Ceramics

Hazards in dealing with ceramics

Posted by on Nov 1, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering, Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Hazards in dealing with ceramics

While pottery is considerably less harmful when compared to other workplaces, some of the materials used in pottery can cause illness and hazards. Knowing about such materials will help you avoid them and make your workplace safe, especially if kids are involved in the ceramic creation.

Children have for a long time safely played with clay and made beautiful things out of clay, but this has been possible because of handling the involved materials with common sense and respect.  Here are some of the hazards associated with ceramic pot creation

Lead poisoning

Lead is a very dangerous material, especially when ingested or breathed in. It is released from firing into air, when painting or glazing is done on the ceramic. Using a ceramic pot or mug glazed with lead in it can be toxic. Although most of the ceramics used now do not contain lead, sometimes the lead may be added accidentally which can lead to serious effects.

The lead in the glaze is absorbed by any drink or food that is acidic. Coffee or tea cups and serving dishes are mostly made of ceramic. These look beautiful and are preferred by all in both cold and hot weather.

Lead is used in such utensils because it helps to speed up the melting of the glaze, so any color can be added easily. If you are buying ceramic items while on a vacation abroad, make sure you test for lead. The test kits are inexpensive and purchased easily.

While ceramics are used in almost all spheres of life from simple household pottery to highly advanced space technology there hasn’t been much research on the hazards they produce. Even modern day mountain skis have ceramic in them to enable better safety and performance. Choosing an efficient Mountain Ski, helps to have a better experience on the slopes.

Ceramic paint

White color paint had lead carbonate in it earlier. Lead oxide was used to add red color. This paint when it is washed down by rain can contaminate soil and cause harm to children affecting their intelligence and also cause other dangerous symptoms.

Materials to be used with caution

The following materials are hazardous and should be used with care. Inhaling the fumes or ingesting them should be avoided.  While the materials do not generally produce any hazards when fired properly in glazes, you still need to be careful while using them.

Borax, cadmium, beryllium, cobalt, selenium, chromium, copper, potassium, nickel, zinc, vanadium and potassium dichromate are the materials to be used with care.

Toxins formed during firing

Materials such as chlorides, fluorides, sulfides, and carbonates can form toxic fumes when they are fired. Impure clay, fluorspars, gypsum, cryolite, crude feldspars and a few other materials have the above materials.

The ball clay commonly used in pottery contains dioxin, which releases fumes on firing. These get deposited in blood and causes serious problems. Dioxin inhalation occurs when people fire ceramic pieces in their home basement in kilns, which are not vented. Knowing the materials, and processes that release the toxins, help in taking proper precautions such as wearing protective gear, using right equipment and a proper studio for the ceramic creation.

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Ceramics and Wood

Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in Ceramics | Comments Off on Ceramics and Wood

At a glance, they might not appear to be two materials which could be combined to make something useful. Ceramics are generally fragile and prone to chipping, while wood is one of the most flammable things in the world and sometimes difficult to work with due to its density, as in the case of ebony wood. However, it’s possible to not only craft these two materials together, but also to get something of utility from the process. For a few minutes, let’s take a closer look at ceramics and wood, along with what can be made from these two things.

Have you ever heard of ceramic spoons? You can find different varieties of these if you really look. For instance, Chinese soup spoons are rather large spoons made entirely from ceramic ingredients, sometimes with rice fired in the mold to lend decoration to the item. In Europe and much of the Western world, ceramic spoons still come with ceramic bowls at the end of the handle, but the handles are actually made from some sort of durable, dense wood instead. They look a fair bit different, but it doesn’t do much to make them less fragile. Sometimes they are called bread spoons too.

It might seem counter intuitive to the flammable nature of wood, but the material can be combined with a ceramic cup shape to create a candleholder or candle stand if you prefer. The ceramic nub attached to the block of wood prevents the fire from ever touching it, so the whole wood burning thing isn’t such an issue. You can find good examples of these online with ease. Cutting the wooden bases from whole logs would be easy enough with a splitter to break the wood first. It may not be practical, but you can look at http://logsplitterpro.com/ to see more about these devices.

Because they break the wooden log into halves and can then further break those halves into smaller sections, log splitters are excellent for anyone who needs to process a great deal of wood quickly. You could even use one to cut a whole log into circles or discs rather than just splitting the thing right up the middle. A high quality gas log splitter would do the job as well as an electric model, though you could probably skip such devices and do the chopping yourself if you have a nice axe, saw and sander to work with.

As for other crafts which combine wood and ceramics, the list isn’t finished yet. One thing which hasn’t been covered yet though is how using wood as the fuel source when firing ceramics produces some high quality work just waiting to be finished. Also, it’s a bit less common in art, but there is a specific technique called trompe l’oeil which creates illusory 3D effects using different materials, often a combination of ceramic and wood parts to make the final piece. It’s kind of fascinating how many different ways ceramics and wood can be combined together to make something unique and new.

