You’ve probably read a lot about how to do pottery, but did you know that there are things about pottery that you may not have ever heard of? There is a lot of information out there, and here, we’ll talk about the 20 surprising pottery facts that you should know about to better your pottery.
Pottery and Civilization
Pottery has been around in almost every single civilization out there, with the oldest showing up about 24,000 years ago in Czechoslovakia. However, there are a few different reasons for this coming about, and it was made even better in the Mesopotamia area. The reason for pottery is because of the following:
- Practical Purposes
- Decorative purposes
- Creating efficient and symmetrical shapes
The wheel alone was enough to help bring pottery to a new level, and making it better than ever.
Properties of Ceramics
There are some properties of ceramics, and they are important since they involve processing.
The properties of this include the following:
- The porosity
- Heat resistance
- All chemical properties associated with this
In the last stage of this, you’ll be able to handle all of these different factors. What this means is, you can take identical raw materials that are shaped in an identical way, but due to the varying firing that you can do, you can actually give them completely different attributes.
It has the oldest Pre-Alphabet Text on an Item
Pottery actually has the oldest pre-alphabet on any ware period. It was found in Northern Bulgaria in a fort that used to be a Roman road station. It dates all the way back to 7000 years ago, and it’s the world’s oldest writing.
Some of the depictions on there included the following:
- A swastika
- Linear writing
- Egyptian hieroglyphs
This was developed from proto-writing that happened in this area, but the signs are still undeciphered.
Ceramics are found everywhere!
Did you know that pottery can become ceramics and can be used in some strange devices? Lots of people think that pottery is just used in plates and bowls, but there are other strange locations that you can find them in, including the following:
And so much more. Ceramics and pottery are both used in order to help benefit others, and you can get a lot out of this.
Unique Foods Found in Pottery
One cool thing about pottery is how unique you can get with this, and archeologists have even found ancient pottery that is in a preserved state, with strange content.
Much of the older pottery usually didn’t have some plant manner sticking around, but there was an old plate found in Denmark that had more than just plant matter on it, and this 3000-year old pot showcased some clues to what people ate.
Some of the substance that was found included:
- Bovine fat
Now in ancient cultures, this was a rare meal find, but there are still research factors being taken into consideration to figure out what this is. It was an attempt to melt cheese, and due to the smell that was there, it got chucked away.
Not Pottery Until Heat is There
Pottery actually does need heat for it to be considered pottery. There are a few reasons for that, especially since it involves the composition of this.
The reasons are as follows:
- It’s a natural material
- If you don’t apply heat to dried pottery and it gets water on it, it’ll become mud
- When heat is applied, it changes the bonds of the piece, causing the material to become waterproof and permanent
So yes, pottery and ceramics go hand in hand, and although Ceramics is the chemical changes, pottery needs that heat.
Egyptians and Pottery
Did you know that ancient Egyptians actually used pottery when embalming? It was a super helpful way to help get rid of the organs, and there were reasons for that. The jars were usually used to store the organs of those that died after they were embalmed.
The reasons for keeping them around was the following:
- The person would need the organs later on
- The lungs, intestines, stomach, and liber were all important and put in canopic jars
- The gods would protect them
These jars were usually of a blue or green glaze on porcelain, and usually, it had stains that involved the gods Horus and Anubis, two important gods when a person traveled to the realm of the dead. These jars are found in many of the modern museums today, and it’s important that, when learning about these, you also see the different textures on each of these jars and why they matter.
Japanese Pottery and Firing
Japanese pottery, especially traditional ones, are fired in a different way compared to others. That’s because it takes much longer than your average firing piece. It was done like this for thousands of years, and most Japanese clay art is done in this fashion.
Some of the different facets of Japanese pottery firing include the following:
- They were fired in chambered wooden kilns that were called anagama
- They were either single or multi-chambered kilns
- The fire continued for either 24 hours, or up to a week
- The pottery cooling takes at least several days to fully cool down due to how hot it would get
Because of this, the process took forever, and it was so labor-intensive that pots usually only fired their work once a year, so it was a big thing for a potter to show off their work, that’s for sure.
