Nowadays, most items are standardised: created in factories or production facilities where nearly every item is meant to be as similar as possible. Every item produced is almost identical, leaving no room for uniqueness or variation.
In such times, owning a unique ceramic item crafted by hand is even more special than it ever has been in the past. Humans have been making their ceramics for at least 26 000 years. They are created by forming a non-metal material into a shape – usually using clay. After being prepared, clay is then shaped into the desired form. This is often done by hand using a spinning wheel called a ‘potter’s wheel.’
Once shaped and dried, the pottery is ‘fired’. In the past, this was done on a bonfire or in a fire pit – but nowadays, it is most often done in a specialised oven called a ‘kiln’.
The temperature at which pottery is fired precisely what type of pottery is created.
Pottery is then decorated in many ways. Pottery that has been fired once can be painted and then fired again. This process can further change the colour of the paint.
Glazing pottery is also commonly done to give it a distinctive ‘shiny’ appearance and make it tougher and more water-resistant.
Hand-shaping the clay makes all ceramics unique in appearance – as a creator quite literally moulded them into existence by hand. This makes all ceramic pieces special, unique, and with their own story behind them. And owning a ceramic piece is the equivalent of owning a small, unique piece of someone else’s talent in your hands.
Pottery is a specific type of ceramic that functions as a container. For centuries, people have used ceramics to contain water; it is still a unique and attractive choice for doing so in the modern day.
This Water Pitcher, for example, not only has a unique look but also comes in 4 different colours to choose from:
Different techniques of ceramic creation yield different types of ceramic. The first type is earthenware. Earthenware is fired at relatively low temperatures and is usually not given a ceramic glaze. This does make it an unsuitable container for water or other liquids but does give it a unique ‘earthy’ appearance.
Terracotta is one of the more well-known types of earthenware. Because it absorbs water, it’s excellent for keeping things like salt or herbs dry – as with these Terracotta Salt Pigs:
Terracotta also has a more ‘natural’ look, making it perfect for decorating outdoor areas. Terracotta bird feeders are a great example of a ceramic decor item that makes the best use of the natural feel and look of earthenware – such as this Terracotta Sage Print Bird Feeder:
The second type of ceramic is Stoneware. Stoneware is harder and more durable. It is fired at a higher temperature than Terracotta and is usually glazed. Stoneware can be decorated and moulded with elaborate patterns and shapes – look at this unique pasta plate decorated with a Koi Fish and Willow Pattern:
Stoneware can also be painted, which tends to provide a beautiful splash of colour on an otherwise muted object. A great example is this Stoneware Heart & Roses Dessert Plate:
Porcelain, a third type of ceramic, is also fired at high temperatures – higher than earthenware and sometimes even multiple times. This makes porcelain not only a tougher material but also translucent. However, it’s important to remember that your porcelain can easily shatter if dropped or bumped or exposed to large temperature fluctuations. Historically, porcelain has been viewed as the most prestigious ceramic to own.
It is often beautifully decorated and painted, such as with this Nerikomi Mosaic Dessert Bowl:
The translucency and durability of porcelain give it a characteristic shine once glazed. This makes it really stand out – take a look at this Porcelain Gold Rimmed Nerikomi Tapas Platter:
A ceramic piece is genuinely one of the most interesting decor items you can own, as they are not only beautiful, but each item is handcrafted, unique, and memorable. For more local ceramic products, please visit Moksi’s decor page.