Making Pottery for Business or Pleasure If you are looking for a great creative outlet or a new hobby that can bring in a little spare change while you are at it, you may want to consider learning to make your own pottery. It is a great and fun hobby that isn't terribly expensive, once you have the initial tools of the trade and is a lot of fun for many people around the world. Moreover the results of your efforts when it comes to pottery making are actually useful items to have around the house or to bring in a little extra income selling on Ebay or at local craft fairs and flea markets. Well-made and carefully selected pieces of pottery also make excellent gifts for friends and family. If you are one of the millions of people around the world who really feel the pinch around holidays then learning to make your own pottery can really help to soften the blow while providing great gifts for those you love. There are many useful purposes for pottery not the least of which is as bowls, baking dishes, containers, pitchers to hold liquid, vases, pen and pencil holders-the possibilities are virtually limitless for what can be done with pottery once you have the basic tools in your possession as well as a few primary skills that are necessary to create the wonderful works of art. One thing to keep in mind is that making pottery is not a one size fits all process. There have been many different methods for the creation of pottery that have been utilized throughout history by many different cultures and the results are all similar in many ways while remaining quite unique to the culture, the clay, the people, and the history of those who have created the pottery. Well beyond the actual tools used in the making of the pottery there are different markings that are placed upon the many pieces that often represent the artisans that created it or the tribes that were responsible for a particular style of pottery. In today's pottery the tool markings are often symbols of the artisan and are almost all unique to that particular artist. This eliminates the likelihood of forgeries and gives credit to the artists who craft individual items where credit is due. When learning to make pottery it is important that you are willing to learn several different styles of creating beautiful art with ceramics in order to have more versatility. The more styles and techniques you familiarize yourself with the more likely you are to find a style that you most enjoy and have a wider range of skills from which to draw when creating new works of art. Pottery is an immensely useful skill to know and there are many amazing and beautiful styles that can be learned for creating these beautiful pieces. Take the time to learn as many as you have access to learn. Another thing that must be done when learning to make pottery is not only learning different styles of pottery but also learning to use your imagination when creating pottery so that you can see new and useful creations to be made. Those little touches are the very things that allow one artist to stand out from all the rest. If you can create a style that is uniquely your own when it comes to making pottery then you will enjoy far greater commercial success as an artist. Even if you are only learning to throw pottery as a hobby the more styles you have mastered, the more you will enjoy making your own beautiful pieces and the more versatility you will have in their creation. Whether you use your skills to create platters, bowls, cups, plates, bake ware, spoon rests, vases, or any number of other delightful creations you should find great pleasure in the creation of these pieces first and foremost. The more you enjoy making pottery the more you will find that you want to make. The Rebirth of Pottery It would seem that lately, all things old within the realm of arts and crafts have suddenly been made new. The same holds true for pottery and it really doesn't get much older when one considers some of the popular crafts of today, perhaps textiles but that's another story all together. At any rate, pottery making has seemed to enjoy a sudden rebirth of popularity and this is really a great thing. Not only is this a great way for young and old alike to find common ground it is also a way of producing something that is useful in the end. Many hobbies are merely decorative or entertaining. There are few exceptions to this such as knitting and pottery making, which create things that are useful in their own right rather than merely nice to look at or sit upon a shelf. For younger adults, teens, and children pottery making provides a creative outlet and keeps minds and hands busy on positive things rather than dwelling on negative or painfully idle. It is a great idea to keep kids busy and a hobby such as pottery making does just that. It takes an investment in time to create beautiful pottery by working the clay. There is also time involved in the glazing process. There is also a very real sense of excitement that takes place when waiting to see what the finished product looks like once it has been properly fired. It's a fun hobby that is always new, different, and exciting. If you have never tried pottery before, I strongly urge you to go out and buy one of the cheap little pottery making kits you can find in local stores. While there are bigger and better things you can work up to when it comes to pottery these make a good solid beginning and allow you to get your feet wet without going in over your head in the sometimes muddy clay filled water of the pottery world. These projects are generally quite simple and give you a decent feel for what it's like working with clay. It is important to realize that this is not a hobby for everyone but most people either love it or hate it. There are very few with mediocre reviews. Once you have a feel for pottery so to speak and have decided to move on then you might really want to consider checking around for community courses that are offered in pottery. These are often less expensive than art schools or college courses in pottery and often provide excellent instruction and time on the wheel, if the potter's wheel is something you are hoping to work with. Not all potters enjoy wheel work though this is something you must decide for yourself. Hand building is where most potters begin and a good foundation in the skills that are ultimately needed when working on the wheel. If you are enjoying the current rebirth of all things craft, then you should really become a true Renaissance man or woman and try your hand at pottery to add to your collection of useful skills in the modern world. It's not likely that you can go wrong in this adventure. You just might find that this is an exceptionally fun skill in which to invest your time, talent, and energies. Great Uses for Pottery If you are just beginning to collect pottery I will let you in on a little secret that avid collectors know all too well: pottery is infinitely useful and extremely versatile. This means that most pottery can function in more than one capacity. You do need to make sure that there aren't certain restrictions on the pieces you purchase though most dealers will let you know the necessary care instructions and precautions that should be taken when you make the purchase. That being said most pottery is dishwasher and microwave safe (depending on the glazing method-Raku pottery is not), food safe (again this depends largely on the glazing method and any paints that may have been used), safe for use in the oven, and able to hold liquid. This means you have a lot of options with most pottery pieces that go well beyond the uses for which the specific piece may have been designed to carry out. Storage. Vases are great for holding things. They are by no means limited to flowers. Small pottery pieces are great for holding perfumes, particularly those with stoppers, or oils, and countless other small treasures you have lying around. Larger pieces are great for storing large stores of food. And various medium sized pottery pieces make excellent canisters in the kitchen for storing all manner of items. Display. Of course there are many pottery pieces that we want to showcase and display but did you realize that pottery could also be used to display other items you want to show off in the home. We have a pottery spoon rest that we decided to use in the bathroom as a soap dish. It's great for displaying the special hand soaps in the bathroom and adds a little splash of color to the bathroom counter top. Cooking. Believe it or not, pottery can withstand fairly high temperatures with grace and style. This makes it an excellent choice for cooking in many households. We use pottery in the microwave and the oven, though never stove top for preparing and serving all kinds of dishes. If you are wary about using these beautiful pieces for cooking, they do make excellent choices for serving food. Dining. Stoneware is a very popular style of casual dinnerware these days and with good reason. Not only is it a beautiful addition to any table but it is also quite versatile. You may also find mugs, plates, and bowls that are thrown or hand built for your dining pleasure. Regardless, most tables are greatly enhanced by the addition of pottery rather than many other choices on the market today. As you can see there are many things that may be done with pottery today. Be careful that you do not establish molds for your pottery to conform to or you will miss out on much of the versatility that many find the primary incentive for investing in pottery for the home. Pottery is a beautiful addition to any home and should not be hidden away but used fully and regularly in order to enjoy the true value of the pieces and get your money's worth from the use of these pieces. The true value in pottery is in how much it enhances your life; it won't enhance your life very much if kept locked away in the kitchen cabinets. The Shape Pottery Takes Pottery has been around for centuries and is seen today in many forms. From wholly utilitarian to stunningly beautiful and incredibly fragile there are many faces to what we know of as pottery and to create those faces are many different tools, tips, tricks, and techniques. Most pottery artisans have a preferred method of marking and creating the pottery they love to make and among the most common tools used in pottery around the world today are the potter's wheel and the human hand. Hand building is literally working with your hands to shape and mold the clay into the form you wish it to take. Much more tedious than working with a potter's wheel, hand building allows far greater control and much more finesse than using the wheel allows. For artisans who love to work with clay as an emotional outlet or simply enjoy the maximum degree of control over the clay possible, hand building is often the preferred method. Using a potter's wheel is the other most commonly used form of