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Reviewed November 5, 2015
What You'll Get
- $75 for a ceramic-painting birthday-party package for 10 kids ($150 value)
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.
The Fine Print
Promotional value expires 180 days after purchase. Amount paid never expires. May be repurchased every 120 days. Limit 1 per person, may buy 1 additional as gift. Limit 1 per visit. Appointment required. Only valid 10 miles from 92008. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.