Posts by Jake

Ceramics Around The Home

Posted by on Oct 31, 2015 in Ceramics | Comments Off on Ceramics Around The Home

Ceramics Around The Home

We’ve covered many different uses for ceramics on this blog, as well as businesses and trades where ceramics and ceramic goods are a major part of the picture. But what about ceramics you can find around your home? The odds are good there are some ceramics around your home, both inside and out. These could be in the kitchen, the bathroom or the floors, or even on the outside of the house, like in the case of ceramic doorbells and doorbell frames. First, let’s talk floors, since ceramic tiles can be found pretty regularly on the floors of homes all over the world.

Because ceramics don’t hold onto water like carpeting or untreated wood would normally do, you will often find ceramic tiles or similar flooring in places which are regularly wet. Kitchens and bathrooms in restaurants and homes are typically the places where the most running water can be found in a given day. This is why you see lots of ceramic tile floors in places like these. Vinyl tiles could do the job in some instances, but they really don’t hold up against extreme temperatures well without melting, so they’re pretty much useless in places which get very hot, like kitchens.

Doorbells were mentioned too, and that’s another place where you can find ceramics around your home. The frame for a doorbell is often used as a decorative piece for most homes, as a sort of way to dress up the front door. You don’t see this as often with wireless doorbells, like these, which are all about ease of installation and use. The houses which do feature them seem to be older homes as a rule, but with the way design schemes and styles keep rotating in and out of vogue, it’s probably only a matter of time before people start using ceramic doorbell plates regularly again.

If you have any pet fish or drive a vehicle of any kind for work, recreation or just to move around faster, the odds are good you have another location (or two) where you could find ceramics in and out of your home. Many fish tanks, or at least the larger ones, come with these things called canister filters which are just basically water filters shaped like cans and made from ceramic material. And ceramics can be found on every spark plug in just about every motor and engine you can find, including cars, trucks, vans and bikes.

We do like to talk about ceramics here, so if you have anything to add on the topic, please feel free to comment. We probably missed a handful of places where ceramics or ceramic materials can commonly be found in and around homes. And maybe we did that on purpose to try and stimulate some conversation here. Just to name a few and prove it, planters, paints and lighting fixtures are three other common places to find ceramics and there are far more which have yet to be named, so don’t be shy.

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Creative Inspiration From Nature

Posted by on Nov 10, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Creative Inspiration From Nature

Even while observing industrial use ceramic objects, have you ever wondered where designers and manufacturers find their inspiration to create functional materials, large and small, which you may invariably be seeing on a regular basis during your daily routine.

It is one thing to say that urban art draws its inspiration from most forms of city and cultural life. But where have the original seeds germinated?

Perhaps today’s modern architectural designs are the best examples of this. In light of the concerted drive towards environmental sustainability, the best designs are not only aesthetically pleasing to look at; they also blend in creatively and deliberately with natural surroundings, particularly the elements.

Where natural inspiration begins

owl-287019_1280If you are just starting out as a ceramic designer at home, making mainly pottery, you may be the first to admit that you will be stepping outside into your own garden to take a look around you.

Researching dozens of art books and scanning websites for functional designs and ideas is one thing, but the best source of inspiration could be found right outside your door. The next time you do step outside; don’t forget to take your sketch pad with you.

Industrial design artists are mostly seen with sophisticated digital cameras to observe, view and capture precise interpretations of their surroundings. But the creative process of settling down on your porch step or lawn chair and sketching with your own hands what you see and smell, enhances your experience as a ceramic artist and will inevitably lead to the creation of something original which has the stamp of your own personality and feelings all over it.

Natural inspiration is far beyond your walls. So, set aside a weekend and take a drive into the lush, green countryside.