working with clay in order to create all manner of pottery. Much quicker and more streamlined than hand building, the wheel offers a creative outlet in its own right. There are many potters who feel that the turning of the wheel inspires them more than the clay that is set upon it. Truth be told there is inspiration to be had by both hand building and working with a potter's wheel to those who reach out and grab it. Preferred methods aside both are infinitely enjoyable to practice and incredibly fun to learn. If you are considering learning to create your own pottery I highly recommend that you take classes that involve both wheel work and hand building clay before deciding on one over the other. You may find that both are suitable according to your mood or the project you are working on at any given moment. There are other tools that are used for shaping the clay that will one day become pottery and a seeming infinite array of tools that can be used to make markings in the clay for decorative purposed. The options are virtually limitless in this and are often fed by the imagination and the creative spark within artist working the clay. Not only are the methods of working the clay important to the overall appearance and design of the finished pottery piece but also the tools that are used to mark the clay and the glaze used on the pottery have an enormous effect on the overall look of the finished piece. Glaze is used for many purposes not the least of which is decorative. One important thing about glazing pottery though is that it makes the piece water tight. The firing process is likely to altar the coloring of the glaze and this should be kept in mind whenever working with glaze for decorative purposes. Firing is a necessary stage in the creation of pottery. In fact, it really can't be called pottery until it has completed this phase of production. Firing is also not a one-size fits all process. Different temperatures are required for different results and you should understand the various aspects of firing pottery before attempting this for yourself. Classes are highly recommended to gain a proficiency in working with kilns for the firing of pottery. Firing not only alters the appearance of the pottery being fired but also makes the pottery stronger than it's brittle state prior to firing. What all of this amounts to is the fact that creating pottery allows for nearly infinite possibilities when it comes to function and form. You can choose to make the pieces utilitarian and plain in appearance or ornate in design and quite beautiful. The choice is completely yours as you embark on your journey to ceramic artistry and craftsmanship. Just remember to take things one step at a time and enjoy yourself as you learn more and more about this exciting craft. Pottery Kits for Potential Potters Pottery is a great skill to learn and a good deal of fun. If you are the type of person that has a mild interest in pottery but aren't sure you want to make the level of commitment required to take a class on pottery you may find that various pottery kits on the market offer some degree of appeal to you and can help you determine if you are ready to go a step further and sign up for some classes or purchase additional materials and equipment in order to further your home education. Pottery kits are also an excellent idea for kids who seem to have an interest in pottery but often flit from one interest to another fairly quickly without giving too much effort to any. If your child successfully completes a few kits and still exhibits an interest, then perhaps the more substantial investment of lessons may be in order. Kits definitely cost less than the average lessons but also offer fewer options for advanced learning and one on one instruction that can be invaluable when taking pottery lessons. Pottery kits are much less expensive than taking traditional lessons. This allows you to gaze your true interest in pottery when faced with the reality of what pottery is and is not. You should keep in mind however that there are many other considerations that should not be overlooked when using these kits to judge your real interests in pottery as the kits are often very simple and designed to be fun for beginners though not very challenging. If you are looking for a challenge, it is unlikely you will find that in many of the pottery kits that are on the market today. Another thing to remember about pottery kits is that the products you make in these kits are not likely to be watertight or able to handle food. This limits the usefulness of these items though it doesn't mean that they aren't good tools for learning the very basics of the craft and having a lot of fun in the process. One great thing about pottery kits is that this is something you can do with your children if you are so inclined and you can all have a fun day together while learning a new skill and making a really big mess. There aren't too many times you can say that with your children that there aren't too many calories involved to count. Pottery kits can be found to fit many different budgets and a few different levels of pre-existing skills. You can always upgrade equipment later if you find that you really do enjoy the process of working with clay to create pottery pieces and if you decide to upgrade, then you will want to do a good deal of research to ensure you are getting the equipment that will best suit your specific needs, desires, and budget. Learning to make pottery is a great deal of fun for the right person. Pottery kits offer a glimpse into working with clay and creating pottery for those who aren't quite certain whether or not they want to pursue pottery making on a larger scale. If this is you, pick up a pottery kit today, you can find them easily online and at most local craft supply stores. Remember have fun! Pottery Adds Decorative Flair Pottery is often overlooked for its decorative appeal with the message often getting lost within its incredible versatility and usefulness. The truth is however, that when it comes to decorating and lending style, pottery is a great way to go when decorating in almost any theme or style of decor. I have found very few rooms in my time in which some style of pottery would not suit the overall design scheme of the room. I would think that there really are very few. Even modern Gothic styled rooms have plenty of appropriate opportunities to use pottery to enhance the theme. All in all, pottery makes an excellent accent for home decor. The first thing that comes to mind is a pottery vase. These can hold live plants, flowers, fake greenery, or simply contain your prized marble collection out of sight and away from the little ones. They look great standing on the floor, on mantles, and on tabletops in addition to many other places throughout the home. A vase looks good in almost any room and is quite functional while also being quite beautiful depending on the style and artistry of the particular vase in question. Stoneware plates are great decorative additions and look wonderful on plate rails or on wrought iron plate wracks that are designed to hold them on the wall or on a plate stand on a bookshelf or the mantle. Bowls are another excellent choice for decorating with pottery. They can be functional, holding fruit on a dining room table or kitchen counter tops or they can be simple adornment on a stand, displayed for the world to see, or holding candles arrangements, potpourri, or a collection of interesting and decorative balls. The possibilities are endless and you can change your pottery display to accommodate various seasons if you are so inclined. Pottery pitchers may also be very decorative rather than merely practical. Rather than holding your lemonade or iced tea you can fill the pitchers with floral arrangement of fresh flowers or a nice silk arrangement. This allows you to showcase the pottery you love rather than keeping it locked in the cabinets and reserved for special occasions that call for yet another pitcher of some cold beverage. It also allows for you to have some fun deciding all the neat and interesting ways to showcase your collection and shock and amaze those who visit your home. Flowerpots that are made of pottery can be used in kitchens to hold utensils rather than to hold plants. I am sure you can see where I am going with this. It is interesting to see how many different ways you can use pottery in your home. We have a small pottery pot that we actually use to hold bright and colorful straws. They provide easy access for the little ones to grab straws on the go, they are neat and orderly and out of the way. It works out great and adds a little splash of color to the kitchen countertops. Let your imagination be your guide when it comes to decorating with pottery but don't acquire all these beautiful pieces for your collection only to hide them in a dusty old cabinet or bookshelf. Let them be a part of your decor rather than something in addition to your decor. It makes owning these pottery pieces much more enjoyable and gives you the opportunity to stretch your imagination muscles a bit. Making Pottery Personal The growth of shops that allow consumers to decorate their own pottery pieces or ceramic items and have then fired on the premises have also given people the opportunity to make pottery personal. Not only can you make pottery personal for yourself but also as a gift for others. There are many different styles and designs from which to choose. This is something that is not only fun to do but also fun to choose if you have a special friend or loved on that is always quite difficult to shop for when it comes to birthdays, holidays, and such. Have fun making these gifts mean something for the one receiving the gift as well as you, the one giving it. Gift giving is often a very difficult thing with many people stressing over finding the right thing, the right size, the right color, or the right style. Then there is the added pressure of spending the right amount of money and remembering to include a return receipt in case the gift doesn't fit, is the wrong color, or may be completely unflattering. There are simply too many things that can go wrong. This is one reason that creating personal pottery gifts for friends and family is such a wonderful way to go. It's a gift that you get to give yourself and you get to give to your friends and family. Seriously, you get to enjoy the time you spent selecting and painting the gift you are giving. That is always a great thing. The selection process should be fun and appropriate to your friendship or relationship. If you have a favorite movie or song that you both love together the pottery piece can either be decorated in that theme or be that thing all together. Paint a cookie plate and cappuccino mug for your friend that you meet for coffee and biscotti once a week. Paint a princess crown for the little princess in your life or a