A Pottery Party fit for a Princess

If you have a daughter I am sure you are constantly searching for the perfect birthday party that will be fun and entertaining. One great way to make your little princess have a very special birthday is by throwing a "paint your own pottery" birthday party for her and a few of her closest friends. This can be an expensive prospect if you invite her entire second grade class but if you limit it to 6 or 8 of her very best friends then you should be able to keep costs under control to some degree.

The thing to keep in mind with a party such as this is to plan ahead. Many pottery shops that allow visitors to paint their own pottery will have deals and bargains that may be struck for birthday parties, showers, and other group events. By making plans early you can select one piece or a couple of pieces from which the girls can choose and establish a price for each piece and the firing of the pieces once the party ends. 

If there aren't any party plans around the pieces that strike the fancy of your little princess, though most have some fairly interesting pieces, you could perhaps establish a theme such as allowing each friend to make her own tea cup for a tea party theme. Each shop has a little something different to offer so keep this in mind when making plans. If you have an item in mind for the party that may be limited in availability make sure to reserve those pieces ahead of time so that you will have plenty for your party guests to paint. 

Another reason you need to plan ahead for parties of this nature is that most facilities require advanced notice in order to work out bargain pricing and many will provide a special room for the party guest in which you can bring food, drinks, and party favors for a little more fun and to add to the festivities. Your little princess is likely to agree that this is much more fun than an afternoon at that pizza party place and the guests will each be able to bring home a fabulous trinket and example of her artistic talents. Many of these facilities will require a certain deposit for reservation of the party room and you really should book as early as possible in order to insure the room is free during the time you wish to hold your little princess pottery party.

If this is going to be a coed party there is no need to fret. There are plenty of pieces that can work for male or female guests and you can make small adjustments to the party theme to accommodate either or both if you have siblings or boy best friends to consider in the bargain. Regardless, a pottery party is still a fairly fun and unique party prospect for most kids and will definitely boost your ratings on the 'world's coolest parent' totem pole until the next major battle brews at least.

Things you will want to consider before booking a party of this nature are the guests that will be invited. If this party is fit for boys and girls you will want this knowledge when making plans so that you may choose options accordingly. I don't know many boys who want princess crowns or teacups as a parting gift. You should also know the number of people you plan to invite. These parties typically charge a per guest rate and it can be quite high. Keep the invites small if possible or plan to invest a significant amount of money into making this party great. Also keep in mind that this really isn't a suitable environment for very small hands. There are many fragile items on display and all around. To avoid cuts and damages, keep the little ones at home for this particular excursion. Most importantly-have fun!

Egyptian Pottery Ageless Beauty

Ancient Egypt is a place of wild beauty and great fascination to many people today. Once, a hotbed of intrigue, commerce, and industry there is much about Egypt that remains dark and mysterious even in the modern world in which we currently live. One thing is certain however, the ancient Egyptians were artisans in their own right and one type of art in which they excelled was pottery. The pottery of ancient Egypt is often imitated today for many reasons.

Scholars have come to some sort of consensus of belief that the ancient Egyptians may have been the first to use enamel in pottery-a practice that adds great beauty and value to the pottery pieces, making them a true work of art. The amazing thing is that this is something that was introduced, we believe, nearly four thousand years ago and is still valued in today's modern society. 

To illustrate just how important pottery was to the ancient Egyptians there are actually pieces of pottery that are included in the ancient hieroglyphics that depicted acts of day to day living in this ancient civilization. Pottery was included in more than a few of these glimpses into history establishing its importance and the commonality of its use.

Pottery in ancient Egypt was almost always made for use rather than made for decoration. Even the smaller pieces were meant to hold perfumes with the larger pieces of pottery holding grains, water, wine, and even meat for later use or consumption. The pottery of ancient Egypt could also be found in many sizes to accommodate the different needs the pottery filled. It was common to find various pieces ranging in sizes from inches tall to three or four feet in height. Pottery was as common to the Egyptians of old as appliances are today and it did serve to make life go much more smoothly for the people who used it.

In ancient Egypt pottery was also used for some of the most sacred rites of burial. Pottery pieces were used to hold certain organs after they were removed from the body during the embalming process to prepare the body for burial. Each of the following: heart and lungs, liver, small intestines, and the stomach were placed in four separate containers made of pottery and buried along with the body. It should be noted that the Egyptians are not the only civilization to use pottery in relation to the dead. The ancient Greeks also stored the ashes of their dead in ceramic containers.