Become part of nature

Apart from closely observing, touching and inhaling all of your new natural surroundings, you could take the creative process a step further by immersing yourself more in these surroundings and wholly becoming part of it. Fair to say, most great artists have done this. Nature’s flora and fauna may be wild at heart but as the designated custodian, you still have an advantage, in spite of dangers and depending on how far you are prepared to go to satiate your artistic curiosity.

Of course, you’re going to have to be well prepared, particularly during the early stages of your creative journey. Depending what role you are prepared to adopt during your excursion, you could begin by visiting websites such as these to see what you’ll need. By now, you will have already packed your sketch pad, pencils, charcoal and, indeed, your camera.

Before long, you will have enough material to keep you busy throughout the winter months. Once you’ve finished crafting your first pot, you don’t need to wait long before the next idea comes to you. It’s already there.

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Creating a Safe Environment To Work In

Posted by on Nov 9, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Creating a Safe Environment To Work In

clay-figure-198644_1280One of the first exercises you will be carrying out when setting up your first workshop to start your new pottery habit is to make your working environment as safe as possible.

This environment is usually your own private enclave in which you can place as much concentration into what you are trying to create. But in the domestic environment, this is not always easy to achieve, particularly if you have a family.

Someone is bound to invade your private space, whether to call you in for dinner, or to proudly share a piece of good news.

Safety procedures

The most important safety aspect is making sure your work room is locked tight after you have finished up for the day. Harmful toxins abound in this creative working environment. So too, some of your latest creations which need time to set. Ventilation and temperature is also important, so make sure that these factors are set to specifications. Before leaving your shed at night, make sure that all tools are cleaned and stored away. Make sure that containers of paints and lacquers are also shut tight and stored away in hard to reach places. This measure is necessary when children are part of the household.

Creating a sanitary environment

Where cleaning tools and surfaces are concerned, make sure that the basins in which you do your washing up are properly sanitized and thoroughly cleaned up after utensils are cleaned and dried. Because the emphasis is on creating a sanitary environment and creating crafted goods that are unspoiled by harmful toxins and excessive dust particles, you could give consideration to installing an industrial use water softener filter. It’s also possible to install one filter for the entire household but ideally you will be using qualified maintenance technicians for this task.

The importance of clean water

It is not immediately noticed by the naked eye but water has an important role to play in the creation of ceramic products. To counter the harmful and poisonous toxins that are used during industrial manufacturing processes, the quality of water used is vital. On the much smaller scale of your pottery workshop, this is as important. Having a water softener installed will go some way in helping to make sure that your drying articles solidify perfectly.

It will also go far in creating the ideal sanitary working environment. To reflect on just how acute the problem of impure water is, think about those old baths and basins which had grime and rust stains on them. On closer examination, you may have experienced some form of irritation during your bathing ritual. These are the telling signs of toxic, dirty water.

Good health is important too

Pottery draws on all your resources, emotionally, mentally and physically. It is therefore essential that you make sure that you are in good condition for long hours of working alone in your shed. While you are about it, don’t forget to step outside, take a break and take in a deep breath of fresh air.

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Where You Won’t Find Ceramics

Posted by on Nov 7, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering, Ceramics, Daily Activities, Knowledge | Comments Off on Where You Won’t Find Ceramics

Where You Won’t Find CeramicsWe often talk here about ceramics, their uses and the different places and machines where you might find ceramics or ceramic components. But what about places where you won’t find ceramics? Porcelain and similar materials have their uses, and they are very good for a limited number of applications. However, ceramics aren’t any kind of perfect material without flaws or problems. We have addressed some of these in the past, and you can bet that among the reasons for ceramics not showing up in some of the places we’ll outline, you’ll be seeing a few old favorites popping up once more.

For one, ceramics are awfully fragile when compared to components made from metal, or even plastic pieces in some cases. Ceramics don’t stand up to shaking, rattling and other blunt force very well, though they do make for some good body armor thanks to the way they disperse incoming energy. You won’t find ceramics in hammers, wrenches or long pole saws because they’re just too fragile for such rough usage. Designing ceramic sheets to break and reduce damage from a bullet is all good, but you wouldn’t want your tools going to pieces on you during a project, so you won’t find ceramics there.