monster light switch cover for the little monster "wannabe" in your life. For the man in your life you can paint a small "bank" for his poker night money. The possibilities are endless and you can always adjust themes suitable to the person you are painting for. Make household decorations that are appropriate for upcoming holidays. These are often gifts that keep on giving year after year as they are incorporated into routine decorating for the various seasons. Don't forget about Santa. Most pottery painting shops have plenty of plates from which to choose for painting and a Christmas themed plate for Santa's cookies is sure to please. Platters are also great ideas for all of the Christmas serving that must be done. Remember to follow the care instructions closely however as most of these types of platters are hand wash only and some of them may not be food safe. Just remember to have as much fun painting your masterpiece of a gift as you had selecting and planning it. Most shops have a gallery of sorts to help with ideas if you are truly stuck and many also have a picture book of past projects and creations that are eye catching and appealing. Be sure to check out the various books before beginning so that you don't see something that you wish you had seen first. Of course you could always save that idea for next time. Native American Pottery It is very difficult to assign a one size fits all description or philosophy to any Native American artwork. This by no means should diminish the incredible beauty of what has become known as Native American pottery in all of its forms. Each tribe contributing something beautiful and unique to the appearance of the pottery and yet all working well together under one umbrella, though I am quite certain that wasn't the intention at the time. The pottery of tribes from the Southwestern United States is probably the most famous. Part of this is that there are more pieces that are actually preserved from these tribes as well as the fact that they had rather unique firing methods and distinctive design elements in their pottery. This style of pottery is also well loved for the vibrant colors that are often used in its making. It is very beautiful and very distinctive of this particular region. The important thing to remember when it comes to Native American pottery is that it was purposeful in addition to being beautiful. These were vessels that were used to store food for the winter in more settled Native American societies. Pottery was a little more difficult to transport by those tribes that were nomadic by nature and much of the original pottery of various tribes was lost during forced relocations to various reservations across the country. This was yet another dark period in the history of the United States. Most Native American pottery was extremely practical though it should not be discounted as simple or even visually displeasing. Many of these pieces are stunningly beautiful and complicated designs that show real talent by the hands that created them. Bright colors were often used in the making of these pieces though there is no hard and set rule. Some of them were completely black and fired in a very specific style that also set them apart even among other tribes. Wedding vases are an example of Southwestern Native American pottery. The vases have two spouts that represent the joining of man and woman into one. The vase is created by the family of the groom prior to the wedding day and given to the couple filled with water that has been blessed by a holy man of the tribe. Drinking the water together, first the wife, then the husband is a symbolic gesture that is meant to solidify the matrimonial bond and publicly declare their trust for one another and anticipation of the future. It is a beautiful tradition and the vessels are simply stunning. There are many pieces that are still made today. Many of them may not have quite the same value in Native American society but have proven to be a source of income for the various tribes that specialize in pottery making throughout the Southwestern United States. Well beyond the pottery there are many other priceless, unique, and very interesting pieces of Native American design and craftsmanship that are an excellent example of the rich history and culture of the Native American pieces. If you have the opportunity be sure to check out the paintings and jewelry of Native American design. In addition to all of these there are Navajo blankets, baskets, and many other finely crafted items that are excellent representations of Native American life now and in the past. Fetishes are yet another popular item of the various Southwestern Indian tribes. If you are an avid collector or wish to be there are plenty from which to choose. Whether your interest in Native American Pottery is purely academic or from the point of view of a definite fan you should be glad to know that there are plenty of websites from which you can purchase Native American pottery if the price is right. Just remember that the historical and cultural significance of these pieces make them well worth the price you will pay and enjoy your pottery. Raku Pottery 101 For those who are looking for something a little bit different to give to friends and loved ones as gifts or something incredible to add to their own pottery collections Raku pottery has a great deal to offer. Each piece is completely hand crafted in the Raku style and prepared to very exacting specifications in order to hold the title of Raku pottery. Not only is the method of design exacting but also the firing method and the glazing method must meet very specific requirements for the proper finish. The final product however, is nothing short of spectacular in beauty when this process is properly carried out. Raku pottery is not for the faint hearted or those who prefer a quick and easy method of crafting pottery. There is very little that could be considered quick or easy about this process and if you are planning to purchase Raku pottery be well advised that you are paying for the process as much as you are paying for the finished product. Of course, the return on that investment is a unique and beautiful addition to your personal pottery collection of the collection of a friend or loved one. The extreme temperatures that are used in the creation of Raku pottery leave a beautiful finish or glaze on the pottery itself but render it impractical and virtually useless for many of the common uses of traditional pottery. It should also be pointed out that many pieces of Raku pottery, because of the materials used in the paint and glaze are not food safe products and will not hold up well in either microwaves or dishwashers. While many pottery pieces around the world are quite practical to own, Raku pottery is purely decorative and should not be expected for the common uses of other pottery pieces. If giving this as a gift to one who collects pottery you may want to make a point of mentioning that the piece is Raku and providing any care instructions that may have come along with the pieces you purchased. Most artists do include specific care instructions and cautions for Raku pottery pieces if for nothing else to preserve the beauty and protect the labor of love that went into creating these pieces. The Raku style of making pottery originated in Japan and has since lit the world afire, almost literally, with its widely held popularity. Though few craftsman have managed to dive into the Raku style whole heartedly, this style still remains in high demand around the world, particularly in the United States where we are seeing a few more artists coming out each year with a few Raku pottery pieces in their collections. Many of these pieces are purchased rather quickly though, despite high prices, continuing the great demand for these pieces. If you are extremely interested in owning a piece of Raku pottery it is quite possible to add smaller pieces to your collection at a much smaller price than the larger pieces, though these are still much higher than pottery that has been fired using traditional firing methods. The good news is that even at higher prices, it is possible to own some of these stunning pieces of pottery that are works of art in and of themselves even on a more modest working budget. Those who avidly collect Raku pottery exclusively will be the first to tell you that this is a significant investment though very few feel they aren't getting their money's worth in enjoyment of product. As long as you work to take proper care of these stunning pieces they will provide years of enjoyment for new and old collectors alike. Raku pottery, like all art, isn't for everyone. But those who love it are typically passionate about their love of this particular style of creating pottery. If you haven't had the pleasure, make a point of checking out any local artists that may have Raku works in their collections. Egyptian Pottery Ageless Beauty Ancient Egypt is a place of wild beauty and great fascination to many people today. Once, a hotbed of intrigue, commerce, and industry there is much about Egypt that remains dark and mysterious even in the modern world in which we currently live. One thing is certain however, the ancient Egyptians were artisans in their own right and one type of art in which they excelled was pottery. The pottery of ancient Egypt is often imitated today for many reasons. Scholars have come to some sort of consensus of belief that the ancient Egyptians may have been the first to use enamel in pottery-a practice that adds great beauty and value to the pottery pieces, making them a true work of art. The amazing thing is that this is something that was introduced, we believe, nearly four thousand years ago and is still valued in today's modern society. To illustrate just how important pottery was to the ancient Egyptians there are actually pieces of pottery that are included in the ancient hieroglyphics that depicted acts of day to day living in this ancient civilization. Pottery was included in more than a few of these glimpses into history establishing its importance and the commonality of its use. Pottery in ancient Egypt was almost always made for use rather than made for decoration. Even the smaller pieces were meant to hold perfumes with the larger pieces of pottery holding grains, water, wine, and even meat for later use or consumption. The pottery of ancient Egypt could also be found in many sizes to accommodate the different needs the pottery filled. It was common to find various pieces ranging in sizes from inches tall to three or four feet in height. Pottery was as common to the Egyptians of old as appliances are today and it did serve to make life go much more smoothly for the people who used it. In ancient Egypt pottery was also used for some of the most sacred rites of burial. Pottery pieces were used to hold certain organs after they were removed from the body