Last Saturday, Omeida Chinese Academy went to a Chinese pottery making class. Since pre-dynastic times, Chinese ceramics show continuous development and is one of the most significant forms of Chinese art globally. Increasingly over its long history, Chinese ceramics can be classified between those that are made for the imperial court, either to use or distribute, those made for a discriminating Chinese market and those made for the popular Chinese markets or for export. Some types of ceramics were also made exclusively or mainly for special uses, such as burial in tombs or for use on altars.
From making simple hand built coil pots to experimenting with complex glazes and firing methods — it’s up to you how complicated you want your pottery interest to become. If you are just starting out, it’s a good idea to get a taste of what pottery is all about by joining up to a beginner’s class, or you could just start slow and experiment at home with some basic kit.
For most of our students, this is their first time to experience pottery making. The clay is briefly “wedged” by hand to establish a consistency within the raw materials and to align the clay particles and remove any air left over from the pugging process. Clay is never boring; there is always more to explore, more to try out and more to create. Be prepared for a fine adventure as you enter the world of pottery, for clay is as deep and as broad as the earth it comes from.
Essential requirements to prepare for pottery making:
- Floors impervious to water and easy to clean, such as concrete or linoleum
- Access to water (but no clay should go down any drains!)
- A sturdy table, such as a kitchen table
- A clay-won’t-stick-to-it surface to work on (see below)
- Sturdy shelving for drying pots
- A cabinet or other storage area for glazes, where pets and children cannot get to it
Making a pot is fascinating to watch and seemingly effortless, but anyone who has had a go will know that it is much, much harder than it looks! The Chinese pottery making technique has been passed on to new students through five generations of master potters, making its form powerful and energetic, intertwined with the memories of previous teachers.
First the ball of clay is centred on the wheel-head, a process that requires strength and force as a single pot can weigh up to sixty pounds. The clay is then ‘pulled’ up in three movements to a marker stick.
Chinese pottery making is one of the most ancient art forms on the planet. Producing ceramic pieces can be highly enjoyable and it gives a chance to express ourselves creatively. It can reduce stress and can be very therapeutic, thus becoming a healthy outlet. It comes to no surprise that many people, including myself, find working with clay a much needed hobby.
Would you like to join in the fun at Omeida Academy in Yangshuo? Would you like to learn Chinese? If so, check out the range of options available on the website here.