Daily Activities

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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Cooling off After Ceramics

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Daily Activities | Comments Off on Cooling off After Ceramics

Cooling off After Ceramics

Ceramics, both making them and marketing them, can be an exciting and entertaining prospect. They pose both an excellent way to improve one’s manual dexterity as well as a means to open up one’s artistic side and let it show. However, ceramics are complicated too, involving many delicate motions and movements of the hands, unless you’re doing something super simple like punching a dent in a lump of clay and calling it an ashtray. There’s the heat too, at least if you glaze and fire your own work when you’re done with the molding. Thankfully, you can cool off after ceramics with far less effort and precision.

Some people like a swim after doing something stressful, or going for a run. In this case, I’m talking about taking out your frustrations and other negative feelings on a BJJ DUMMY, or any other kind of combat dummy for that matter. Did your latest project not go so well? Maybe you miscalculated the firing temperature and destroyed a piece of art by cooking it too hot, or for too long. Whatever has you upset, once you’re done with your ceramics and you’ve cleaned up, you can punch, kick, elbow and otherwise abuse your training dummy – and it will never say a thing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Is this really a good idea? Shouldn’t you figure out what went wrong and learn how to fix it for next time, rather than just blowing off steam? I say, it’s important to get a clear head before you try to do any critical thinking, and this is probably the best way around for doing that. It’s quick, it’s easy and perhaps most important of all, nobody gets hurt – except for you, if you happen to be a little overzealous. Fortunately, these training dummies are useful for much more than just getting rid of excess anger.

Cooling off After CeramicsYou might not be a very physical person, but dummies like the ones mentioned so far are great training aids for those looking to learn how to fight, and that’s just one other use for them. Once you’re done working out your mind by trying to create something unique and special, you owe it to yourself to work out your body too. I mentioned one reason you might want to do this, but even if you aren’t upset or angry, you can still benefit from beating on a training dummy. They are very useful constructs, to be sure.

However you look at it, this is a great way to cool off after working with ceramics. It’s just plain old healthy too, both for getting out your grievances and giving your muscles a little workout as well. If you’re sick, or frail, or you can’t do this for some other reason, then that’s fine; everyone else might want to look into picking up a dummy though. You never know when life will throw you for a spin and get you all riled up, so they’re useful to have around even when you aren’t doing your ceramic work.

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Making a Ceramic Piano

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Daily Activities | Comments Off on Making a Ceramic Piano

Making a Ceramic Piano

Ceramics are not the only outlet for creativity in my life. I also love music, and I sometimes like to play music on my Yamaha YDP 181 digital piano. Recently, my piano playing intersected with my work with ceramics after I came across some beautiful green ware of a piano for sale at a shop that actually specializes in doll making. As pretty as its design was, I decided against using the green ware. Instead, I decided to use it as inspiration to sculpt my own piano so that it was one of the kind and exactly the size and look that I wanted. I was worried about the design being too blocky, so I really took my time with it. Instead of a digital piano or even an upright piano, I managed to make myself a pretty little baby grand. I have detailed that process in other posts, so I won’t go into any of the detail here, but will just say that I always find it enjoyable to work in clay.

The next stage in the process was allowing it to dry, which is only a matter of waiting. Then, comes the first firing in the kiln. This is the most nerve wracking part of the whole process for me, and I am always a little scared to look into the kiln after the first firing has cooled in case something has broken or cracked in the process. It is always such a shame when that happens. Everything went just fine this time though, thank goodness.

Ceramic PianoAfter the first firing in the kiln, I realized that painting a ceramic piano can be a bit of a challenge. For one thing, I don’t use black often in my work, but I decided that I did want to paint some of the keys black. This meant that I had to find a recipe for black glaze. Also, I had to decide on the color I wanted the main body of the piano to be. I realize that most real pianos are either black or brown, but I allowed myself a little creative license and painted my ceramic version in green.

After the glaze firing, I opened up the kiln and saw how the little piano looked for the first time. I say this because anyone who has ever done ceramics knows that the colors before firing always look different than afterward (sometimes significantly so). And, I was a little bit nervous about the black. There was no need to be because it turned out beautifully. I really love the colors, and I think it is such an unusual little piece. It’s not often you find a ceramic piano after all.

I have decided that I like it so much I will put it on display on the top of my real digital piano since I think that will be an appropriate home for it. I am happy that I tried making a piece that is a little outside of my comfort level, and I hope inspiration strikes again soon.

