There are numerous opportunities for adding beautiful decorative pieces of useful pottery to the home, in the way of lamp bowls, candlesticks, dishes for flowen or fruit, and all kinds of decorative jardinieres and it seems well worth while to learn how to make these at home.
Now that so many interesting clays can be obtained, requiring only an addition of water, the making of pottery comes within the scope of the most unenlightened worker. A few simple potters' tools, a board, rolling-pin, and water are the only requisites. The material is moistened with water, and is kneaded on a board to give it plasticity. It is then rolled with a rolling-pin.
I will describe how the simple lamp vase is being made by the worker in our illustration. After a large piece of moistened clay for the bottom of the bowl has been kneaded until it is about an inch thick, small pieces are taken in the hand, and the sides gradually-worked up and added to, until the whole is built up. The left hand is held inside, and supports the sides while the clay is being added. Tools made on purpose for potters are used for shaving the pieces, but the bulk of the work is done with the hands. This piece of pottery is somewhat crude, but very decorative.
Building Up A Piece Of Clay, The Left Hand Supports The Sides While The Pottery Is Shaped.
The illustrations show pottery made in this primitive manner. When the clay has slightly stiffened it can then be decorated by being carved with a sharp tool, or a decorative edge can be cut out like the one in the group with the square candlestick.
In order to make a small bowl, take a lump of clay and work the knuckles into it until it assumes the form of a bird's nest. This will save a good deal of shaping when building up the sides. Do not attempt to add too large a piece at first, or it will break off, especially if the sides are high.
When the pottery is perfectly dry, it is sent to a kiln to fire. If the green or white clays are not the colours desired, the pottery an be coloured with ordinary tube oil-colours moistened with turpentine, and a wax finish given to them afterwards. This is really a very practical and easy method of getting what i known as a mat glaze. Pottery done in thi way is not unlike the beautiful Grueby ware.
Simple pottery-making of this kind doe: not require a room to itself, as there is so little dust in connection with it that it can be made anywhere.
If the craft-worker becomes fascinated with the making of this primitive pottery, and wishes to go into it in a larger way, she will need a potter's wheel. A light and easy one to use is copied from an old French model, and enables the potter to sit while at work. The cost of such a wheel with an iron top and shaft and the wooden fly-wheel is $18.00, but second-hand wheels can be bought for much less. The wheel is attached to the edge of a table or shelf, and is accompanied with a seat which slants forward. A foot-rest must be placed under the table for use when the wheel is not in motion.
Good potters' clay consists of silica or quartz and alumina, and has good plastic qualities. Most clays possess a considerable amount of potash and alkalies. It is well not to knead the clay too much, as it loses elasticity if overdone.
When starting to work on the potter's wheel, take a lump of clay and work it well into a ball. Then wet the top of the wheel, and dry it, so as not to leave the wheel too wet, or it will slide. It should be slightly dampened, however, or it will stick. Then take the lump of clay in both hands, and throw it firmly on the centre of the wheel. It must be exactly in the centre of the wheel, or it will not be true in contour. Now wet the hands, and rub them over the lump of clay, so that it is thoroughly moist. Then set the wheel in motion.
When starting the wheel, the left foot is left on the rest while the right foot works the outer edge of the wheel, and swings the fly-wheel from right to left. The point of the foot is used for this. Give it four or five turns. Then move the foot nearer the iron shaft, and give five or six more pushes to the fly-wheel, and then place both feet on the foot-rest. As the wheel turns move the fingers slowly upwards, holding the thumbs in the centre and pressing. The outline can be improved by holding a piece of rubber against the vase as the wheel swings round.
In order to make pottery properly,the elbows must be well braced against the side of the 3 body, so as to hold the hands perfectly steady, for they must not waver or swing with the vibration of the wheel. If the shape is not-even, the hands must be wet, and a few drops of water shaken on the clay. Then lay the thumbs together, and press firmly down on the clay as the wheel turns, pressing it again into mound shape. Then wet the hand again, and start the wheel. The clay is now pressed up again into cone shape. Great care must be taken to go slowly and to give an even pressure. When a good cone shape is made, press carefully upwards, with slow, even pressure, moving not more than a quarter of an inch after each revolution. The thumbs are held close together in the exact centre of the clay, and pressed firmly but lightly in, while the wheel revolves several times. This will indicate the centre.
The next process is to hollow out the piece. This is also done with the thumbs. Then wet the hand and start the wheel, and enclose the outer walls of the piece with the fingers, while the thumbs are pressed into the centre of the clay to within an inch from the bottom accomplish various results, and these can only be learned by experience. Rising slowly from the bottom, the right hand presses more than the left, thus hollowing the bottom and walls of the vase. Slowly the hands rise until the top is reached.