Ceramics Q&A: 10 things you need to know about ceramics

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Sergey Makhno Architects
October 15, 2019

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"Adam was created from clay. That’s all I want to say". 
Sergey Makhno

Welcome to the club full of love, ceramics, and our common words. Once upon a time, we did not hesitate to choose clay and open the production of ceramics. Now we cannot imagine our world without ceramic cups in the office, a zoomorphic collection Dido in the garden and handmade heats.

A thousand years ago, there was Adam. Adam was made from clay for the future of humanity. Many years ago, different questions about ceramics products and their life appeared. Therefore, here are our answers. Together with Sergey Makhno and the head of the ceramic workshop Oleksandr Yarovyj we finally set the record straight once and for all.

1. Can ceramics be recycled?

Yes.

Ceramic sherd can be turned into a chamotte crumb, which is widely used in construction work as a reinforcing filler. Chamotte is still used as a filler for clay, thereby improving its technological parameters for the manufacture of refractories, exterior ceramics, landscape sculptures. Broken ceramic dishes can be used in the facades sheeting. For example, the Spanish ceramic artist and architect Antoni Gaudí used recycled ceramics in his creative work. But darling, even if you are not going to build a house and you definitely don’t need ceramic dishes for the facade, always remember that ceramics can be welcomed at thrift stores.

2. Can ceramics go in the oven?

Yes, but.

Ceramics was born from clay that has been heat-treated above 1 000°C, so it is not afraid to heat in an oven or microwave. It has only one enemy named thermal shocks which can appear if you put the ceramic item on an open fire or, for example, sharply cool or heat it. You understand that it is forbidden to throw down plates into an avalanche of your stormy emotions and feelings, you need to prepare ceramics for the waves of human warmth. And one more thing, if the ceramic item is made in the technique of metal reduction, then it cannot go in the oven.

3. Can ceramics go in the dishwasher?

Yes, but.

It is possible but this option is not suitable for all ceramics. For example, it is not advisable to put handmade ceramics in the dishwasher. There are many factors, that we cannot control like corrosive soaps, soft water, too much detergent, very hot water, etc.

4. Can ceramics be fixed?

Yes.

Ceramic restoration is possible, the sherd is sufficiently porous and has good adhesion for bonding. The Japanese even turned this process into a philosophy called Kintsugi. For the art of restoring ceramic products, they use lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. Broken dishes are glued together again, but flaws do not mask. A flaw in the dishes does not mean the end of life, but rather an important moment in history. Cracks and flaws are not hidden, but exalted. Just like human success is impossible without battles and losses, the true beauty of dishes is impossible without cracks.

5. Can ceramics conduct electricity?

No.

Ceramics belongs to the group of dielectrics, substances that are not able to conduct electricity. Dielectrics are used as an insulating material. Ceramics are widely used in various fields due to their low electrical conductivity.

6. Is ceramics harder than metals?

Yes and no.

Ceramics are aluminosilicate from a mixture of different minerals and metals. It is very complicated to say what is harder — ceramics or metal, it all depends on the kind of metal. If we talk about chemical resistance, ceramics will be more resistant than all metals. If we take into account the molecular bonds of ceramics and metallurgy, then ceramics are more fragile to break.

7. When was ceramics first made?

Ceramics is considered one of the first man-made material. Venus of Dolní Věstonice is the oldest ceramic artifact dating from 28,000 BCE during the late Paleolithic period, found near Brno, in the Czech Republic. The first examples of pottery appeared in Eastern Asia several thousand years later. In the Xianrendong cave in China, fragments of pots dated to 18,000-17,000 BCE have been found. In our country, clay began to be used 7.5 thousand years ago.

8. Where did ceramics originate?

The origin of ceramics as a cultural and social phenomenon can be considered during the Trypillian culture. It was the first time when the landmark system appeared, indicating high civilizational development. And it was the first time when people started to use hand-drawn ceramics, indicating high cultural development. 

9. Why ceramics materials are brittle?

And why life is so brittle?

The brittleness of the materials depends on the crystal lattice. For example, glass is a single crystal lattice and it is considered to be more brittle than a polycrystalline ceramic lattice. If we will take a polycrystalline ceramic lattice and will fire it at high temperatures under high pressure, we will get a diamond that is stronger than iron or concrete.

10. How long will ceramics last?

Ceramics is the first artificial and the only eternal material in the world. We study the history of mankind on shards. It turns out that together we create the future. Each new sculpture can live forever, tell aliens about the Ukrainian traditions in the future and carry love through changes and oceans.

 

Author — Maria Fedko
Visuals — Nikita Uvarov

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