Pottery La Pipe d'Argile


CLAY

Clay is a verry common, abundant and inexpensive material. It is easy to extract and does not require significant transformation, unlike the majority of materials used to manufacture usual goods.

Clay is also a capricious material with very variable physical properties. Certain clays are well suited for a given use and are completely unusable for others.
Clay shrinks during drying and firing, and this creates many problems for the potter. It is know-how, rather than science, that allows the solution of these problems. Why does pottery shrink? Why do certain clays shrink more then others? Why do certain pieces crack during cooling? The potter has to understand the fundamental laws obeyed by the matter he employs!

Clay is one of the rare matters without intrinsic value, but convertible into valuable objects. Naturally, clay imposes some limits to the potter. Very thin pieces are inadvisable because of the fragility of fired clay, as well as eccentric shapes which would collapse before they could be completed. But within these limits, the potter is free to express his creativity, and the shapes of pottery are characterized by a great freedom of expression and an astonishing variety.

The value of pottery exeeds its utility and its beauty. Through pottery, we renew contact with the traditions and the culture of the oldest civilizations. It symbolizes in a concrete way some of the most fundamental human activities.

Ceramics not only includes pottery but all clay-based products like glass, bricks, tiles, insulators, cements, plasters, limes and vitreous enamels for metal. These industries represent a significant and essential part of our economic activity. Ceramics, which was one of the first utilitarian arts invented by man, is still one of its main activity today.


[Geological origins of clay]


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