Whenever decorating your home and garden, one of the best things to do first is to layout the main focal areas that the eye will draw to first. Focal points can be anything from statues, fountains, structures or even pottery, and act like that finishing bow on a present. By having designated areas of interest, it’s easier to expand from that area and create a visual harmony in your landscaping design. Pottery is a cost effective, functional, and aesthetically beautiful way to accent any interior or backyard décor. What makes pottery so ideal is the durability, color variations, size versatility and the low maintenance. Because pottery is made from natural elements, it’s also an eco-friendly choice just like bamboo.
Before diving into selecting which pottery is best for you, here is some information on where clay comes from, how it is formed, and what types of clay make up the various types of pottery that you see.
Clay, made from minerals, sediment, animals, plant life, and other ingredients of the soil, is found in the ground usually locative to areas surrounding running water such as rivers and banks, or where water once was. Water pressure, over time breaks up and compresses these ingredients into fine particles. The filtration process between rocks and sand removes larger particles and leaves what is called “silt” which then settles into beds of clay. The purity and distance this silt travels from its source is what determines what type of clay it becomes.
There are three most commonly used type of clay: Earthenware, Stoneware and Kaolin.
Earthenware: also known as “common clay” is a type of clay that has travelled along the river banks and has picked up other minerals and sediments along the way, before settling. After firing, it is still porous clay and without glazing is either white or gray. Frequent seen usage of Earthenware includes Terra Cotta and roof tiling.
Stoneware: is one of the most dense, hard and durable clays. Natural colors can vary from a light/dark gray, tan, or a chocolate brown. Stoneware in older times was used for jugs and crocks, but is now mainly used for dishware.
Kaolin: also known as China Clay is considered a primary clay due to that it’s found in close vicinities to its source (less distance traveled). Kaolin is the main ingredient in making porcelain. The particle size to Kaolin is larger than most clay which gives it very little elasticity. When Kaolin is in its unfired state, rather than bending, it tears, and needs a very high firing heat. Once fired, Kaolin is very smooth and semi transparent, because of this, glazing is unnecessary.
When choosing which type of pottery to purchase, you should first establish what its function is going to be. If you wish to use it as a planter, some of the things to take into consideration is how porous the pot is, the depth for root room for your plant, will this pot contain soil, and the weight. Certain pots respond to constant moisture better than others depending on the type of clay it was built from, and the glaze. For fountains, a pot’s surface is important to how the water will travel and reflect light off the surface. Pots with textured surfaces will look different than pots with smooth surfaces under running water. For fountain pottery, you also want to inspect the pot for cracks, surface irregularities, and porosity so that water does not leak or slowly absorb into the clay over time, which could ruin your pot.
Whether for indoor or outdoor décor, pottery provides a durable, unique, and aesthetically stimulating addition to any environment. The functionality and decorative possibilities are endless.