during the embalming process to prepare the body for burial. Each of the following: heart and lungs, liver, small intestines, and the stomach were placed in four separate containers made of pottery and buried along with the body. It should be noted that the Egyptians are not the only civilization to use pottery in relation to the dead. The ancient Greeks also stored the ashes of their dead in ceramic containers. To understand the true beauty of the pottery of ancient Egypt one doesn't really need to understand the lack of sophisticated tools available to the ancient Egyptians to realize how stunningly beautiful many of the pieces really were. The fact that so many have managed to survive nearly four thousand years and many of them are quite well preserved allows us to glimpse not only the rise of pottery during that period of time and in that part of the world but also the evolution of this pottery as new methods were discovered and enhanced and as artisans improved and honed their skills. If you ever have the opportunity to visit a museum that has an exhibit dedicated to Egyptian pottery and have any interest at all in modern pottery I urge you to attend and learn about the fascinating techniques utilized by this ancient civilization to create works of art that are nearly impossible to rival today despite the wealth of technology that is at our disposal. If that isn't impressive to you, I would be inclined to believe that you are quite difficult to impress. Whether you appreciate history as much as the next guy or gal or not is not as important as whether or not you appreciate beauty. The ancient Egyptians had beauty down to a science rather than an art when it came to creating beautiful pieces of pottery. We are quite fortunate that so many have managed to survive the ravages of time, greed, and war to be enjoyed all these years later. Pottery for Storage Most homes have some degree of storage issues in the modern world. The kitchen is often a center of discontent among women for its lack of storage space and quite often storage options. Many homeowners' have turned to pottery to increase the amount of storage space in the kitchen through several methods. First of all, by purchasing different sized pottery bowls they can be stored one inside the other. This maximizes the use for that space while providing plenty of mixing bowls as well as baking bowls (most pottery may be baked though you should check the care instructions before baking or placing pottery pieces in the microwave). This provides storage by allowing the larger bowls to contain the smaller bowls and provides plenty of cookware for use in the microwave and oven of your home. Versatility and storage make great cabinet mates. As far as other storage options, canisters made of pottery are often attractive choices. Not only do these make nice aesthetic additions to most kitchen counter tops, they also make very useful additions for storing things such as flour, sugar, tea, coffee, rice, pasta, and other items that often occupy space wherever they can be crammed and make horrendous messes when not properly stored. There are many styles of pottery that are perfect for storing counter top items that will work well with a wide variety of home decor styles. If you are particularly discriminating in your tastes and needs for pottery storage options you could always approach your favorite artist about commissioning some special pieces for you private collection. This is often quite an expensive undertaking but it often gets you exactly what you are looking for to suit your decor and meet your storage needs. Larger pieces of pottery are great for storage as well and many of these can sit directly on the floor. It is important to keep in mind that one of the original purposes of pottery was for the storage of large amounts of grain. Larger storage vessels aren't needed as often today because most families do not attempt to store enough grain for the winter but rely on retail avenues for food during the months when food cannot be grown or harvested. If you happen to be a family that grows your own, the larger pottery, created to store large amounts of whatever, may be appealing to you. Of course you could simply purchase these pieces because they would make a great place to hold your penny collection or some other type of collection. Smaller pottery pieces are ideal for storing smaller treasures. They are great for storing a child's first tooth or the key to a diary or treasure chest among other things. For large and small storage needs chances are that there is a pottery piece that is almost perfect to suit them-within reason of course. More importantly, well-made and aesthetically pleasing pottery is a clever way of disguising the practicality of the pieces. Guests and visitors will think you are simple an amazingly well organized collector of pottery without ever guessing that your pottery hides away many of the items that lead to clutter in so many households. Another thing that can be stored in larger pottery pieces that are specifically designed to store these treats are plants. Some of the most beautiful planters are pottery and can greatly enhance both plants that are kept outside or inside your home. If you have plants that you are interested in featuring on the exterior of your home, a well-designed pottery planter is a great way to do just that. For the inside of your home, pottery planters are almost never the wrong way to go. For storage needs large and small and ranging from the everyday and ordinary to utterly extraordinary, chances are that there is some piece of potter that presents an ideal solution. Paint Your Own Pottery All across the country we are seeing little storefronts popping up all over the place that allow those who have no real experience working with ceramics the opportunity to create beautiful works of art with the paintbrush on pottery rather than canvas. Stores such as this are often attractive to consumers who wish to have the benefits of unique pottery without going through the process of learning how to make it themselves. One thing to remember is that what you will come home from with most of these classes are ceramics. There's nothing at all wrong with ceramics but I wanted to make sure that expectations were accurate. All of these shops offer a little something different from the others though common items you will see in most shops of this nature include ceramic tiles, teapots, cups, saucers, plates, platters, bowls, chip and dip sets, coffee cups and other seasonal items. A visit to a "paint your own pottery" shop is not something to be taken lightly when it comes to cost. You are essentially creating a one of a kind keepsake, unless you can manage two identical pieces and for this you should expect to pay a good deal. Not only are you paying the price for the piece but the studio time to paint the ceramic piece and the firing time to set the glaze once you've left. Most of these studios will either arrange for you to return to pick up your item once it has finished the firing process or will set up services to have it mailed to you upon completion. For those who will be doing this while traveling the mail service is often a blessing, as you do not have to worry about breaking your precious work of art in transit. If you happen to live near one of these pottery painting shops you should sign up for the mailing list if this is something that interests you. Many of these sorts of shops have special offerings for repeat customers and themed parties in order to bring in a little new business along the way. Every once in a while you can get some real gems at great prices through this process and at other times you will have the opportunity to paint unique pieces that are not ordinarily carried in your local pottery shop. It's also a great thing to do with a group of friends or for the little ones who need to find something worthwhile to give grandparents and other relatives for Christmas, birthday, or holidays. Many shops that specialize in ceramics or pottery for painting are small, locally owned and operated businesses. This gives you as the buyer the opportunity to support your local businesses and that is almost never a bad thing. It also keeps options such as this open for the one day when perhaps one of your own children is interested in art. He or she will have a place to go to explore that interest as long as we support shops such as this in our local communities. There are some of these shops that are franchises. This means that while they may have a presence in multiple locations, they are still owned by individuals in the community. If this type of shop is something that appeals to you for ownership you could always check into franchise opportunities that are available in your area. If your community doesn't have a shop like this already it is definitely an untapped market that may be perfect to support an idea such as this that provides a great deal of fun as well as an artistic outlet for so many. Regardless, if you haven't visited one of these shops you really should take the first opportunity to do so. Plan to be there for a while however as it often takes a while to decide on what to do first and plan to bring a big wallet as you are likely to want to do more than one. Wood Fired Pottery Throughout history, clay has had many uses. Initially it was used as a method for creating figurines and idols. Later, it became so much more and many of those earlier uses for clay still remain today. One of which is as the tool from which pottery is created. This allowed citizens of the world, centuries ago to store precious liquids, food, and other items and proves useful for many reasons, as well as decorative, all these centuries later. While it is widely believed that the firing of pottery is something that was learned very much by accident, it is also widely understood that the idea of firing pottery spread like wildfire, if you'll pardon the pun. In the beginning the firing of pottery was intended only to strengthen the pottery rather than as a decorative enhancement, though the strengthening was minimal and the ability to enhance pottery creative and artistically was greatly improved. As time moved on, as it inevitably does, various tribes and cultures made their own unique marks upon the pottery of their people. Most recovered pottery throughout history is easily recognizable according to tribe or people, not only because of the location in which it was discovered but also as the result of the artistic markings that were made upon the pottery and, in many cases, the method of firing the pottery that was used in the process of its creation. Early pottery wasn't glazed because of the high, sustained temperature that is required in order to glaze pieces. It simply wasn't possible to regulate these temperatures in early societies. It was several centuries before kilns were created that would allow