To understand the true beauty of the pottery of ancient Egypt one doesn't really need to understand the lack of sophisticated tools available to the ancient Egyptians to realize how stunningly beautiful many of the pieces really were. The fact that so many have managed to survive nearly four thousand years and many of them are quite well preserved allows us to glimpse not only the rise of pottery during that period of time and in that part of the world but also the evolution of this pottery as new methods were discovered and enhanced and as artisans improved and honed their skills. 

If you ever have the opportunity to visit a museum that has an exhibit dedicated to Egyptian pottery and have any interest at all in modern pottery I urge you to attend and learn about the fascinating techniques utilized by this ancient civilization to create works of art that are nearly impossible to rival today despite the wealth of technology that is at our disposal. If that isn't impressive to you, I would be inclined to believe that you are quite difficult to impress. 

Whether you appreciate history as much as the next guy or gal or not is not as important as whether or not you appreciate beauty. The ancient Egyptians had beauty down to a science rather than an art when it came to creating beautiful pieces of pottery. We are quite fortunate that so many have managed to survive the ravages of time, greed, and war to be enjoyed all these years later.

Finding a Great Pottery Wheel

There are many tools that a potter will use over the course of his lifetime as an artist. One of the most important to many potters is the potter's wheel. This device is used for a process that is commonly referred to as 'throwing' pottery. It is a very important device to many potters who do not enjoy the process of hand building pottery or need the ability to shape items in a very similar fashion. There are many instances, come to think of it, when a wheel is preferable to artists over hand building just as there are many situations when only hand building with clay is suitable. One thing remains however, and that is this: most artists who work with a wheel are quite picky about the wheels on which they will work.

Selecting a wheel for pottery work is like selecting another hand to use. The wheel will be your constant companion as you work with clay and it is important that you choose a wheel that is comfortable for you to use first and foremost. If you aren't comfortable using the wheel you select, chances are it will diminish your enjoyment of working with clay over time. You do not want to sacrifice your love of pottery to something as simply fixed as choosing a different wheel for throwing pottery.

You should also take care to choose a wheel that is suitable for the type of work you do. Not all wheels can handle all jobs. You need to choose a wheel that will handle the style of pottery you work with most as well as the weight of the clay you will be using. Read the instructions, warnings, and cautions carefully before selecting your potter's wheel in order to be quite certain that it will meet your pottery making needs.

Space is another important consideration when selecting a potter's wheel. You need to choose a wheel that will fit within the space you have available for working with clay in addition to allowing you the necessary room to actually work the clay. You will find that there are many different sized wheels on the market today. Make sure that you either adjust your needs in a wheel or adjust your available space in order to accommodate the wheel you select.

You should also pay close attention to the quality of the wheel you are purchasing. A potter's wheel is a rather significant investment. You want to make sure you are getting the best possible deal for your money. Go with a name you trust and if you aren't sure which name to trust ask people you trust: teachers, other artists, and gallery owners. Do not trust the salesman to give you adequate advice on a decision as important as this. He is driven by profit rather than insuring you get the most for your money.

Choosing the best potter's wheel to meet your pottery making needs is one of, if not the, best gifts you can give yourself as an artist that works with clay. Take your time when purchasing your wheel in order to insure your continued enjoyment and success when it comes to making pottery. This is one decision that you are not likely to regret taking your time and doing the right way the first time.

Finding Pottery Online

There are many ways to find great pottery. While it is often best to see the pieces in living color, the Internet offers opportunities for those who do not have ready or easy access to great artisans in their town or who prefer a type of pottery that typically isn't carried locally to find the pieces they desire to add to their collections without traveling extensively in order to do so. 

There are a few drawbacks to ordering pottery online and one of those would be the fact that you are only seeing a very flat representation of the finished product. In other words, it is very difficult for a picture to recreate the drama that a certain piece of pottery may have. The colors cannot be relied upon as accurate because of the differences in cameras, monitors, and picture quality. This means that if you are getting what you think is one color, that will match a certain feature in your room, you may actually be getting another color all together (blue and purple are often difficult to differentiate among other colors). This means that seeing the piece in person is definitely the best way to go if you have the opportunity. If not, be certain that the dealer from which you purchase the piece has a good standing with the BBB and a liberal return policy.

