Archaeologists have allowed us to learn much about ancient cultures, uncovering stone weapons and clay mugs that say "World's Greatest Roman." Create your own artifacts with this Groupon.
- $150 for a ceramic party package for six people ($300 value)
Before each party, an artisan delivers a bundle or art supplies to the location of your choice. It includes six medium-sized ceramics, along with paint, brushes, aprons, bowls, and finishing spray. Afterward, the artisan returns to collect the supplies. She will also pick up ceramic pieces to be fired and return them in 5–10 business days.
Ceramics: The Clay’s the Thing
There's a reason ceramics have been around since the Paleolithic Period. Check out our study of the subject to fire up your appreciation for this millennia-old art form.
No matter how delicate or ornate, all ceramics come from the same stuff: highly refined dirt. Like all clay, the clay used in ceramics is essentially waterlogged soil made of mineral particles, which bond on a molecular level when baked at a certain temperature. The practice of ceramics is the art of turning this raw material into an array of pieces, sometimes with the most basic tools: two hands and some clay are all one needs to shape a pinch pot or simple figurine. Whether molded with fingers alone (called handbuilding) or shaped on a potter’s wheel to create round forms (called throwing), each piece is bisque fired—a relatively low-temperature turn in the kiln that leaves the clay dry and rigid but not quite finished. Paint-your-own-pottery studios perform all the steps up to this point, then let customers coat pots, tableware, or statuettes in colorful glazes and glossy finishes. After a final firing, the work is complete—each piece part of a 27,000-year-old tradition.
Every ceramic piece undergoes shaping and firing, but the applications of the craft have varied from the fragile beauty of dynastic Chinese porcelain to insulation for space-shuttle components. Its vast range of applications can be credited to the material's more unusual features: though brittle, ceramic is harder than most common metals, and a ceramic knife will hold an edge far longer than a steel one. Beyond these practical advantages, ceramics also remains a part of the fine arts, and is included in modern pieces such as the playfully disturbing works of Grayson Perry, which blend satire of consumer culture with ancient forms.