Green Body Vs. Fired Body
There are two terms that are used in the materials that are used to fire pottery, and they are a green body and fired body. The main difference is the following:
- Green body means that it’s shaped but the heat isn’t processed
- Fired body means heat isn’t processed
This is usually attributed to the color that is present there. Sometimes, the unfinished bodies have a green look to them, and they look fresher and more natural, whereas the fired version is not transformed as of yet, and that means that it’s not ready yet.
Ceramic materials, which many pottery objects turn into, do actually help others. They are quite efficient, and some of them have really helped.
Two of the most popular ones are the following:
- Celcor, which allowed for a 95% reduction of hydrocarbon emissions
- Obsidian: which is a ceramic material
Obsidian is considered the first of these, while Celcor is one of the most innovative ceramic pieces, and in a sense is a form of pottery. Both of these have heat that applies to them, and they, in turn, can create some wonderful and meaningful items.
Early Ceramics Building
The reason for this type of building is simple: it made the job a whole lot easier for the potter.
The early ceramics building was a bit different than what you may know of. It was actually done by cooling where the object was placed on mats or large leaves, and this in turn allowed for the work to be built in a more convenient matter.
The reason why this was easier is the following:
- It allowed for the potter to turn the vessel when constructing
- Allowed the potter to add threads of clay better
- It is one of the earliest forms of the potter’s wheel, making it easier for the person
Now, the earliest versions of this were slowly, but later on, there could be a flywheel that was used to help speed up the throwing process for the potter as well.
Visigoth Pottery and the Takeover
One cool aspect of ancient pottery, si the fact that you can learn about the past from this. In Northern Bulgaria, you can look at Visigoth pottery, and it actually tells a story that’s both interesting and grim. During the 4th century, Romme helped with the German tribes that fled from the Huns. But, then, it actually became a decision that they did later regret.
The Visigoths actually made some distinctive ceramics, with some cool features including the following:
- They were dark gray
- They were molded from high-quality clay
- There was a lot
This meant that there were a lot of goths ousting the locals, and it turned into open warfare. There was even fire damage on a lot of this pottery, and it was concluded that at the excavation site, about 87 percent of it was from the Visigoths. So, pottery can tell you about the darker parts of history, and what happened in the area.
Ceramic Knives and Power
Did you know that you can use pottery and ceramics to create knives? Ceramic knives are popular, and they are something many have sought out for a good reason. But, did you know about the truth behind these knives?
They’re actually stronger than you think, and they have the following qualities:
- They are harder than steel knives
- They stay sharper for longer than a steel knife
- They are more brittle than them however
- They can snap if they’re dropped onto a hard surface
So yes, you can make pottery and ceramic weapons, and they have cool features to them that you may not have even known about until you read this, and it showcases the power of this art form, and just what you can do with a bunch of this.
Picasso and Pottery
Did you know Picasso played a pretty significant role in pottery? Picasso learned how to sculpt back in 1948, and one can see some of his sculptures. He actually worked in the Cote d’Azur in Vallauris. Picasso did live there for 7 years, and in those 7 years, he did a lot of different pottery sculptures.
Some of the cool facts involving this include the following:
- He made more than 3000 different sculptures
- He worked with many different subject material, from women to bullfights, birds, fish, and whatever
- Most of the work he made was often Mediterranean inspired
You can view these works, and while Picasso was known for his strange art that helped open up the modern era, he’s also known for his sculpting as well, and how he worked with pottery to make his art even more spectacular than ever before.
The Israel Jug
Did you know that Israel was home to an interesting jug that came all the way from the Bronze age? It actually was found in an archeology class, and it had some unique features that might not be seen in other types of pottery.
Some of the unique and interesting factors on the jar included the following:
- A figure of a person
- One that was done in super detailed nature
- The upper portion was created to adjust to the body
- The limbs and face were extended on
- The statue is sitting and thinking
It is a strange fusion that alludes to the fact that it might’ve not been done by the same potter since the two parts are very distinctly different. The vase is about 18 centimeters high, and it’s about 4000 years old. It was actually found amongst some weaponry, pottery items, and bones of animals, and many researchers have concluded that this was part of the funeral offerings, and it’s a unique jar that symbolizes a time period of and traditions that the area did have as well.
Jiggering and Jollerying
The shaping of pottery is quite different when you’re mass-producing it. One of the most popular ways is jiggering or jolleying, which was done on the potter’s wheel, and allows for the time to make wares to be lessened, and it’s a popular means of mass-producing pottery.