Another reason you should display caution when purchasing pottery online is that you can't really gauge the quality of the workmanship through a photograph either. This means you may be getting flawed pieces and yet paying the price you would expect to pay for a perfect piece of pottery by said artist. Unfortunately we cannot trust everyone to be completely honest. It is a sad truth but one that should definitely be considered. Many flaws will not show up on camera, particularly if there is only one view of the piece. Pottery, even when flawed can still be beautiful but no one wants to pay more than a piece of pottery is worth, especially those that are collecting as an investment.

If those reasons aren't enough there is the fact that it is always a good idea to support local talent whenever possible. If there is a good deal of support for local artists, chances are that more artists will begin to migrate to the area. Artists tend to build communities of like minded artists for some reason. Communities that support them often draw in more new artists, which means your choices and the local selection will improve with support and over time. Also, any money going into the local community is a good thing for everyone in the community. Jobs, spending and housing are all signs of a flourishing community. A community that supports the arts is another sign of a community that is growing.

Last but not least, when purchasing online make sure that you take every precaution to protect your investment and know the company you are dealing with. Good business happens online every day. There are many more honest people doing business online than dishonest people but it never hurts to be careful and protect your money and your purchase. Buying pottery online can be quite convenient if you have the need but it is certainly not the only way to go.

Giving Children the Gift of Creating Pottery

In the world in which we live, children are faced with many temptations, good and bad. It is in our best interests as parents to tip the scales in favor of the good temptations our children will face whenever possible by giving them plenty of skills, talents, and creative outlets upon which to exert their energy and focus. Sports are great but most sports are limited to seasons. This leaves parents looking for things to keep their children's active minds involved and occupied during the off seasons for their favorite sports. 

Pottery lessons are a great way to give kids a creative focus while helping them develop quiet activities they can enjoy. This also keeps them too busy to spend a lot of time on activities that are detrimental and hopefully will fill the time that may otherwise be spent falling into the wrong crowd. More importantly, there are very few gifts you can give your children that are better than the gift of being able to create something beautiful, practical, useful, or simply unique and different from a lump of clay. Pottery is doing just that.

First lessons for children should be simple and not too aggressive. Let your child set his or her own pace for pottery lessons and don't push him or her to go too far too fast. Like most things in life, your child will need to learn to crawl before he or she walks in the field of pottery. This often means learning the intricacies of hand building with clay before moving on to the potter's wheel though your child may choose to move on to the wheel and show no interest in hand building at all. The most important thing is that you keep your child interested or the lessons will be a waste of time and money resulting in the opposite effect of what you are hoping to achieve.

Most communities offer some sort of art classes that include pottery sessions for children. Larger communities will have classes for children that specifically deal with pottery. If you are fortunate enough to live in one of these communities it is a great field to introduce your little ones too as you never know when true talent may show itself. If your child does display a good deal of talent or an avid interest in pursuing pottery further there are generally classes that can be taken for those who have had the basics and are ready to move on to some of the more advanced skills. 

Some art schools and community-based organizations will even offer scholarships to some students if there is sufficient talent and a financial need so the costs of these classes aren't often too terribly high. Most communities do make a concerted effort to keep the costs of these classes low in order to provide more productive outlets for children and be a positive force in the lives of the children that will one day be the future of our nation.

If you haven't considered giving the gift of pottery lessons to your children as both a creative outlet and the opportunity to build something rather than destroy I hope you will do so after reading this. Giving the gift of creation to anyone is a great gift. Teaching your children when they are young sets the stage for even greater lessons to come.

Giving Pottery Gifts

Pottery makes a beautiful addition to any home and an extremely thoughtful gift. Not only is most pottery quite beautiful from a decorative point of view, there are also literally tons of practical uses for pottery other than simply looking nice sitting on a mantel or decorating a shelf. Pottery is many things to many different people and there are all kinds of wonderful gift ideas that center around pottery if you are willing to take the time to find the perfect piece or have the imagination to create a nice combination of your own.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of housewarming gifts is a pottery bowl full of goodies. Seriously, it is much better than a basket for some and offers just as many alternatives for filling. There are coffee mugs made of pottery that can be filled with coffee snacks and single servings of favorite gourmet coffee beans. Chocolate dipped coffee spoons are excellent additions to this particular pottery gift as are biscotti or even your favorite muffins to enjoy with a nice cup of coffee. This is a great gift to share with a coffee drinking friend or sibling or to give yourself as a quick pick me up on a dreary day.

