Omeida Chinese Academy organized a pottery making activity for our students.

What is Chinese Ceramic?

Chinese ceramic ware is an art form that has been developing since the neolithic period. There are two primary categories of Chinese ceramics, low-temperature-fired pottery or táo (陶, about 950–1200 ℃) and high-temperature-fired porcelain or cí (瓷, about 1250–1400 ℃). The history of Chinese ceramics began some eight thousand years ago with the crafting of hand-molded earthenware vessels. Soon after, in the late neolithic period, the potter’s wheel was invented facilitating the production of more uniform vessels. The sophistication of these early Chinese potters is best exemplified by the legion of terracotta warriors found in the tomb of the First Qin Emperor (r. 221–210 BC).

History of Chinese Pottery

The craft of making ceramics and clay vessels is one of the oldest human arts. Pottery is made by cooking soft clay at high temperatures until it hardens into an entirely new substance—ceramics. Early pottery vessels were used primarily for storing liquids, grains and other items. Clay pots were used for cooking and storage. Pottery from Japan dated to 10,000 B.C. is the oldest known in the world. Nine thousand year old sites in Turkey with ancient pottery have yielded mostly bowls and cups.

What is Chinese pottery made of?

To make a pottery vessel, a potter must find the right clay, and purify and cure it to make it usable. Raw clays have traditionally been put into large vats to remove foreign matter such as sand and pebbles. When clay is washed these materials settle to the bottom while the clay remains suspended and is poured off. Clay washed in this manner is known as slip. There isn’t a singular term for those who work with clay. Rather, the opposite is true. Pottery was valued in the Far East as elsewhere for its utility and relative affordability. Early on, however, the Chinese developed a heightened sense of aesthetic appreciation for ceramics that promoted the sensitivity to material, technical sophistication and stylistic range that define the classic wares of the Neolithic cultures, Bronze Age, T’ang (618-906), Sung, and Ch’in dynasties.

Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Chinese Pottery

Step 1 : Clay refining

Our suppliers offer clay in powder form. Clay powder will be mixed by a machine with proper water ratio in a barrel. Then potters knead refined clay for crafting after dried for hours.

Step 2 : Forming

Put the clay stack on the electric pottery wheel whose turning speed is adjustable. As it turns, the potter squeezes and shapes it, transforming the lump into a green ware of pot or urn. Intricate designs require more time to shape.

Step 3: Trimming and Cleaning

Trimming is an important process after completing ceramic work on the wheel. This requires sophisticated skill and aesthetics in product design.

Piercing is needed to create a drainage hole for planter bottom or handles for installation. At times, stamping may be required for OEM products for export.

Cleaning the greenware guarantees perfect glazing.

Step 4: Extruding Handles or Other Appendages

Make handles or covers for pots and urns by hand. Handles need to be installed before glazing.

Step 5: Drying

Put the greenware under the sun or in a ventilated area for drying. This is to ensure no crack and high successful output rate while firing.