pottery makers to control the temperatures of the fire and reach the desired temperature to improve options for glazing these precious pieces of pottery. Quite a while later we began using natural gasses to control and regulate the temperature for firing pottery. The problem with this is that in a world that is increasingly dependent on natural gasses and a limited supply there are many who feel this is an irresponsible method for heating kilns. Add to that the notions of global warming and worries over pollution, many are turning back to the trees for heat sources. The good news is that trees are a renewable source of energy to fuel the fires of the kilns and they burn clean. Of course this isn't the one-size fits all solutions and it isn't the answer that everyone has. There are still those who use natural gas or electricity to fire pottery. Wood is simply the choice that many artisans and craftsmen (and women of course) are making in order to do their part to save the planet. That being said, wood firing is a very time consuming process for firing pottery and involves no small amount of labor. For this reason, expect to pay considerably more for pottery pieces you purchase that are wood fired. If you are planning to make your own pottery you should definitely understand that wood firing is a very labor intensive process that requires constant monitoring of the fire and in many cases constant feeding of the fire in order to maintain the constant temperatures necessary to fire the pottery properly. The results are beautiful pieces that have a low impact to Mother Earth in the long or short terms of things. If you love the beauty of pottery and timeless appeal of owning something that is literally a piece of history in modern form, then pottery is certainly a great way to go. Throughout history pottery has proven to be both useful in a utilitarian sense and quite beautiful according to the artists that created various pieces. Whether you are looking for purchase or create pottery for business or for pleasure be sure to keep in mind that wood firing is one of the choices that is available for the creation of many remarkable pieces of pottery.
A Pottery Party fit for a Princess If you have a daughter I am sure you are constantly searching for the perfect birthday party that will be fun and entertaining. One great way to make your little princess have a very special birthday is by throwing a "paint your own pottery" birthday party for her and a few of her closest friends. This can be an expensive prospect if you invite her entire second grade class but if you limit it to 6 or 8 of her very best friends then you should be able to keep costs under control to some degree. The thing to keep in mind with a party such as this is to plan ahead. Many pottery shops that allow visitors to paint their own pottery will have deals and bargains that may be struck for birthday parties, showers, and other group events. By making plans early you can select one piece or a couple of pieces from which the girls can choose and establish a price for each piece and the firing of the pieces once the party ends. If there aren't any party plans around the pieces that strike the fancy of your little princess, though most have some fairly interesting pieces, you could perhaps establish a theme such as allowing each friend to make her own tea cup for a tea party theme. Each shop has a little something different to offer so keep this in mind when making plans. If you have an item in mind for the party that may be limited in availability make sure to reserve those pieces ahead of time so that you will have plenty for your party guests to paint. Another reason you need to plan ahead for parties of this nature is that most facilities require advanced notice in order to work out bargain pricing and many will provide a special room for the party guest in which you can bring food, drinks, and party favors for a little more fun and to add to the festivities. Your little princess is likely to agree that this is much more fun than an afternoon at that pizza party place and the guests will each be able to bring home a fabulous trinket and example of her artistic talents. Many of these facilities will require a certain deposit for reservation of the party room and you really should book as early as possible in order to insure the room is free during the time you wish to hold your little princess pottery party. If this is going to be a coed party there is no need to fret. There are plenty of pieces that can work for male or female guests and you can make small adjustments to the party theme to accommodate either or both if you have siblings or boy best friends to consider in the bargain. Regardless, a pottery party is still a fairly fun and unique party prospect for most kids and will definitely boost your ratings on the 'world's coolest parent' totem pole until the next major battle brews at least. Things you will want to consider before booking a party of this nature are the guests that will be invited. If this party is fit for boys and girls you will want this knowledge when making plans so that you may choose options accordingly. I don't know many boys who want princess crowns or teacups as a parting gift. You should also know the number of people you plan to invite. These parties typically charge a per guest rate and it can be quite high. Keep the invites small if possible or plan to invest a significant amount of money into making this party great. Also keep in mind that this really isn't a suitable environment for very small hands. There are many fragile items on display and all around. To avoid cuts and damages, keep the little ones at home for this particular excursion. Most importantly-have fun! Giving Pottery Gifts Pottery makes a beautiful addition to any home and an extremely thoughtful gift. Not only is most pottery quite beautiful from a decorative point of view, there are also literally tons of practical uses for pottery other than simply looking nice sitting on a mantel or decorating a shelf. Pottery is many things to many different people and there are all kinds of wonderful gift ideas that center around pottery if you are willing to take the time to find the perfect piece or have the imagination to create a nice combination of your own. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of housewarming gifts is a pottery bowl full of goodies. Seriously, it is much better than a basket for some and offers just as many alternatives for filling. There are coffee mugs made of pottery that can be filled with coffee snacks and single servings of favorite gourmet coffee beans. Chocolate dipped coffee spoons are excellent additions to this particular pottery gift as are biscotti or even your favorite muffins to enjoy with a nice cup of coffee. This is a great gift to share with a coffee drinking friend or sibling or to give yourself as a quick pick me up on a dreary day. Other great pottery 'basket' ideas include pasta related themes. There are actually colanders made of pottery that are perfect for draining pasta, washing fruit, and other such activities. You can fill the colander with dried pasta, a favorite sauce, a jar of olives, a nice bottle of gourmet olive oil, and a few favorite Italians seasonings to complete the theme. This makes a great gift for housewarmings, holidays, and birthdays. If you are really thoughtful, this is also a great gift to give to new parents and newlyweds as it gives them an easy night of cooking. Other great pottery gifts include pasta bowls, mixing bowls (particularly those of varying sizes that stack one inside the other), pie plates, and casserole dishes for baking. Most people appreciate anything that saves time in the kitchen and dishes that are suitable for both baking and serving save time, effort, and clean up, which are equally appreciated when all is said and done. For the people on your gift list with international designs you may want to consider a pottery Sushi set, Sake set, or rice bowls for their collection. These pieces are quite lovely in their own right and will greatly enhance the international dining experience. For those on your list that enjoy Japanese cuisine this makes a very thoughtful and elegant gift. Of course there are pottery pieces that can be made to purchase or found on a whim that include floral depictions, painted tiles, and other wall art that may absolutely be the perfect gift for a certain someone on your gift giving list in the near future. If you have characters in your family then it is quite likely there are a few pottery artists that may just have their number. I have seen some very interesting and lovely pieces that have been made from pottery and hope that you will find many along your travels that appeal to you as well. Giving the gift of pottery is often sharing something you love with the people you love. There are few gifts in the world that are better. The Beauty of Mexican Pottery All pottery from around the world has some similar qualities to all other pottery and some qualities that are unique to the culture in which it was crafted and created. There is much that goes into the creation of pottery pieces from the clay that is molded and shaped to the intricacy of carvings, paintings, glazing, and even the firing method that is used to, in essence, create the actual pottery piece. Mexican pottery is often considered to be among the most beautiful forms of pottery in the world today. Of course there are those who disagree as beauty is in the eye of the beholder but there is little doubt that it is among some of the most intricately designed pottery you will find around the world today. The Mexican pottery of today is made combining ancient methods with modern technology for a grand and beautiful effect. Some of the more elegant pieces of Mexican pottery on the market today are hand built rather than crafted on a potter's wheel and very few are made with the use of ceramics, relying instead on clay for these beautiful pieces of pottery. Various potters will have different styles of crafting their creations. Some may use the wheel while others will not. Keep in mind that many of the finer pieces that are most often associated with the best of Mexican pottery offerings are those that are made as mentioned above. Mexican pottery is sold around the world and greatly coveted by those who have a sincere interest in collecting pottery for its beauty and the method of design, which combines some of the ancient traditions that have been passed down through generations among artisans with the best in new technologies with a stunning appeal. Not all Mexican pottery is serious business however; there are plenty of pieces that are perfect for those looking to collect the more unusual, off the wall, and whimsical pieces of potter that can be found if one knows where to look. Mexican pottery sometimes takes on the shape of whatever the artist happens