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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCool Careers Without CollegeCERAMIST AND POTTER - Description, Education And Training, Types Of Clay, Outlook, For More Information - Salary


Clay is a natural material that can be found along banks of streams and rivers. Natural clay is available in many colors, including white, ivory, yellow, gray, red, blue, and black. However, professional ceramists and potters buy clay that has been cleaned of pebbles and grit. The clay is mixed with other ingredients to make it suitable for commercial use.

The difference between ceramics and pottery is the surface of the finished object. Porcelain and stoneware, which are hard and extremely durable after being fired in a kiln (a special oven that reaches very high temperatures) are ceramic. Earthenware, which is softer and much more porous when fired, is pottery. Nearly all ceramic or earthenware creations must be coated with glaze and fired again (at least once) to decorate and seal the surfaces. Glazes can be transparent, opaque, clear, or colored. They can be used to create a variety of surfaces, from dull to shiny.

Before beginning a project, the ceramist must knead the clay to eliminate air bubbles trapped inside. The ceramist checks the clay for air bubbles by cutting through it. If the clay contains even tiny imperfections, it can fall apart or explode under the stress of firing.

Ceramists and potters can fashion many items out of clay, including mugs, plates, jars, pots, bowls, and vases. People who earn their living from their pottery usually design and craft their own distinct lines of products.

Some ceramists and potters produce their designs in volume, while others specialize in one-of-a-kind pieces. Ceramists and potters sell their work from their workshops, in stores, or at craft shows and fairs.

Some people build their designs by hand, while others fashion them on a potter's wheel. Using the potter's wheel may look easy and its products can be beautiful, but it takes a lot of practice to master it.

Ceramists and potters work in studios, either in their homes or in shared spaces. Either way, a studio is an area fitted with worktables, a kiln, and many other kinds of equipment. It may not always be necessary to own all the equipment, but for the professional it certainly helps.

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