submitted by Gail Fryer
Have you always wanted to make holiday figurines? Like Christmas trees and ornaments? Easter bunnies? Yard ornaments? Want to restore a favorite piece of ceramics? The Ceramics Class is just for you. There are daytime and evening classes in the Activity Center where you learn the fundamentals from an experienced instructor (Jackie Loftus).
Basically, each student chooses a piece of pre-formed green ware as a project and the whole process from beginning to finished treasure is carefully guided by the instructor. First, the green ware is cleaned with a special cleaning tool and wiped down with a damp sponge several times. The piece might also need to be sanded lightly. The piece is then fired in the kiln (a special oven exceeding 1000 degrees centigrade). La Casa is fortunate to have a special room with 3 kilns in it.
The first firing is called the ‘bisque’ and is done so that the ware has enough strength for handling and can be dipped into a glaze safely. The bisque is painted with acrylic paints, under-glazes or glazes. Glazes are suspensions, not solutions. They consist of powdered clay to form a gel mixed with powdered minerals like feldspar, quartz, dolomite and calcium carbonate. If under-glazes or glazes are used, the piece gets a second firing called the ‘glaze firing.’ This is often repeated several times before the project is complete.
When students finish a project they are always eager to start another one. And, since so many of our residents are grandparents, every grandchild needs his or her own special piece of ceramics! Students also learn from each other, have a good time, and proudly display their finished projects at each year’s EXPO (held in January).