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The Process of Making Ceramic Shoes

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Daily Activities, Pottery Decoration | Comments Off on The Process of Making Ceramic Shoes

The Process of Making Ceramic Shoes

Browsing through antique collector’s items always makes me nostalgic. The intricate designs and clever workmanship of the items leaves me stunned, especially, when I see the ceramic items. Ceramic is one of the most earliest forms used by humans and it still holds its allure in this technologically driven world.

I came upon a ceramic shoe in the shop and it caught my attention. The shoe looked real and very appealing. The out of box thinking in the creation had me wondering about the making. This spurred me on to know more about how these shoes are made. And I even tried them myself. I used Athletic Crossfit shoes as model for the ceramic shoes.

To start with, you need to create paper templates of all the parts of the shoe like the tongue, heel, sides, toe, sole etc. This will help in creating an exact replica of the shoe you use as model.

The creative process

You need to have the necessary tools ready at hand, before you start on the ceramic work. Scissors, rolling pin, slab roller, wooden tools, a clay cutting knife, sponge, pin tool, flexible rib and a miter tool or one with 45 degree bevel are needed.

•             Now start with a ball of clay. The clay needs to be rolled into a consistently thick slab using the roller.

•             Using the templates you have made, cut the shapes in the slab and store them in plastic wraps.

•             When the cut pieces of clay are stiff, but flexible enough to mold or in other words leather hard, you can start making the form of the shoe.

•             A process called score and slip is used. The areas that are to be fused should be scratched and with a bit of slip, which is actually clay of watery consistency, glued together so the individual parts are held tight.

•             The seams should be smoothed to get a good finish. Adding details when the clay is soft will give the shoe a more authentic and beautiful look.

Firing the shoe

Once the shoe is created with all find details included in it, it should be allowed to dry in a covered plastic bag with a small hole for air to circulate and dry it. This takes several days and when the shoe is fully dry (it is called Bone dry) it is bisque fired to get the water out completely and also to give it a solid shape.

When the shoe makes it out of the firing step intact without any blow-up, crack or breaks, you can add the regular or underglaze to give the required color. Once this is done the shoe is returned to the kiln to go through a second firing step, which is called glaze firing. Now it gets the final glossy and shiny look.

If you are wondering about the uses of the shoe, it can be used as planter, container, for holding a wine bottle, with a lamp as lighter or even as just a decorative piece in your living room shelf.

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Crafting a Beautiful Woman Face

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Daily Activities, Knowledge | Comments Off on Crafting a Beautiful Woman Face

Crafting a Beautiful Woman Face

At a party recently, knowing about my interest in sculpting, a client approached me with her wish to sculpt a clay model of her face. Seeing her eagerness for the clay model, I accepted. It is extremely satisfying to work on clay and I feel a strong sense of connection all of which made me involve enthusiastically in the project.

We set up a date and time, and to her credit she arrived on time. I had all the material ready and started on the work.  With my hands in the clay, I think back on the way I’d learnt the sculpting a few years back. The face sculpting drew me because of my interest in the human anatomy. The lines and angles of the face are so intricate that it requires great skill to replicate them. I’d had a great time learning the sculpting and it was lot of fun too.

Coming back to the present, the client had a beautiful face with sharp features and a slender neck. Her trim and fit body had me asking her about how she keeps it in shape. She replied, ‘I go to gym regularly. And I also never forget my keen protein powder’. Now that I had her secret, I’d surely spread word around about it.

The sculpting soon got completed. She was awed at the finished work and praised the end work a lot. Sculpting is not a backbreaking procedure. You will do it with elegance when you know the process completely and have a good amount of practice, which is the fun part actually. Here are the steps involved.

•             You need a ball of clay, garlic press and sculpting tools to start

•             Roll the ball of clay into an oval shape. The shape depends on the face you want to sculpt. A smooth and definite shape will make the other steps easier.

•             Now separate the face into sections with a rubber ended tool. For symmetry, draw a vertical line in the middle and a horizontal line at the eye level, one at the bottom of nose and another at the mouth level.

•             Slope the neck part out, so the face can sit comfortably on a table while working.

•             Using the knife, cut on the clay until you get the desired form.

•             The excess clay can be used for making the form of mouth, nose and ears.

•             Smooth the features so they fuse well together.

•             For the hair use the garlic press and make clay hair. For long hair, you need to use extra clay. Place the hair on the head. The head can be left as such without the hair too.

•             Leave the face to dry till it is hard and unpliable.

Painting the head

Once the clay has hardened, you can paint it and add your own creative touches. Now leave some time for it to dry and coat a solution of water and glue to protect the paint. You face is ready. It is also possible to create sad, happy, funny and any other expression you want. A little knowledge about the face structure, basic sculpting technique and a lot of enthusiasm are all that you need to get it right.

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