Clay pottery has been produced for many years for use in cooking and as decorative art. Oven-baked red clay allows the artist to mold shapes, then bake the piece to harden it. This type of clay is suitable for beginning artists and potters because the molded clay hardens quickly in a home oven.
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Your working surface is important for creating red-clay art. Store-bought clay often comes in the form of a large brick, and therefore will need to be worked on a hard surface to loosen. Stone or metal counters are effective surfaces for cutting the brick of clay into smaller pieces. Smaller portions of the clay allow for easier rolling and manipulation. Working with a piece of clay increases its temperature and lessens its stiffness as a result of the warmth of your body. Gather a piece of clay that will be the approximate amount or more for the piece of art you want to create. When clay is baked, it shrinks by about 7 percent, so consider creating your artwork a little larger than your desired finished piece.
To use the final piece for food preparation, review the contents of the clay. Store-purchased red clay sometimes includes color additives that are unsafe for use in food preparation or serving. Buy a glaze for chemically enhanced clay that protects food from chemical contamination. Consider purchasing natural red clay that does not contain artificial additives when making kitchenware pottery. All clay is porous, even when it’s dry, so you may also want to glaze natural-clay pots prior to using them for food.
Mold the clay into the base shape of your desired object. For instance, if you are creating a piece of pottery with handles and striations for texture, mold the center piece first and then add the handles. Apply the handles using gentle pressure to avoid ruining the shape of the base.
Use a sharp object to create indented lines around the pot. The best way to do this is to place the base of your piece on a portion of wax or parchment paper so that you can spin and move the pot without touching it. The less you touch the pot once you create the shape, the less chance of leaving fingerprints. A toothpick works well for creating lines around your artwork without disrupting the surrounding surface.
Set molded pottery on a flat baking surface so the bottom of the piece stays flat and it stands upright without wobbling. Choose any oven-safe metal baking sheet or glass dish to hold the pot as it bakes. To avoid the moist clay from sticking to the pan as it bakes, line the baking tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Move the oven racks to one of the bottom pegs so the pot sits in the middle of the oven for even baking.
Follow the instructions on the package for baking temperatures. Clay that has all-natural additives does not require extra ventilation during baking. Bake red clay with chemically enhanced color or other chemical features in a well-ventilated area. Let the pot cool at room temperature after removing it from the oven. Extreme temperature changes can cause the baked clay to crack.