Similarly, you won’t find ceramics in sleeping arrangements like mattresses and box springs. Mattresses have been made from all kinds of materials, from fabric and padding to simple bags stuffed full of straw or corn silk. Some box springs are even made out of cardboard in the case of very cheap bed sets. But even that cardboard will hold up to the tossing, turning and rolling of a sleeping body better than ceramics would. That would almost be like sleeping on a bed of nails after you’d chipped or cracked enough of the ceramic parts, very painful and not at all recommended.

jugs

Oddly enough, while you’ll often find ceramics in the floors of buildings or rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, ceramics tend to play a miniscule role in furniture. It’s really more for dolls and figurines rather than chairs, couches or beds, though the latter was already mentioned above. A thick piece of solid ceramic material is a ton heavier than even dense, sturdy wood, so that probably has a lot to do with this. Being fragile doesn’t matter at all if something is so heavy it’s unwieldy to move around and use in the first place, right?

Well, these are just a few of the places where you shouldn’t expect to find ceramics in any capacity. It’s not quite what we usually talk about here, but knowing where you won’t see ceramics tells you more about the material, and it’s kind of an educational experience because of that. If there’s anything we love here, it is educating people about all the different applications for ceramics and the myriad ways to use them. But it would be silly to ignore the places where they can’t be used just to make a point or push an agenda, now wouldn’t it?

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Ceramic-Based LED Lighting

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering, Knowledge | Comments Off on Ceramic-Based LED Lighting

Ceramic-Based LED LightingCeramics don’t conduct electricity like copper or gold components do, but it’s that lack of conductivity and resistance to the high temperatures which tend to come with active electrical circuits which make ceramics an excellent material to use as the base or backing for LED lighting systems. Ceramics don’t melt like plastic at higher temperatures, and they tend to be far more durable than their cheaper plastic counterparts. There is a trade-off for this boosted level of quality though, and it comes in the form of increased production costs and a different kind of fragility, though it isn’t heat, which is good.

For one, ceramics just don’t stand up to blunt force trauma or sudden, serious impacts very well. A set of ceramic LED lights falling from a ceiling some four meters to the floor below would probably be a broken, shattered mess where a system with a plastic base would have a couple of broken or loose bulbs but still work for the most part. The increase cost to manufacture ceramic systems over plastic ones means they will cost more for consumers in the store too, and the actual difference in price over cheaper plastic lighting sets is enough to push ceramic lighting out of strict, low budgets.

Compared to plastic LED lights, ceramic lights are also significantly heavier. The base material is much denser, so it only makes sense that it has more weight to it than the lighter, flimsier plastic. Barring any accident like a mount screw coming loose or the owner dropping the lights on the floor, the heavier, sturdier ceramic backing will have a longer consumer life and give you more for your dollar than the plastic LED systems. There are good and bad points about both types of LED lighting systems, but the best value will depend on what needs you’re trying to meet specifically.

If you’re looking for portability and you don’t care about the lasting power of your lights, plastic is probably a better choice for you in the long run. It’s nowhere near as heavy as ceramics in most cases, and that means you don’t need to do as much work to secure a plastic fixture before you use it, which can take a lot of time and work out of the process for you. On the other hand, ceramic LED lights are going to last longer as a given unless some accident occurs.

Consider the environment where you plan to use your LED lighting. If you’re looking at a greenhouse with LED lights specifically for growing plants, you’ll probably want to use a ceramic base because it will hold up against the intense heat better than plastic, allowing you to run your lights for longer before you need to give them some time to cool down. Last, but certainly not least, keep the price in mind. Ceramics are generally more expensive, but there can be some very costly plastic setups as well. If you do nothing else, just don’t buy the first thing you see.

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