Wednesday, 25 May 2022

In Industry

Opportunities in the Pottery Industry in Zimbabwe

Empires and Societies that stemmed from all regions of Zimbabwe, including the Great Zimbabwe, all made economic use of Pottery, and that skill set and those resources for production are still available today. They must be engrafted into the economic system of the rural and peri-urban farmer, to create not just a tourism element, but a formidable household industry that cuts across from the Kitchen, Living Room, to the Bathroom and Bedroom in Ceramic and Pottery-ware.

Traditionally, pots were used in rural communities for carrying water, the mass storage of food and milk, cooking food, serving and drinking beer. Built for an entirely functional use the vessels were easily and cheaply made as long as clay was locally available. Some pots were use for traditional purposes for sacred functions, they were given names so as to suit its purpose, some were called “mbiya, pfuko, mhirimo, these traditions still exist in some parts of Zimbabwe, however due to globalisation some have already dumped the tradition.

Women in ancient Africa were the primary people that made ancient African pottery. Ancient African pottery was constructed entirely by hand. Pottery was shaped into objects and crude tools were used to etch the designs into the wet clay. The clay pottery would then be placed in an open fire or kiln to harden.

Pottery fragments found in a south China cave have been confirmed to be 20,000 years old, making them the oldest known pottery in the world, archaeologists say.

Tin-glazed pottery, or faience, originated in Iraq in the 9th century, from where it spread to Egypt, Persia and Spain before reaching Italy in the Renaissance, Holland in the 16th century and England, France and other European countries shortly after.

There are three main types of pottery/ceramic. These are earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.

Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.

In southern African Iron Age studies, there are few attempts to systematically apply and include laboratory analyses when studying archaeological ceramic materials. As demonstrated in this paper, such analyses help to understand the technological aspects such as raw materials, manufacturing techniques and vessel function. Combined with vessel shape and decoration as well as ethnographic studies, the results provide new ways to understand local and regional distribution networks of the ceramics craft. Furthermore, laboratory analyses are most useful when studying continuity and changes in the ceramics handicraft over time, which has implications both on cultural and social change as seen in the shift in ceramic production techniques.

It must be noted that Ceramics and Pottery are the same. The word ceramic derives from Greek which translates as "of pottery" or "for pottery". Both pottery and ceramic are general terms that describe objects which have been formed with clay, hardened by firing and decorated or glazed.

Ceramic clays are classified into five classes; earthenware clays, stoneware clays, ball clays, fire clays and porcelain clays. Ceramics and pottery often serve the function of utilitarian objects, but they may also be considered as works of art. Ceramic art is a major form of modern art, with clay leading many contemporary artists to explore this medium.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in ceramic art as an educational tool within elementary and secondary school science education curriculums around the globe. With increased access to state-of-the-art materials and equipment, educators can facilitate learning in the fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology and geology. Furthermore, ceramic workshops are becoming a popular experience for middle school field trips and are often conducted by local ceramists or teachers trained in conducting workshops.

Potential uses of Pottery/Ceramic products include Tiles, Cookware, Bricks, Toilets, and many more. Wide range of work has been done on ceramic tiles, both by chemical and physical methods. These studies are mainly done on ceramics manufactured in Egypt. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the fractural strength of a range of ceramic tiles produced in Mexico using the Riehle-Atherton model.

Another potential use is as an art and craft material.

Pottery is also used in agriculture, particularly in growing plants. "Terra cotta" pots filled with soil is used for starting seeds for garden plants, since the clay absorbs water slowly and releases it over time to keep the plant moist without drowning it.

Our house is made of bricks and glued together with cement, both ceramic. If there were no pottery, what would we use to build the four walls of the house? Sanitary products such as toilets, sinks and bathtubs are made of ceramic. Ceramics can be polished and baked to be non-porous, which is very suitable for everyday sanitary ware and will of course come in contact with a lot of water!

Zimbabwe has the right clay for manufacturing pottery products, and ceramics for local use, and for export. 

Places like Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe has been attracting tourists with these pottery objects, artists in Zimbabwe are making use of this clay to earn a living and even support the economy through tourists.

Our potters can be trained to produce for local needs, and for sale in neighbouring countries.

Potters can be trained to produce new range of products such as Tiles, Terracotta, Crockery and Sanitary Ware.

The Zimbabwe Ceramics Society was created in 1964 with the objective of conserving, researching and promoting the ceramic art craft in Zimbabwe. The society has in the past been responsible for sponsoring young potters who had recently graduated from training institutions to set up their own workshops.

The Potters' Workshop was established in 1991. The workshop is an offshoot of the Zimbabwe Ceramics Society. The workshop provides training to potter and to others interested in the ceramics craft.

There is an increasing emphasis on developing ceramics education in schools today, particularly as a means to help children develop skills that can be applied in real life situations. There are a number of ceramic education programmes available for primary and secondary schoolchildren which teach various aspects of working with clay, including glazing for decorative purposes, firing techniques and the application of various glazes.