Other great pottery 'basket' ideas include pasta related themes. There are actually colanders made of pottery that are perfect for draining pasta, washing fruit, and other such activities. You can fill the colander with dried pasta, a favorite sauce, a jar of olives, a nice bottle of gourmet olive oil, and a few favorite Italians seasonings to complete the theme. This makes a great gift for housewarmings, holidays, and birthdays. If you are really thoughtful, this is also a great gift to give to new parents and newlyweds as it gives them an easy night of cooking.

Other great pottery gifts include pasta bowls, mixing bowls (particularly those of varying sizes that stack one inside the other), pie plates, and casserole dishes for baking. Most people appreciate anything that saves time in the kitchen and dishes that are suitable for both baking and serving save time, effort, and clean up, which are equally appreciated when all is said and done.

For the people on your gift list with international designs you may want to consider a pottery Sushi set, Sake set, or rice bowls for their collection. These pieces are quite lovely in their own right and will greatly enhance the international dining experience. For those on your list that enjoy Japanese cuisine this makes a very thoughtful and elegant gift.

Of course there are pottery pieces that can be made to purchase or found on a whim that include floral depictions, painted tiles, and other wall art that may absolutely be the perfect gift for a certain someone on your gift giving list in the near future. If you have characters in your family then it is quite likely there are a few pottery artists that may just have their number. I have seen some very interesting and lovely pieces that have been made from pottery and hope that you will find many along your travels that appeal to you as well. Giving the gift of pottery is often sharing something you love with the people you love. There are few gifts in the world that are better.

Great Places to Shop for Pottery

There are many great places to shop for nice custom made pottery pieces in large and small cities and towns across the country. While many of these places are a little off the beaten path and often will not be found at the local 'mega mall' or 'super center,' there are plenty of shopping options available to most who are interested in buying unique and interesting pieces of pottery to add to their collections or even in order to begin a collection.

The first to consider, and often overlooked, would be local garage sales. There is no small degree of truth to the saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure. You will be amazed at some of the amazing pieces you will find at garage sales for next to nothing. Many of the people selling these items are people, who do not appreciate pottery, were given these pieces as gifts, or who inherited them and have no real idea of the worth of these pieces or do and just do not care. Regardless, you can find many great pottery pieces at garage sales for a fraction of what you will pay elsewhere. The only problem is that you must often sacrifice a little bit of sleep for the better bargains or finer pieces.

Flea markets are another excellent source of pottery pieces for the avid or even casual collectors. You never know what you will find at antique shops or flea markets and there have been many beautiful pieces gotten for a steal at places such as these. You will pay a little more than garage sale prices in these venues so be prepared to make an investment if you are truly interested in developing a pottery collection or adding to an existing collection.

Ebay and similar online auction websites are other excellent sources for finding the treasures you seek in pottery. There are often plenty of pieces from which to choose and many of them fetch a rather low price. Be careful however that you do not find yourself sucked into a bidding war and pay well over the actual value of the piece unless it's something you really want from a personal standpoint rather than that of a collector. In a best case scenario you would only select pieces that add value to your collection and get them well below cost. Of course, life doesn't always work out in best case scenarios.

Local craft shops and art galleries are another great place to find new and talented artists and vendors in your area for the pottery pieces you seek. If you develop a good working relationship with some of the local talent or a local vendor he or she will inform you of when new work is being presented, going on sale, and being marked down. Local vendors realize that the bread and butter of their businesses and they are also the ones most likely to buy something else when coming in to check out items on sale. Regardless it's always a great idea to support your local talent and local businesses whenever possible and assuming you actually appreciate the pottery pieces being sold.

Traveling or annual craft fairs are also excellent for finding the pieces you want to add to your collection. Many artisans work year round in order to create a nice display of pottery for the local craft fairs and many of these pieces are quite stunning in beauty and design. Visit your local festivals and craft fairs and pay close attention to the different artists that have their works displayed. Pick up business cards, visit websites, and view gallery showings. 

You never know when you'll find that perfect, must have, piece for your pottery collection. Hopefully, the places mentioned above will provide you with a few excellent places to begin your search. The Internet also provides many excellent opportunities to find beautiful pottery pieces if you know exactly what you are looking for.

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