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The Challenge of Mixing Wood with Ceramics

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on The Challenge of Mixing Wood with Ceramics

The Challenge of Mixing Wood with Ceramics

Ceramics and wood have a number of things in common. For starters, they have been gifted to humanity to use as they see fit. Fortunately, ceramic materials and wood cuts have been put to good use. At a glance, it may not be possible to appreciate all the inherent benefits of materials which have its origins in the earth. But do not be overwhelmed by such abundance. Simply breath in, pause for thought and take a long, slow look at your surroundings, whether you are indoors, standing in your kitchen or living room, in the classroom, on the factory floor or in your office cubicle.

Standing the test of time

After just a couple of minutes you will soon notice the positive impact wood and ceramics has had on your life. For most people, home is the center of their universe. Taking that into account, the observant eye notices how many American homes are still being built with wood, even in part. Also, no kitchen or bathroom is complete without its tiles which provide functional benefits beyond being pleasing to look at.

Where aesthetics is concerned, the use of ceramics and wood has been dominant throughout human history. Today, we do not even need to look beyond our own backyard to marvel at the natural beauty of its trees, even when bare during winter. One soon begins to appreciate that in spite of both the forces of nature and man’s own penchant for destroying things of beauty over and above creating it, wood can and has stood the test of time.

Art history

So too, ceramics. Ask anyone who has been abroad to parts of Europe or the Indian sub-continent, and one of the first things they will gush about is the awesome magnitude of both Roman and Greek architecture as well as the unsullied splendor of the Taj Mahal. And what is not seen in reality is visualized through literary interpretations rather than what is conventionally shown through camera lenses. One of the best examples of how the world of ceramics and wood converge can be found through the rudimentary Biblical descriptions of the creation of Solomon’s temple where cedar wood and marble (or plaster) were used abundantly.

On a much smaller but no less noble scale, finding the inspiration to do wonderful things with wood-cuts and ceramic tiles is not difficult for some. But for the rest, it could be challenging. Take heart that persistence and subsequently, invention will yield the desired results, whether building a new kitchen surface or working on a wall mural. If you are a beginner, also make an effort to source the right tools, such as the perfect kiln for sculpting effects and using a resourceful wood router ideally suited for beginners.

Create something new today

Whether you are a practiced artisan or beginner, there is no shortage of literature and guides on how to use tools practically and purposefully to overcome the challenge of creating something marvelous out of both ceramics and wood.

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The Ceramic World’s Future is Sealed

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on The Ceramic World’s Future is Sealed

The Ceramic World’s Future is Sealed

Think about it, since man first discovered fire and how to use it, ceramics, one way or another has been with humankind from the beginning. It has mainly been used for everyday functions such as building a fire in a clay oven and sealing clay walls decoratively, not just for warmth and comfort. Since its benefits were first discovered and appreciated, art works have always added a little extra pleasure to people’s lives. When people think of ceramic use today, they invariably cast their mind’s eye to the inherent decorative effects.

Ceramics as an environmentally sustainable agent

It is heartening to know that the world of ceramics is safe. When considering how humankind has taken advantage of and excelled in the industrial use of ceramics, one can only wonder with awe how ceramics will be applied in the future. The next Congress of the Parties (the twenty-first edition of this global gathering) is diarized for December later this year and will be held in Paris. Thinking about the bartering and horse trading that is likely to take place, one has to also think about how global warming and climate change, for better or worse, has impacted human lives.

Thinking positively, the phenomena associated with global weather patterns continues to influence people to do something productive and meaningful with their lives before it is all too late. The use of ceramics, it should come as no surprise, has made valuable contributions towards creating a world which is sustainable not just for humans but for all creation, flora and fauna.

Ceramics as an agent of preservation

Ceramics as an agent of preservationTo this end, apart from creating new job opportunities for hundreds of previously impoverished communities, the influence of ceramics can be seen and felt in solar panels and windmills. Also, its use in the creation of more cost-efficient and environmentally sound hybrid electric powered motor cars may be increased exponentially as demand grows. Not to take the eye off the barometer, the simple pleasure of creating artworks, such as sculpting pots, also adds to the pool of job opportunities for those who still struggle to make ends meet.

Still on the subject of environmental sustainability which provokes everyone to make meaningful savings across the board, whether at home or in the workplace (particularly where food is concerned), also think about how necessary the use of functional vacuum sealers has become. The caveat has always been preservation. Do not for a moment think that it is only food that is being preserved for much longer. Carbon-efficient products are also used to conserve in other areas too, much like the right set of tiles responding to UV rays and temperature, and consequently saving on energy use.

The aesthetics of ceramics

In order to truly appreciate the world of ceramics, why not visit a clay manufacturer, arts and crafts retailer or gallery and pore over a variety of creations? Take a moment to reflect on how meaningful and purposeful ceramics remains in everyday life.