to fancy at the moment, depending of course on how seriously the artist takes him or herself. If you are in the mood to collect some of the mythical creatures of Mexican folklore, chances are that you can find a potter that will incorporate these beasts into his or her work (for the right price of course). There have been some quite famous pieces that have been completely whimsical in nature and serve as a great reminder that we really should avoiding taking our lives and ourselves so seriously all the time. Life is best enjoyed when the living are smiling and having fun. If you are looking for the best of both worlds, when it comes to pottery you really should try finding a good supplier of Mexican pottery that works with artists of different styles. Mexican pottery is so versatile and so beautiful that it would be a shame to miss out on some of the beauty by focusing on one particular pottery or one particular style of Mexican pottery when there are so many from which to choose. Regardless of what you look for when purchasing pottery there is sure to be something that falls under the heading of Mexican pottery that will appeal to your tastes, no matter how discriminating. The range in styles when it comes to Mexican pottery is extensive and you can find everything from pieces that are exceptionally formal to those that are completely and wholly created and crafted for nothing other than fun and enjoyment without any concern over complexity or value (other than the entertainment provided to the artist in the creation of a particular piece). Those are often the pieces that are actually worth the most because they often have an excellent story that goes along with them. Browse through various collections-I challenge you to do so without finding something that appeals to you. Throwing Pottery is Great Fun The act of throwing pottery, which is essentially to create pottery through the use of a device known as a potter's wheel is one that many people go into their first pottery class expecting to enjoy immediately. While it is an essential pottery skill for some of the many pottery techniques, it is not something that is generally taught in the first class of an introduction to pottery sort of environment. Unless you are taking a class that is particular focused on learning to throw pottery it is typically a skill that you will get around to eventually rather than jumping into feet first. If you are not a dip your toe in the water sort of person you can always find classes and courses (many of these are taught by art shops and museums in your local area or the nearest metro area). If you cannot find an acceptable course in your area you can always search your local library for information as well as purchase various videos and books that will teach you the essentials from book stores or online. The one thing to keep in mind when it comes to throwing ceramics or pottery is that it is often best to have some sort of fundamental understanding of working with clay before you begin. It just makes the process go a little more smoothly. If you are going to be throwing pottery or dealing with any sort of pottery on a regular basis you should familiarize yourself with the proper safety procedures for doing so. This is information that most people will receive when taking classes offered by qualified instructors and is vitally important as there are some dangerous materials that are often handled when working with ceramics. If not you can find a great list of safety measures for working with pottery by doing a simple search online. I do recommend you study them well as I am sure you do not wish to risk your health for the sake of a hobby, even one as enjoyable as making pottery. Even after you've managed to take a course or two on throwing pottery you may be interested in taking a course that deals with a specific design style of throwing pottery. One popular style is Raku pottery. You can often purchase videos for various styles that will be rather simple to follow once you have general throwing basics down and you can move on to more stylized methods of throwing pottery that are a bit more challenging and more fun in the long run. Increasing skills and expanding them is always a great pursuit and there are simply so many things that can be accomplished with pottery. Not only is throwing pottery a great deal of fun when learning and doing for yourself, it is also amazing and beautiful to watch someone else doing. There have been several videos made that consist of people throwing pottery and displayed on websites such as Google video or YouTube. These are often quite popular for viewers because the process is so beautiful in and of itself and then it creates something that is equally beautiful in most cases. If you have not had the experience to watch an experienced potter at the wheel you really should make an effort to do so. It's a type of magic that is all its own. Remember when it comes to throwing pottery that it is often best to begin small and work your way up to bigger and better things. The more you know about the little steps the better prepared you will be for the more complicated steps that come later. If you have the opportunity to take lessons from those with superior skills, do not take them for granted. Soak up the knowledge and experienced being offered and learn from the mistakes that others have made along the way. They are often far less costly and painful than your own similar mistakes would be. Paint Pottery for Girls Night Out Women around the country are constantly searching for something new and different to do for a great girls night out that doesn't involve a bar or a highly overrated movie. When you consider the fact that most women have different tastes in books and poetry, book readings or signings are often very hit or miss, physical activity takes some of the fun out of things, and dancing inevitably leaves an odd man (or in this case girl) out. Dinner is great but often over far too soon. How about an evening of painting, laughing, joking, and dishing with the girls at your local paint your own pottery shop? Seriously this option offers a little something new and different for you and the rest of the girls without putting too serious of a strain on your pocket book. Unless of course you get greedy and decide you simply must have one of everything. This is a new craze that seems to be taking the country by storm. You should be able to find one of these paint your own pottery shops somewhere in the vicinity of where you live and if there isn't one, this makes a great franchise idea to bring something new and exciting to your locale. The trick is always going to be making sure that you bring a fun and energetic group of women along on your pottery painting excursion. This is ideal for Red Hat Groups and other women's clubs that meet across the country as many communities have not only facilities that allow customers to paint their own pottery but most of these facilities also have 'party rooms' that allow food, drink, music and fun to be a part of the party. Can you imagine painting your own pottery while listening to great music, snacking on excellent treats, and dishing on the latest gossip, news, and current events with a few of your closest girl friends? More importantly no one gets stuck with all of the cleanup afterwards. It's a win-win situation for many girls night out groups and just for a group of girls out on the town for an evening or afternoon for that matter. There are of course other things you can do for a great girl's night out but few of them offer something you can bring home and display on your mantle when all is said and done. Painting your own pottery isn't merely fun, it's also productive. It's your ability to create as individuals or part of a group, something that will be a lasting reminder of the time you've spent together among friends. Very few nights on the town can prove nearly as productive and memorable. Whether you are celebrating an engagement, new relationship, divorce, new job, promotion, or just the glory of being a girl in the modern age there is something appropriate that can be found at most paint your own pottery type shops to suit the occasion. More importantly you can create these pieces in the manner you see fit. It isn't someone else's vision for the piece that you are bringing home at the end of the night (or after the appropriate burning time) but your very own vision. This gives you an even more tangible reminder of the event or situation you happen to be celebrating. All things considered, the next time it's your turn to plan a girl's night out, consider booking a paint your own pottery party for you and the girls. It will definitely be a night to remember and the details will never need to be fuzzy and the reminder of your evening in this situation is much more pleasant than a hang over the morning after as many girl's nights out end. Check around your area for local shops and possible packages that may be offered. You might be amazed to find out how the price compares to the typical night out you share with the girls. The Place of Pottery in a Tuscan Kitchen Tuscan inspired kitchens are all the rage in the United States these days. You see them on all sorts of television commercials, on magazine covers, and in many dreams across the country. There are some simple ways you can create a Tuscan feel in your kitchen without spending tens of thousands of dollars on renovating and ripping out walls, cabinets, floors, and such. One way is by adding a fair amount of pottery to your kitchen walls, counters, and backsplashes for a true Tuscan feel. Tuscan kitchens are known for character. Distressed wood floors and tabletops that look old and distinguished are the perfect fit for the average Tuscan inspired kitchen as are pottery pieces that have an aged or weathered appearance and are rendered in tones befitting the sun-baked, earthy look and feel of the Tuscan region. Pottery bowls and pitchers in these kitchens should be used for more than mere decoration though they are appropriate for decorative purposes as well. You want most of the decorations to appear not only decorative but also useful, which is one reason pottery fits so well with the theme. In addition to pottery, wooden bowls make an excellent addition to kitchens of this design as does wrought iron, grape vines, grape clusters, and wine bottles. But in the average Tuscan kitchen pottery has a tendency to upstage everything else. From pottery canisters to pottery crocks for holding utensils to pottery cake stands and dozens of potential pottery pieces in between there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate pottery into your Tuscan kitchen theme without breaking a sweat and it will seem perfectly appropriate too. Who could really ask for more than that? Well not many pottery lovers I know that's for sure. While you are setting the stage in your Tuscan