Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Making pottery

This month we went to a couple of home school co-op classes where we learned about life in the Fur trading time and we learned how to make pottery like the Native Americans have for thousands of years. If was quite interesting. We didn't actually go out and dig the clay, the teacher had already done that. I guess you need to dig clay and then let it dry out and then the next step is pounding it up. That is what Aaron is shown doing above, it looks like he is working very hard. After you pound it you need to sift out the chunks. Our teacher used a wire colander and put it through that. The fine stuff that went through was then mixed with water to make a fine clay. I didn't learn about proportions so I guess I will have to guess.
Then when you work with the clay you need to mix it with some fine sand or crushed up shells to help make it so your pots won't crack. Above the kids are sifting the sand so they could get the big chunks out of it. Then we worked a little sand into our chunk of clay. To form to base of the pot you make a hollow in the ground (we were inside because of rain so we used buckets of sand to make our molds). The hollow you make is the mold for the base of the pot. Inside that form you place a thin layer of leaves.
Then you start to form your pot in that hollow. You want to be sure that the clay is even in thickness and around 1/2 in thick. You don't want any holes either. After you get the base part done then you can start adding coils to build it into your desired shape. You need to smooth out the coils so that the whole pot is smooth however. After that is all done then you can add decorations to it by engraving with a sharp stick or pressing it with other textures like the end of a bone or a stick wrapped in twine. Then let your pot dry for a week or so. At this point you need to scrape the bottom with a shell to make it even. Then let your pot dry for about another week.
Then you need to build a nice fire and let it burn down to coals and then carefully place your pot on some coals and then cover up the it up with more coals. Let it stay in there for 45 minutes (approx.) and then carefully take it out. During the firing time I guess it is common for pots with weak spots to break but it was neat because though there was a bunch of amateurs making pots at this class, none of them broke.
Here is one of our finished pots. This can be used for cooking in or eating out of. Before cooking it should be oiled, inside and out. Pottery making is quite neat, I hope to do more in the future.

1 comment:

Martha said...

wow, that's really cool. I would like to try it sometime.

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