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How to Make Money From Your Pottery Studio

Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on How to Make Money From Your Pottery Studio

How to Make Money From Your Pottery Studio

While many people are of the opinion that it is not possible to make much money from a pottery studio, when you organize the studio well and use your time efficiently, it is possible to be more productive and reap considerable profits from the venture.

Time is precious commodity and more so in case of labour-intensive activities such as pottery. In pottery, direct labour is involved to create the ceramic pottery you put up for sale. Handmade pottery is a craft that needs physical attention of the potter all through the different stages of the work. From forming and trimming to dying, bisque firing and glazing there are several stages all of which need meticulous attention to detail, for the work to turn out exquisite and unique.

And the labour involved does not end up with the creative work. You also need to consider the management part such as clean-up of the studio, ordering new materials, packaging the finished product etc. And there is some amount of indirect labour required too such as the marketing and sales of the product. Thus, the number of hours you put in can add up to a large one, if you want to design and sell your pottery on your own.

Material cost

The actual costs in pottery include the cost of the different types of clays, equipment, glaze materials etc., which are minimal when you compare the labour and time, needed to create the finished work. Whether you are using a potter’s wheel or use slip cast, hand built or pressed methods, labour takes up most of the expense involved. Therefore, a potter should always try to bring down the labour cost, if he wants to increase his profits. And in most cases there will be other elements that save you the overall costs, so considering all of them will help in a drastic cost reduction and increased profits.

Workspace

The area where the pottery is created is the place where most of the potter’s time is used up. So paying more attention to this workspace is crucial. The equipment, working table and storage area needs to be designed efficiently. The wooden shelves and working table need to be designed with care. Nowadays use of efficient tools such as the OSCILLATING TOOL helps in making the work quickly done and precisely too. Studio furniture especially the wedging table should be placed close the wheel to save time taken by the potter.  Storage containers, glaze buckets etc. when placed on wheels provides more space and flexibility. Inflexible equipment or supplies can be a bane on the productivity of a studio hence such measures need to be considered to make the manual labour-intensive operations more successful.

Working with Clay

Knowing how the clay will make its transformation from moist stage to the finished and packaged product helps you to design the studio in a better way. With the necessary information, you can reap profits even from a small studio. For instance, clay delivery should be made near the storage space, which needs to be near wedging table. The table needs to be near the potters’ wheel and other important equipment.

While the quality of the pottery is significant, it is not the sole factor determining the profits. Effective placement of supplies, equipment and management help in making the entire venture highly productive.

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Cutting Your Own Tiles

Posted by on Sep 25, 2015 in Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Cutting Your Own Tiles

Cutting Your Own Tiles

Installing tile floors can be very expensive. Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom, kitchen or washroom, tiles tend to make some of the best floors in places where water reaching the floor is a regular issue. This is why you don’t tend to see many bathrooms with carpeting. Getting back to the tile though, it can sometimes be very expensive, with prices in the $10 + range per square foot. It all depends on the material in the tile – or at least that’s what manufacturers would have you believe. Ceramic tiles, which are some of the best, can also be some of the cheapest if you cut your own.

To begin, you’ll first want to get your hands on some ceramic sheets. These aren’t sheets like you might put on a bed or the back of a chair though – they are flat panels made of ceramic material, more akin to drywall than a bed sheet. These ceramic sheets can be purchased at most home improvement stores and easily found online as well, so locating them shouldn’t be a problem. The real issue is cutting tiles from those sheets once you have them. You need a tool which is both powerful but gentle, something which can make the cuts without destroying the materials.

Cutting Your Own TilesThis is where a reciprocating saw comes into the equation. If you don’t know what those are, you can always see examples here to get a better idea what sort of tool you’ll need. While they were designed specifically for quick cuts that don’t need to look very good, nobody would leave a sawed surface without sanding it clean and flat if they wanted the job to be done well in the first place anyhow. This saw will cut the ceramic sheet into whatever sized squares (or other shapes) you might need. But that’s not the end of the project.

What good is a tile floor with cracks, or jagged bits that might cut your feet when you walk on it? Well it’s not good for much, anyhow. But sanding was already mentioned. Additionally, you’ll need to prepare a grout mixture to keep tiles flat and even on the floor once you put them down. If you’re working in an area where old tile needs to be removed, you’ll probably need to scrape up plenty of existing grout under the current floor before you can put down new tiles. This will allow for the best possible adhesion to the floor surface.

With the tiles cut, sanded and set, you only have one decision left to make. Most ceramic sheets are flat, sure, but they’re not exactly smooth on the surface. This is excellent for the side being fastened to the floor, since that rough surface makes for a great bond. But do you want the upper surface, the one you’ll be walking on, to be rough as well? It could be a good choice if you don’t want to risk slipping on wet tiles. It’s really just a matter of preference though.

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