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A Jacobson Production
Clay & Mankind

Pottery is the first synthetic material ever created by
The term refers to objects made of clay that have
been fashioned into a desire shape, dried, and either
fired or baked to fix their form.
Due to its abundance and durability, pottery is one
of the most common types of items found by
archaeologists during excavations, and it has the
potential of providing valuable information about
the human past.
What Is Clay & Where
Does it Come From?

Clay is a fine-grained natural rock or soil material
that combines one or more clay minerals with traces
of metal oxides and organic matter.
It is naturally occurring as rock is weathered and
crumbled down into dust.
Where to find Clay?

You generally find clay along the banks of a river or streams or
if you dig deep enough into the earth. Earth that is dry and
cracked is a sure sign of a clay based soil.
What is Clay made of?

Potter's clay is also
known as Kaolin
or Kaolinite. It is a
mineral obtained
from the chemical
weathering of
feldspar minerals.
What is Clay made of?
Begin comprised of
mostly Silicate materials.
Clay exits in the the
largest and most
important class of rock-
forming minerals that
make up approximately 90
percent of the Earth's
Making it the most
abundant art material in
the world!
What is unique about

Plasticity - is the ability of clay to be bent or stretched.
The more plastic a clay body the more workable the
clay and the easier it is to shape into pots.

Clay is abundant, cheap, and adaptable, which makes

it convenient for human exploitation. Because usable
clay is widely available, pottery was independently
invented in many parts of the world at different times.
The History of Clay
The earliest recorded evidence of clay usage dates back to the Late
Palaeolithic period in central and western Europe, where fired and
unfired clay figurines were created as a form of totem /charm .
The purpose of the carving is the subject of much speculation. Parts of
the body associated with fertility and childbearing have been
emphasized, leading researchers to believe Venus of Willendorf may
have been used as a fertility goddess

Venus of Willendorf c. 28,000 B.C.E 25,000 B.C.E.

The History of Clay
The Babylonians used clay to make bricks. Stone was difficult to
come by and move. Clay on the other hand, was easy to mix and
shape and once dry, was a valid support for early constructions.

The History of Clay
But potters also used fired clay to make dishes
and plates and cups and cook pots. The first clay
pottery was made around 6500 BC by Neolithic

Greek Pottery

The word "ceramic" comes from
the Greek word (keramikos),
which means "of pottery" or "for
The Greeks used pottery vessels
primarily to store, transport, and
drink such liquids as wine and
Historical Facts about Greek Pottery

In ancient Greece, potters were
responsible for gathering,
molding and firing clay into
Greeks were the first culture to
attribute their potters to be fine
artists some famous for their
Once the vessels hardened and
were decorated, the potters sold
them in the marketplace.
Historical Facts about
Greek Pottery

The ancient Greek culture were the first culture to master
clay as a functional yet beautiful art form. (1050 - 900BC)
Pottery in Ancient Greece was painted with both abstract
designs and realistic murals depicting everyday Greek
Greek Pottery has a remarkable durability (even when
broken) and due to its lack of appeal to treasure hunters,
is one of the great archaeological survivors and is,
therefore, an important tool for archaeologists and
historians in determining the chronology of
ancient Greece.
Greek Pottery Styles
The four main pottery styles
include Geometric,
Corinthian, red-figure and
black-figure designs

Greek Pottery

Human Figures were invariably portrayed from the side,
i.e., in profile. The pots made at this time were the
earliest in Greek art to show narrative scenes from
popular myths, particularly those about Heracles.

The other two distinct Greek pottery decorating styles.

Black figure
Red figure
Greek Pottery Decoration
There are two distinct Greek pottery decorating styles.
Black figure: Figures and ornaments were painted on the

body of the vessel using shapes and colors reminiscent
of silhouettes.
Black images on a red back ground
Greek Pottery Decoration
There are two distinct
Greek pottery
decorating styles.
Red figure: figural

depictions in red color
on a black
Red figure is, put
simply, the reverse of
the black figure
Red-figure depictions
were generally more
lively and realistic
than the black-
figure silhouettes.
Greek Pottery

Is this red or black figure?
How was Greek Pottery

Greek pottery was invariably made on the potters wheel
and usually made in separate horizontal sections: the foot,
the lower and upper body, the neck, and finally the
These sections were then joined together with a clay slip
after drying and it is possible in many cases to see the
prints of the potter impressed on the inside of the vessel.
Examples of Greek Pottery

Native American Pottery

Native American pottery is an art form with at least a
7500-year history in the Americas.
Many of the native American tribes used pottery and
native American ceramics, even before the Europeans first
came to the Americas.

fig. 6: Maria Martinez prepares for firing,

ca. 1920-25.
Native American Pottery

They used clay for utilitarian cooking vessels, serving and
storage vessels, pipes, funerary urns, musical instruments,
ceremonial items, masks, toys, sculptures, and a myriad of
other art forms.
They needed these vessels gathering water, storing grains
and liquids, and preserving seeds for the next planting
Native American Pottery
Historians generally believe that fired clay pottery

developed because ancient people lined their woven
baskets with mud-clay. When the baskets were subjected
to fire so that corn or other foodstuffs could be dried, the
basket burned, leaving hard, durable clay intact. It is true
that many primitive pots bear texture marks indicating
that they might have been made in baskets.

ig. 5: Mimbres burial bowl, ca. A.D. 1000-

Native American Pottery

Various tribes had their own styles of making the Native
American ceramics. Some of the styles including firing the
pottery and different tribes had various patterns and ways
of finishing the ceramics.
Clay is a tradition and the pottery was made by the
women. The trade or skill was taught by mother to
daughter and passed down to each generation.
Astonishingly, the potter's wheel was never used
anywhere in either North or South America
Native American

