There's something that happens when you hold handmade items in your hands. It's sort of unexplainable, but you can feel the care and consideration that went into the piece. Sipping coffee from a hand-thrown mug or serving up a salad in a ceramic bowl helps to make the moment special. Behind these unique pieces, are the artisans that craft them. We want to highlight the care and consideration that is taken to create beautiful, handmade items by sharing a closer look at how and where they are made. That's what led us to the studio of Sheldon Ceramics in Downtown Los Angles, where Peter Sheldon showed us how a ball of clay is transformed into a one-of-a-kind piece of pottery.
Throwing the Clay

If you’ve ever taken a pottery class you’ll know that throwing clay is much harder than it looks. The whole foundation for a piece starts with trying to get the clay as close to center on the wheel as possible. Peter quickly steadies the clay and works it to ensure there are no air bubbles or abnormalities. From there, he shapes it into whatever he is making. Due to the fact that Sheldon Ceramics carries a set product line, Peter’s pieces have to be consistent. He measures the amount of clay and the size of each finished item to ensure they are as close to uniform as possible.

Drying and Firing

Once the pieces are off the wheel, they have to dry completely before they can be handled and fired. This process takes several days for the water to evaporate out of the clay. After they are fully dried, Peter shaves off any excess clay and creates a “foot” for some pieces. The foot is the lip on the bottom of a bowl or plate that is designed so that the piece has a sturdy base to stand on. The pieces are then put into the kiln for their first round of firing.This is when the quartz inversion occurs, which simply means that water is being removed at a molecular level - causing it to go from mud to rock.

Glazing and Finishing

Finally, it’s time for the pieces to be finished. Peter glazes each piece by dipping into a bucket of glossy liquid and leaves the pieces to dry completely. Then, they are loaded carefully into the kiln to be fired at a higher temperature. This causes the particles in the clay to weld together and melts the glaze into glass. You're able to see why ceramic pieces make for such sturdy housewares. Ceramic artists take care to ensure each piece is without flaw so that there are no cracks created in the firing process. It's amazing to hold a piece of pottery after knowing what it took to make it.


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