Ceramics have many uses in our modern world. People often associate ceramics with pottery. Actually, there are many different types of ceramic and many of which serve serious industrial uses. Although the industrial uses are interesting, it is most appealing to talk about ceramic as it applies to pottery related uses. For teachers, ceramic pottery can be a great way to engage students in a creative endeavor. The results of a student’s work are tangible. They can take the vase, cup or ash tray home to share with their family. It becomes a keepsake for an entire lifetime.
Having a good pottery lesson plan is key to engaging students in artistic pottery creation ceramic pottery. There are plans for everything from hand forming vases to creating beautiful wall murals. With a little preparation, the plans can be adapted for a specific classroom environment. Most age groups can be accommodated. The ideal range of grade levels is first through fourth for hand manipulated clay pieces. The introduction of throw pottery (pottery made using a wheel) is often difficult because most schools do not have access to a pottery wheel.
Although access to a wheel may be difficult to obtain, many art studios offer their kiln to the public for a small fee (possibly for free to schools). Teachers can collect student’s completed work, deliver it to the kiln and pick it up a few days later once fired and cooled.
Many students will choose to paint their work with high fire glazes which require the kiln to be extremely hot. The temperature is measured in “cones” and these glazes require 9-10 cones to be successfully fired. This heat is intense and extremely dangerous. It always important that if this is firing is done in the presence of children, the children should be kept at a distance from the kiln during the entire firing process. The kiln is designed to retain heat with its thick walls. It will remain hazardous for hours after the firing is complete. It is usually best to do kiln firings overnight and when no students are present.
For more precise painting of pieces, overglazes can be used. It is an excellent way to prevent paints from bleeding into each other. Although some find the slight overlap of colors to be artistic, others prefer an exacting nature. Bleeding colors and inexact lines give a piece more realism and show that it has been handmade. A child’s work can be more endearing for its slight errors. Pieces used in a more formal setting, such as dinnerware, often call for more precision for an adult household. Choosing the correct glaze has a tremendous impact on the final product.