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Article: Ceramics

Summary

This article covers the following jobs:

  • Ceramic Pottery Maker
  • Ceramics Designer
  • Ceramics Technologist
  • Craft Designer.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Video: - Various: Textiles, Ceramics and Glass

Introduction

Ceramics are products that are usually made from clay and then heated to make them hard. Work with ceramics can cover a range of tasks, including:

  • carrying out research into a new product or raw materials
  • drafting original designs
  • making samples or working models
  • making and selling the final product.

Creativity and artistic skills are essential for this type of work. An appreciation of colour, shape and form is required, together with the imagination and ability to create attractive, original pieces of work that people will want to buy.

For some jobs, a high level of technical understanding is needed. For example, it may be necessary to know production capabilities and properties of materials. It may also be necessary to use computer-aided design (CAD). Practical skills are required to use tools and equipment to make products.

Some of the different careers in this area

Ceramics Designer

Ceramics designers create designs for pottery products.

Ceramics designers who work in industry design goods for mass production. These include table and ovenware, floor tiles and bathroom fittings. They follow a brief that includes details such as the type of ceramics required and what the product will be used for. After they have done some research, they sketch their ideas for designs. If these are approved, production begins.

Potters or designer-craftworkers produce goods on a small scale. They use traditional craft methods, such as a potter's wheel, to produce the goods.

To become a ceramics designer, you're likely to need a degree or HND in a relevant subject such as ceramics or ceramic design.

Craft Designer

Craft designers create designs for a range of two- and three-dimensional objects. Most specialise in a particular area such as ceramics, wood, metalwork/jewellery or glass.

Some designers produce designs for large-scale production by manufacturers, while others work as designer-craftworkers producing designs on a small scale.

In large-scale production, designers work to a brief, which outlines the type of product required and how much money is available for production. Designers then research all aspects of the product and produce designs including technical details. Once designs are accepted, they can be produced.

Designer-craftworkers are responsible for the whole design process, from creating original designs to making, and usually selling, the craft products. They may have to work to a brief to meet a customer's requirements.

There are no set entry routes into craft design. However, most people take courses up to HND or degree level.

Ceramic Pottery Maker

Ceramic pottery makers use a combination of traditional craft skills and mechanised processes to make pottery products. Some products, such as pots, are shaped by hand, while others, such as saucers, are shaped by moulds.

Traditional hand tools are still used, as this remains an effective method of manufacture. However, automatic tools are also often used, as they speed up the process.

You will need good hand skills for this type of work. Creativity and a good eye for detail and design are necessary if you are making original items.

Formal qualifications are not usually needed for entry to this work. However, some GCSEs (or equivalent) including English, Maths, Design and Technology (Resistant Materials), and Manufacturing will be useful. Practical ability is often more important than academic qualifications.

Some people go into this career via an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Ceramics Manufacturing.

Ceramics Technologist

Ceramics technologists work on the research, development, production and quality control of ceramics and ceramic products. Ceramic materials include:

  • pottery, such as tableware
  • building materials, such as bricks and tiles
  • heat resistant materials for furnaces
  • electronic components.

Ceramics technologists who are involved in research analyse raw materials and ceramic products. This helps to determine their structure and chemical and physical make-up. They test the ability of products to withstand conditions such as high temperatures and erosion (wearing away of the ceramics by the environment).

Development work involves the design of new ceramic materials to meet certain requirements. For example, ceramics can be used to make electronic components, jet engines, lasers and human joint replacements.

Technologists concerned with production deal with every stage of production, from the preparation of raw materials and the selection of suitable heat treatment, to grinding or machining and polishing.

Quality control work involves testing raw materials and finished products to make sure that they meet the required standards.

Entry to this profession is usually after a degree in a relevant subject.

Further Information

Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)

Address: 1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB

Tel: 020 7451 7300

Website: www.iom3.org

Proskills UK

Skills for process and manufacturing industries

Address: Centurion Court, 85b Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY

Tel: 01235 833844

Email: info@proskills.co.uk

Website: www.proskills.co.uk

Prospect4u

Careers in manufacturing

Website: www.prospect4u.co.uk

British Ceramic Confederation (BCC)

Address: Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2SA

Tel: 01782 744631

Email: bcc@ceramfed.co.uk

Website: www.ceramfed.co.uk

Crafts Council

Address: 44a Pentonville Road, Islington, London N1 9BY

Tel: 020 7806 2500

Email: reception@craftscouncil.org.uk

Website: www.craftscouncil.org.uk

Studiopottery.co.uk

Address: 13 Blunts Wood Road, Haywards Heath, Sussex RH16 1ND

Email: info@studiopottery.co.uk

Website: www.studiopottery.co.uk

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