FPA: Developments in Ceramics

November 3, 2015   Chanco Bulletin
Mtamandeni Judah Mtambalika - Head of the Fine Art

A visit to the Fine Art section at Chancellor College indicates some of the advances that have been made, particularly in the area of ceramics.

Mtamandeni Judah Mtambalika, the Head of the Fine Art Section, explains the difference between studio ceramics from industrial ceramics. Studio ceramics tend to be true expressions of the artist’s creativity. It is often done by individuals on a small scale, usually within private spaces. It is not driven by commercial influences

Industrial ceramics, on the other hand, is usually mass produced, and often involves machinery. It usually serves the commercial market, and can thus be commissioned by various companies and organisations.

According to Mtambalika, students at Chancellor College tend to favor industrial ceramics, although they also produce some truly creative pieces. 

In commencing the work, the fine artists use a combination of clay and feldspar, quartz, or silica sand, to which water is applied to make it malleable. This is used for a standard clay body.

The artist then ‘wedges’ the clay body, ensuring that there are no air bubbles within the clay.

The next step involves the potter’s wheel, on which he ‘throws’ his clay in order to begin work. This can take about 15 to 20 minutes, when the artist creates his basic form.

The potter’s wheel helps in making a basic cylindrical shape, which acts as the base for other artworks. When finished, the artist proceeds to dry his artwork, and then subjects it to biscuit firing in the kiln. This makes the clay more durable and removes porosity. Many earthen flowerpots are products of this process. 

Depending on the final use of the artwork, glaze coating can be applied. This is usually the case with coffee mugs and teapots. 

Ceramic pieces by both staff and students are currently on sale in the Fine and performing Arts department.

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