kitchen for plenty of pottery on your countertops do not overlook the opportunities on your walls. Pottery wall sconces are great for holding candles or even skilled contractors to apply modern lighting. Tiles and plates make excellent wall decorations that are entirely suitable for a Tuscan themed kitchen and are a great deal of fun to select or have made. They add decorative touches for the most part but can also be practical when necessary (provided of course that they were created in a food safe manner) as platters or even chargers if they are slightly oversized. In addition to all the things mentioned above you can also add pottery napkin rings and stoneware dishes to the list of items appropriate for a Tuscan inspired kitchen. There is literally no end to the possibilities when it comes to bringing pottery into your Tuscan kitchen. I hope you have more fun shopping for these sorts of items and spend considerably less money than if you were to go through and demolish your existing kitchen in order to build a new Tuscan kitchen when you could have done a great deal to bring the theme into your existing kitchen without spending nearly the same amount of money. If you add a little paint, perhaps new cabinet doors, laminate flooring, and a new countertop to the pottery purchases you make, you could have twice the impact for half the price and what feels like a brand new Tuscan kitchen too! Pottery for Jewelry Pottery has many uses and has had many uses throughout the history of the world. One use that is often overlooked or not very widely known is as jewelry. Ceramics and stoneware make for some very beautiful and elegant pieces of jewelry as well as for some fun and very funky designs. If you are looking for a gift for a friend or loved one or simply something to dress up your own jewelry box a little bit then you might want to pay careful attention to the market and check out some jewelry that is made of clay. Finding these pieces may be a little more difficult than a trip to your favorite costume jewelry shop or department store. Most pieces of this nature are pieces that you may hand make if you are so inclined to do or those that may be purchased directly from the artists that create them. Occasionally you will find a potter who really enjoys the idea of making, or for that matter wearing, jewelry and has discovered a new talent that sets her (or him) apart from others in the field of working with clay. Other times you will find that jewelry making shops will have a few pieces of pottery that can be purchased to make your own jewelry with. There are a few options as you can tell and no reason to pick one over the other. You could always work to incorporate several into your jewelry collection. The more the merrier, right? There are many beautiful options available to those who wish to purchase or craft their own beautiful jewelry made from pottery. The possibilities are nearly as limitless as any other type of jewelry. There are casual pieces that can be crafted with pottery to create a fun every day kind of pendant or earrings as well as the more elegant pieces that are meant for special occasions and to really garner not only a great deal of attention but also more than your fair share of envious glances. Jewelry is an adornment that many women adore. Be prepared to have some jealous looks as you walk into any event wearing pottery jewelry. If you decide to learn to make your own pottery jewelry then it is possible to have one of a kind pieces (unless of course you decide to make more) that friends, families, and (more importantly) enemies alike will turn green over. In time you can perfect your skills and you will have developed a talent that can actually create great gifts for friends and family if you are so inclined. If you have a talent there is nothing wrong with using that talent to make things for those you love. Most loved ones will appreciate the time, talent, and attention that went into crafting the jewelry and find it to be even more valuable for all of those reasons. Purchasing jewelry made of pottery may be a little more difficult in some areas than others. The Internet makes the prospect a lot more convenient than in times past however. Look to popular bidding websites that specialize in artsy items as jewelry made of pottery definitely qualifies as artsy as well as something that is a little out of the ordinary, though becoming a little more popular every day. You should also check out local craft shows, jewelry shops, and pottery shops to see if they may have some jewelry made of pottery that catches your eye. If not then check out local flea markets and festivals that have visiting vendors. It's amazing some of the finds you can come up with at these types of events. Beautiful jewelry is no exception to the great craft treats that are available at these types of festivals across the nation. Keep your eyes open and on the lookout for some beautiful pottery pieces. You never know what you might find when you least expect it. Roman Pottery Forged its Own Path When it comes to pottery it is common knowledge that various cultures throughout history seemed to develop a style of making and adorning pottery that was uniquely there on. This is very true when it comes to the Roman style of pottery. Though it began in a manner that was very Etruscan in style, Roman pottery soon became an art unto itself. They did not borrow from the Greeks by painting decorations onto the pottery but rather molded shapes and forms into the clay as adornment. Most pottery in ancient Rome was initially made and used locally rather than traded with merchants traveling near and far. In the day of Augustus this began to change with the creation of pottery factories where the Romans began manufacturing pottery in order to sell it. This became very popular as factory owners could make pottery cheaply through methods learned from other cultures, such as the use of molds, and sell it for a nice sized profit. It wasn't long before this style of pottery making was being imitated far and wide creating some beautiful but distinctly different pieces that were molded and formed like those created in Roman factories. Most of the pottery made with the new method of construction or manufacturing was red in color rather than the black of the earlier pieces that were often painted black. Roman pottery was generally made by one of four methods. First is the method mentioned above involving the use of molds created by master craftsmen. The next method is known as the coil method. This is using a long coil of clay that looks like rolled up sausage. This method would be known as the coil method. The third method is known as the pinch-pot method and it is really rather self-explanatory. Finally, there is the potter's wheel. This method allows for very even shaping of the clay and is often referred to as "throwing" pottery. Oddly enough, these are among the basic methods used for making pottery today. The more things change, the more some things stay the same, right? Roman pottery can be found in digs around the world. The influence of the Romans was far reaching. It makes perfect sense that their products would be influential in the world at large while the Romans ruled most of the world. They were not, however, most well noted for their pottery. It didn't seem to play the pivotal role in Roman life that it managed to play in Egypt though it, the impact of Roman pottery, was still significant as we are finding these pieces in historic excavations the world over. Glazing was the exception rather than the rule for ancient Roman pottery. This is yet another way in which Roman pottery stood apart from other styles of pottery during that period of time and even today. When Roman pottery was glazed it was often done using metals for the process. The result was a beautiful glaze that closely resembled glass. If you are looking for yet another fascinating type of pottery to study and learn about, Roman pottery lacks the sophistication and beauty of many other styles of pottery throughout history and around the world but stands in its own right for it's simple beauty and elegance. This is something that many other pieces of pottery cannot claim and something that has been imitated and yet never quite duplicated by other cultures. Quite literally, the ancient Romans had simple beauty down to an art form when it came to pottery. Often the most recognizable for its lack of adornment, Roman pottery remains popular today among collectors and those who visit museums and galleries that are housing these fine collections. For those who love pottery for the sake of pottery there are fewer styles that should offer more appeal than that of the ancient Romans. Finding a Great Pottery Wheel There are many tools that a potter will use over the course of his lifetime as an artist. One of the most important to many potters is the potter's wheel. This device is used for a process that is commonly referred to as 'throwing' pottery. It is a very important device to many potters who do not enjoy the process of hand building pottery or need the ability to shape items in a very similar fashion. There are many instances, come to think of it, when a wheel is preferable to artists over hand building just as there are many situations when only hand building with clay is suitable. One thing remains however, and that is this: most artists who work with a wheel are quite picky about the wheels on which they will work. Selecting a wheel for pottery work is like selecting another hand to use. The wheel will be your constant companion as you work with clay and it is important that you choose a wheel that is comfortable for you to use first and foremost. If you aren't comfortable using the wheel you select, chances are it will diminish your enjoyment of working with clay over time. You do not want to sacrifice your love of pottery to something as simply fixed as choosing a different wheel for throwing pottery. You should also take care to choose a wheel that is suitable for the type of work you do. Not all wheels can handle all jobs. You need to choose a wheel that will handle the style of pottery you work with most as well as the weight of the clay you will be using. Read the instructions, warnings, and cautions carefully before selecting your potter's wheel in order to be quite certain that it will meet your pottery making needs. Space is another important consideration when selecting a potter's wheel. You need to choose a wheel that will fit within the space you have available for working with clay in addition to allowing you the necessary room to actually work the clay. You will find that there are many different sized wheels on the market today. Make sure that you either adjust your needs in a wheel or adjust your available space in order to accommodate the wheel you select. You should also pay close attention to the quality of the wheel you are