How is it done? Well, it usually includes the following:
- Jiggering is the way of bringing a shaped tool into contact with a plastic clay of a piece
- The piece is then set on a plaster mold on the wheel
- The jigger will shape the face, while the mold shapes the other
- This is then used to create flatwares
- Jolleying is then the production of the hollow wares and is the same as jiggering
Jiggering is a process and so is jolleying, and both have been used since at least the 1700s. In factories, these are both automated, and it allows for the operations to be done quickly and with minimal skill
Roman Pottery Engraving
Some of the cool factors of Roman pottery include:
Did you know that the Romans were a bit different from the greeks when it came to pottery? Pottery was produced for usage in Roman society, and you could get insight on how things happened when you looked at it. It was influenced originally by the Greeks, but now it has its own identity.
- They were originally influenced by Etruscan and greek, but then had its own separate identity
- The Romans engraved the designs on
- They were both coarse and fine wares
- The pottery was transported all over the empire
Roman pottery was known for the engraving and the beautiful textures that came from this, including some of the intricate designs that work well, and can ultimately look beautiful.
Additives are actually something that’s added to the body before you form it, in order to produce the desired effects of each of the wares.
Some of the popular additives include the following:
- Other textures
These are used in order to give your pottery product the added texture.
Sometimes, some people would use colored clays, along with grogs in order to make different patterns in finished wares. So, if you want to change some of the ways that the pottery looks, and some of the key patterns, you can do so with an additive.
So, what are some popular ways to add some color and combinations to this, well, you can add the following:
- Metal oxides
- Combustible particles
These additives are mixed with the body or pressed to create a texture, and these are some wonderful little additives that can help make a difference
All About Agateware
One cool way that you can customize pottery that you might not know about, is agateware. Have you ever used the mineral agate or heard of it? Well, you can actually add this to your pottery in different ways. The mineral agate is known for the layers of color that are put together. This is an interesting type of pottery that uses an exact means to truly make it look beautiful.
The process is simple, and it involves the following:
- Blending clays of different colors together
- However, not mixed to the point where they are losing their individual identities
- They are usually veined or mottled
- They are used in the UK and was a big part of ancient Chinese pottery
In the Tang dynasty, they are known as marbled wares. Because of this, there was great care used in the selection of clays that should be used in making this. They had to have the same temperature movement characteristics, which means that if you wanted to create a unique and wonderful design, they needed to have the same heat. It’s an intricate process, but it’s a unique clay skill that many potters are working to perfect.
The Plain of Jars
Finally, there is the Plain of Jars, which is an excavation that began in the Southeastern Asia area. It actually is an unusual pottery location, and it contains just a bunch of pots.
Some of the different factors that the plain of jars had, was the following:
- It was about 100 different places stacked with pots
- They were made from stone
- They weighed up to 10 tons
- It was arranged in groups that are as big as 400
Nobody knows the reason, other than some culture felt the urge to pull these at least 8-10 kilometers from the local quarry to do this. The cool thing about this, however, is that it actually has no reason for this, and people are still trying to figure it out.
The remains that were found there were actually about 2500 years old, and it had some interesting characteristics:
- They were left in the pots
- Some of the remains were interred into there
From this, it’s surmised that the lost society may have a connection to the ancient Indian jar fields, and it also showcases the ethnicity of the society that’s been lost possibly. It’s been surmised that this was a graveyard, where people were buried, and these jars were where their cremated remains are, but there is still research being done.
Pottery Facts are interesting and cool!
Pottery is fun art, and the cool thing about it, is these facts touched on some interesting concepts, including the following:
- Pottery history
- Techniques to change your pottery
- Some cool facts about the composition of pottery
- Different meanings to different pottery found within the history
Pottery is a very old, and very interesting type of art, in that there is a lot of information that is there, and many people don’t even realize the extent that this plays into our society. While we have moved more into the mass-producing side of things, there is also the fact that there is the chance that we can take a lesson from history, and learning about how ancient cultures and their pottery can ultimately help us.
Hopefully, these pottery facts helped you learn a bit more about how to perfect it, some cool techniques that you can try, and also a little bit about some of the most popular pottery items that are out there, and some cool things you can do with pottery as well.