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Methods Used in Mexican Clay Art

People from around the globe have developed their own way of forming clay to make materials for their home. Forming various shapes of clay is a lot easier when the earth is mixed with water. As shown in the various ancient techniques incorporated in Mexican pottery, the art of shaping clay is depicted as the art of creating earthenware vessels.

The Mexican Majolica

Between the 1500s and 1800s, Mexican ceramics were exported to Spain where it was considered a form of popular art. Several Spanish artists introduced the “potter’s wheel” to Mexico paving the creation of majolica. Due to ongoing trade between China and Spain, the Chinese porcelain was combined with the Mexican majolica; thus, revolutionizing the concept of clay art.

Mexican ceramics make use of clay containing iron dioxide, silicon, and other minerals. These are the components that affect the clay’s softness and manageability when shaping it. Furthermore, the minerals present in the clay can change the level of temperature at which it hardens.

It is important to note that Mexican ceramics make use of various forms of clay. Earthenware typically hardens at a lower level of temperature as compared to stoneware. Another kind of clay that reacts differently to temperature is porcelain. Early Mexican pottery was done by heating the clay under the sun or by fire. With today’s technological advancement, we are now equipped with heating devices called “kilns” which controls the firing conditions for clay art.

Methods of Forming Clay

  • By Hand

In the process of creating Mexican ceramics, clay is shaped through various ways. The most traditional and common way is forming it by hand. People start with a ball of clay, pressing it while giving it shape. There are times when they make use of long thin rolls of clay, placing them on top of each other, and making them smooth.

  • Slab-construction

The slab-construction is another popular method used in creating Mexican ceramics. In this method, flat portions of clay are combined to make the sides of a Mexican pot.

  • Wheel Throwing

“Throwing” clay on the wheel is a method where a ball of clay is placed flat on the wheel device. The potter turns it quickly while guiding the clay into its shape. With the various combination of upward and downward pressures, a potter can build the pot’s sides. This method can allow easy reproduction and replication of Mexican pots. However, it takes a significant amount of skill to master the wheel throwing method fully.

  • Slip Casting

When performing the slip casting method, liquid is poured by the ceramist into a hard mold. Eventually, it will take the shape of the form as the clay dries. Slip casting is a method commonly used by ceramists and potters who are creating a very detailed output.

Consequently, various designs are incorporated into Mexican ceramics. It can be as complex as having to use liquid glazes to change the clay’s shininess and surface color. By using the images depicted in their ceramics, one can truly say that the history of Mexican culture takes pride in their clay art.

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