From the beginning; the clay comes in boxes of 50 lbs and inside the box is two 25 lbs bags. From those bags prepare the clay by wedging it, weighing it and making balls that will eventually turn into mugs, bowls, etc.
I take those balls of clay and throw them on the wheel, literally and figuratively. The term throwing came from having to throw the clay onto the wheel in order for it to stick, but now it has more meaning then just that to a potter. Throwing is the act of making anything on the wheel.
From that point I will let the piece dry for a one-two days to get what us potters call “leather hard”, meaning it’s dry enough to handle but wet enough to still work on. Mugs will get handles and stamps or be carved, and bowls will be trimmed. Trimming is when the piece goes on the wheel upside down and I use tools to trim away the unneeded extra clay at the bottom on the piece.
Now I wait until the thrown pieces are bone dry, that is when there is no moister left in the clay, at this stage is is called “greenware”.
Now that all the pieces are bone dry it is time for them to go into the kiln for the first time. They are fired up too around 1950 degrees fahrenheit, this makes them durable, but not yet water resistant in this stage, it is called “bisqueware”.
Now is the time I get to paint the Glazes on. This can be a lengthy time consuming process, but it is worth every minute. Once I have enough glazed pieces of bisqueware I load up a glaze kiln, where the mugs are fired to around 2220 degrees. In this firing the glaze becomes glass and the clay become water resistant.
After about 6.5 hrs of firing time and 8-10 hrs of cooling time I can finally open the kiln and see what magic occurred!