process: stoneware, kaolin, and earthenware. It is possible to spot the different clay types by categorising them by colour and consistency.

The earth, across the vastness of time, is the producer of this clay. However, clay in itself is useless to a potter. Before it can be molded into beautiful pieces of art, the clay has to go through various manufacturing processes.

6 steps before you can use the clay

  1. Retrieving clay from the upper layer of the earth through excavating topsoil and gravel (about 24 m deep max.). Fun fact, the deeper we go to retriev the clay, the better quality we will find.

  2. Letting the fresh clay partially air-dry in a confined location

  3. Breaking down the clay into smaller pieces inside a revolving tank

  4. Extracting moisture (typically from 22% to 1-2%) by heating it up in a furnace until it matches a powder-like consistency

  5. Eliminating any physical or chemical impurities

  6. Last sequence of testing

If the clay has been found to be of a good enough quality after going through several tests, it will then be shipped out in one of two forms: pulverised or rehydrated (muddy consistency).

Clay stored in plastic bags
That's usually how clay is packaged when potters receive it. (Picture by Unsplash)

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