A jar from a prehistoric pueblo
Examples of Native America

Famous Native
American Potters

Maria Martinez, Legendary Potter of

San Ildefonso Pueblo
Famous Native American Potters
Num-pa-yu, meaning "snake
that does not bite".
She used ancient techniques
for making and firing pottery
and used designs from "Old
Hopi" pottery
Hopi people make ceramics
painted with beautiful
designs, and Nampeyo was
eventually considered one of
the finest Hopi potters.
Nampeyo learned pottery
making through the efforts of
her paternal grandmother. Nampeyo - Hopi,
Nampeyo - Hopi
Famous Native American Potters
Few craft artists can claim the worldwide honor
and fame bestowed upon Pueblo Maria

Martinez during her lifetime. This modest,
traditional, Pueblo woman received honorary
degrees from major universities, countless
medals and citations from governments and
institutions, and special invitations to the White
House from four different Presidents. She was
one of the most famous craft artists in the

Maria Martinez,
Today and Clay

Most of your think of dishes or other art type

projects being made of clay.
What Else is made of
Ceramic Clay?

electron consumption in the
ionic and covalent bonds
cause most ceramic
materials to be good
thermal and electrical
What else is made of clay?

Stoneware baking dishes can be washed in the dishwasher, used in the microwave and
oven. Will keep food warm and dont tend to burn food.
What else is made of clay?

Most ceramics are hard, chemically inert , refractory (can withstand very high heat
without deformation), and poor conductors of heat and electricity.
They are also used as common electrical and thermal insulators in the manufacture
of spark plugs, telephone poles, electronic devices, and the nose cones of spacecraft.
What else is made of clay?

Newer dental fillings include ceramic compounds

that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. Fake
teeth are also made from ceramic material.
What else is made of clay?

A Concept car begins with a series of drawings, starting with rough

sketches and progressing to the designs on computer. Traditionally, the
next step is to model the car with modeling clay. It is molded into shape,
then hardened, painted and shellacked to look like an operational vehicle
. The cost of developing a full-sized clay concept car for a major
automaker is generally greater than $100,000 and can be as high as
$300,000 or more, with much of this money going to pay the salaries of the
highly skilled designers and modelers who often put in weeks or months
on the project.
Wedging is a process which
is used to prepare clay for
Without being wedged, clay

will have an uneven texture
which makes it hard to
build with.
Un-wedged clay can be too
wet and will not hold its
shape. One of the other clay room
rules of the clay room is to
wash all your clay tools and
put them back!
Un-wedged clay can
also be too dry and will
crack and not stick
Clay that is not wedged
may also have air
Air pockets are tiny
holes in the clay will
cause your project to One of the other
clay room rules is to
blow up! keep wedged clay
wrapped in plastic
so it does not dry
So why do we Wedge?
1. Mixes the clay
2. Removes excess
moisture from the

3. Removes air pockets
from the clay.
4. Aligns the molecules
in the clay.

Quick Question? Recall from

6th gradewhat do we call
this shape?

Stages of Clay

Clay ware takes on varying physical characteristics during the
making of pottery process. At each stage the clay body changes. It
is important to know each of the stages so you know how to
handle and effectively build your clay project.
5 Stages of Clay
1. Plastic
2. Leather hard
3. Green ware
4. Bisque ware
5. Glaze ware
Stage 1: Plastic
The first stage of clay,
clay is most soft,
moveable, and bendable.
This is the stage in which
we build with clay
because it is soft but still
will hold its shape.
Clay can be joined with
other pieces by scoring
and putting slip between
pieces to bond them
Stage 2:

At this stage, the clay is still
visibly damp (usually a darkish
gray) but has dried enough to
be able to be handled without
The clay is able to be gouged or
incised (carved into) without
breaking, but will not receive
impressions and will crack with
too much pressure.
Clay is still cool to touch, good
time to do detail carving, &
clean edges.
Stage 3:

3. Clay is also called Bone
Since the water have
evaporated from it it is VERY
Greenware should not be
handled or moved.
It is clay that is left out
uncovered to dry.
Still can be recycled by
adding water to it.
This stage of clay is ready to
be fired in the kiln.
Stage 4:
Bisque ware

Clay that has been fired
Turns to a bone white
This stage is ready to
Is not waterproof, will
absorb water, therefore it
needs to be glazed.
This stage of clay can not
be recycled.
Stage 5: Glaze ware
The final stage of

clay, 3 coats of glaze
have been added.
Glaze adds color,
shine or texture.
Glaze also makes
clay more durable
and stronger.
What Stage of clay is

What Stage of clay is

What Stage of clay is


Stage of
clay is
of clay
is this?

What Stage of clay is this?

What Stage of clay is

Lets check your
understanding of the 5
stages of clay!
Plastic Stage of Clay
Describe three characteristics about what this
stage of clay is like?
Leather hard stage of clay
What are 2 characteristics of this stage of clay?
Green ware Stage of Clay

What is this stage of clay like?

Can it be recycled?
Bisque ware stage of clay
Explain what bisque ware is and how its different
from Greenware?
Glaze ware stage of clay
Explain 3 reasons why we have to apply glaze to
the clay?
Clay Methods of Clay Construction or
Hand Building with Clay

Methods of Construction or
Ways to Hand Build with Clay

Pinch Pot
Coil Pot
Slab Construction

Clay Hand Building Methods

(18 minutes)