purchasing. A potter's wheel is a rather significant investment. You want to make sure you are getting the best possible deal for your money. Go with a name you trust and if you aren't sure which name to trust ask people you trust: teachers, other artists, and gallery owners. Do not trust the salesman to give you adequate advice on a decision as important as this. He is driven by profit rather than insuring you get the most for your money. Choosing the best potter's wheel to meet your pottery making needs is one of, if not the, best gifts you can give yourself as an artist that works with clay. Take your time when purchasing your wheel in order to insure your continued enjoyment and success when it comes to making pottery. This is one decision that you are not likely to regret taking your time and doing the right way the first time. Giving Children the Gift of Creating Pottery In the world in which we live, children are faced with many temptations, good and bad. It is in our best interests as parents to tip the scales in favor of the good temptations our children will face whenever possible by giving them plenty of skills, talents, and creative outlets upon which to exert their energy and focus. Sports are great but most sports are limited to seasons. This leaves parents looking for things to keep their children's active minds involved and occupied during the off seasons for their favorite sports. Pottery lessons are a great way to give kids a creative focus while helping them develop quiet activities they can enjoy. This also keeps them too busy to spend a lot of time on activities that are detrimental and hopefully will fill the time that may otherwise be spent falling into the wrong crowd. More importantly, there are very few gifts you can give your children that are better than the gift of being able to create something beautiful, practical, useful, or simply unique and different from a lump of clay. Pottery is doing just that. First lessons for children should be simple and not too aggressive. Let your child set his or her own pace for pottery lessons and don't push him or her to go too far too fast. Like most things in life, your child will need to learn to crawl before he or she walks in the field of pottery. This often means learning the intricacies of hand building with clay before moving on to the potter's wheel though your child may choose to move on to the wheel and show no interest in hand building at all. The most important thing is that you keep your child interested or the lessons will be a waste of time and money resulting in the opposite effect of what you are hoping to achieve. Most communities offer some sort of art classes that include pottery sessions for children. Larger communities will have classes for children that specifically deal with pottery. If you are fortunate enough to live in one of these communities it is a great field to introduce your little ones too as you never know when true talent may show itself. If your child does display a good deal of talent or an avid interest in pursuing pottery further there are generally classes that can be taken for those who have had the basics and are ready to move on to some of the more advanced skills. Some art schools and community-based organizations will even offer scholarships to some students if there is sufficient talent and a financial need so the costs of these classes aren't often too terribly high. Most communities do make a concerted effort to keep the costs of these classes low in order to provide more productive outlets for children and be a positive force in the lives of the children that will one day be the future of our nation. If you haven't considered giving the gift of pottery lessons to your children as both a creative outlet and the opportunity to build something rather than destroy I hope you will do so after reading this. Giving the gift of creation to anyone is a great gift. Teaching your children when they are young sets the stage for even greater lessons to come. Great Places to Shop for Pottery There are many great places to shop for nice custom made pottery pieces in large and small cities and towns across the country. While many of these places are a little off the beaten path and often will not be found at the local 'mega mall' or 'super center,' there are plenty of shopping options available to most who are interested in buying unique and interesting pieces of pottery to add to their collections or even in order to begin a collection. The first to consider, and often overlooked, would be local garage sales. There is no small degree of truth to the saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure. You will be amazed at some of the amazing pieces you will find at garage sales for next to nothing. Many of the people selling these items are people, who do not appreciate pottery, were given these pieces as gifts, or who inherited them and have no real idea of the worth of these pieces or do and just do not care. Regardless, you can find many great pottery pieces at garage sales for a fraction of what you will pay elsewhere. The only problem is that you must often sacrifice a little bit of sleep for the better bargains or finer pieces. Flea markets are another excellent source of pottery pieces for the avid or even casual collectors. You never know what you will find at antique shops or flea markets and there have been many beautiful pieces gotten for a steal at places such as these. You will pay a little more than garage sale prices in these venues so be prepared to make an investment if you are truly interested in developing a pottery collection or adding to an existing collection. Ebay and similar online auction websites are other excellent sources for finding the treasures you seek in pottery. There are often plenty of pieces from which to choose and many of them fetch a rather low price. Be careful however that you do not find yourself sucked into a bidding war and pay well over the actual value of the piece unless it's something you really want from a personal standpoint rather than that of a collector. In a best case scenario you would only select pieces that add value to your collection and get them well below cost. Of course, life doesn't always work out in best case scenarios. Local craft shops and art galleries are another great place to find new and talented artists and vendors in your area for the pottery pieces you seek. If you develop a good working relationship with some of the local talent or a local vendor he or she will inform you of when new work is being presented, going on sale, and being marked down. Local vendors realize that the bread and butter of their businesses and they are also the ones most likely to buy something else when coming in to check out items on sale. Regardless it's always a great idea to support your local talent and local businesses whenever possible and assuming you actually appreciate the pottery pieces being sold. Traveling or annual craft fairs are also excellent for finding the pieces you want to add to your collection. Many artisans work year round in order to create a nice display of pottery for the local craft fairs and many of these pieces are quite stunning in beauty and design. Visit your local festivals and craft fairs and pay close attention to the different artists that have their works displayed. Pick up business cards, visit websites, and view gallery showings. You never know when you'll find that perfect, must have, piece for your pottery collection. Hopefully, the places mentioned above will provide you with a few excellent places to begin your search. The Internet also provides many excellent opportunities to find beautiful pottery pieces if you know exactly what you are looking for. Finding Pottery Online There are many ways to find great pottery. While it is often best to see the pieces in living color, the Internet offers opportunities for those who do not have ready or easy access to great artisans in their town or who prefer a type of pottery that typically isn't carried locally to find the pieces they desire to add to their collections without traveling extensively in order to do so. There are a few drawbacks to ordering pottery online and one of those would be the fact that you are only seeing a very flat representation of the finished product. In other words, it is very difficult for a picture to recreate the drama that a certain piece of pottery may have. The colors cannot be relied upon as accurate because of the differences in cameras, monitors, and picture quality. This means that if you are getting what you think is one color, that will match a certain feature in your room, you may actually be getting another color all together (blue and purple are often difficult to differentiate among other colors). This means that seeing the piece in person is definitely the best way to go if you have the opportunity. If not, be certain that the dealer from which you purchase the piece has a good standing with the BBB and a liberal return policy. Another reason you should display caution when purchasing pottery online is that you can't really gauge the quality of the workmanship through a photograph either. This means you may be getting flawed pieces and yet paying the price you would expect to pay for a perfect piece of pottery by said artist. Unfortunately we cannot trust everyone to be completely honest. It is a sad truth but one that should definitely be considered. Many flaws will not show up on camera, particularly if there is only one view of the piece. Pottery, even when flawed can still be beautiful but no one wants to pay more than a piece of pottery is worth, especially those that are collecting as an investment. If those reasons aren't enough there is the fact that it is always a good idea to support local talent whenever possible. If there is a good deal of support for local artists, chances are that more artists will begin to migrate to the area. Artists tend to build communities of like minded artists for some reason. Communities that support them often draw in more new artists, which means your choices and the local selection will improve with support and over time. Also, any money going into the local community is a good thing for everyone in the community. Jobs, spending and housing are all signs of a flourishing community. A community that supports the arts is another sign of a community that is growing. Last but not least, when purchasing online make sure that you take every precaution to protect your investment and know the company you are dealing with. Good business happens online every day. There are many more honest people doing business online than dishonest people but it never hurts to be careful and protect your money and your purchase. Buying pottery online can be quite convenient if you have the need but it is certainly not the only way to go.
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