Ceramic moulds, also known as pottery moulds, are tools that are used by sculptors to make shapes that they would not be able to create with just a pottery wheel. Moulds have been used for centuries by craftsman to shape their pottery in a uniform way. The advantage of using a mould is that all of the items made with it come out looking exactly the same. By hand, it is nearly impossible to create an exact replica of something else. The ceramic moulds form the clay into a specific shape. Depending on the type of mould used, this is done in a number of ways. Sometimes, the clay must be fully dried and hardened before it can be removed from the mould, other times the mould can be removed right away. If the clay is left to dry on the mould, it must be removed with a chisel or a wedge. Sometimes this damages the mould, making it necessary to have several on hand.
It can get expensive purchasing moulds for multiple projects, so one way to save money and make the hobby more affordable is to find used ceramic moulds. This may seem impossible since shops usually only sell new products. However, there are places that do carry all types of used ceramic moulds for pottery.
History of Pottery
Pottery is formed by shaping clay with the hands or moulds and then heating the clay in a kiln. The heating process removes the water from the clay, which then induces chemical reactions that cause the clay to strengthen and harden.
Because of its durability, pottery has been found that dates back to prehistoric times, and this provides a great way to learn about the artefacts from that time period. The pottery at that time was made from clay that was fired at low temperatures instead of high temperatures, because they only had fire pits to work with. The clay was hand formed, porous, and was not very good at storing liquids. However, it was still used frequently for storing other goods, and once ceramic glaze was invented, it was fully capable of holding liquid without soaking it up.
Ceramic Mould Quality
The quality and sizes of the ceramic moulds is important, because the moulds have to hold up against the high temperatures that the clay is baked at. Good moulds have tight seams and some even have devices that lock the moulds over the clay to ensure a good shape. In order to be re-used, moulds have to be at least 0.3 centimetres in thickness. Otherwise, the mould would crack and break after one use, or during use. However, often ceramic moulds are only meant for one use. It is the synthetic moulds that are made to withstand being fired at high temperatures hundreds of times.
Types of Ceramic Moulds
There are multiple kinds of ceramic moulds that shape the clay in different ways. They range in sizes, types of designs, and how they are used. The following sections describe each type of ceramic mould.
Ceramic Clay Stamps Moulds
Clay stamps are used to form complex impressions into the clay. They can be reused as many times as need be because they are not fired with the clay. The designs on the clay stamps are risen and when pressed into the soft clay, they leave the impression. The stamps are made out of ceramic because other materials such as rubber do not maintain their stiffness and shape as well.
The stamps can be almost any size, and come in several sizes and varieties. They range in size from three centimetres to much larger sizes. Since these ceramic clay stamps can be reused, they are easy moulds to find used at affordable prices. Many people only use the stamps one or two times and then they have no need of them anymore. Stamps are most often used for flat pottery that is not at risk of being warped. For example, a vase could cave in on itself when the stamp is pressed into the clay that is still soft.
Ceramic Press Moulds
Press moulds, also called slip moulds, are one of the most common types of moulds used in pottery. They are flat with designs carved out of them. The clay is pushed into the design and takes on it shape. There are two types of press moulds to consider: open pour and closed pour. When pressed into the open pour moulds, the clay takes on the new shape, but the back of it still remains flat. The closed pour ones have a top and a bottom piece that both have the same identical design. The clay is pressed into the bottom piece, and then the second piece is pressed down on top of that. Once the clay has been fired, it displays a front and back design on it.
Because the clay is pressed into the mould while it is still soft, it cannot be removed until after it is hardened, or the design is going to be ruined. This means that the ceramic mould has to be able to withstand the high temperatures, and there is a chance it may have to be broken in order to remove it from the clay.
However, some press moulds are designed to withdraw the moisture from the clay, therefore hardening it. Because of this, the clay can be removed from the mould, and then fired on its own. These kinds of moulds can be reused.
Slump and Hump Moulds
Slump and hump moulds are large, simple, and used for creating several items of pottery that are identical in size and shape. For example, these are used to create plates and bowls that need to be symmetrical. The moulds are either concave, convex, or both. Certain moulds, such as ones intended for making plates, are two sided so that the artist only has to purchase one mould instead of two. With convex ones, the clay is pressed down over the mould, whereas the clay has to be pressed into the concave ones.
These moulds are designed to withdraw the moisture from the clay so that it becomes hard enough to remove before the firing process and without damaging the shape of the item. Once the clay is removed, it can then be fired to harden it the rest of the way. They are designed this way because these moulds in particular are always used multiple times in order to make several identical pieces, therefore the artist would not want to purchase a new mould for each individual item in the project.
Ceramic Texture Moulds
Texture moulds are large slats of ceramic with a shallow, intricate design engraved on top. The clay is pressed down over the top of the mould to give the surface of the pottery a textured look. These are also usually designed so that several of them can be purchased and laid next to each other, creating a larger surface to press the clay onto.
Find Used Ceramic Moulds on eBay
Purchasing used ceramic moulds is a great way to cut down on costs and save a little money. However, finding used moulds can be a challenge. Locally, secondhand shops may have some used pottery equipment from time to time, but it is unlikely. The best place to find a good selection of used products is on eBay, a website where anybody can sell their new or used goods. To start browsing through the used moulds, type "ceramic moulds" into the eBay search bar. Next, find the Condition section and click on Used. You also have the option to enter in your price range so you do not have to waste your time looking through the products that are priced too high.
As you shop, you can add the moulds you like to your Watch List. This way you can keep track of the ones with potential and continue sorting through the rest. When you are done browsing, all you have to do is go to your My eBay page to look at all the ones you added. You can then compare them all next to each other and choose which ones to order. Be sure to include the cost of postage in the comparisons.
Ceramic moulds make it possible to create unique pottery that could not be made by hand. Moulds can be found to create nearly any shape necessary, whether it is a solid figure, or several identical dinnerware pieces. Since purchasing several moulds can add up in price, so finding used ones keeps costs down significantly. Shopping for used moulds is easy and anyone can do it. First, they have to choose the type of mould to get based on the kind of project they are working on. Next, determine the quality of the mould by reading brand reviews. Lastly, find the used moulds online and compare the prices to find the best deals.
Since the moulds are used, be sure to look at all the product pictures and read the product description to determine its condition. Make sure that the moulds have no cracks or fractures, and if there are any doubts, do not hesitate to contact the seller and ask them questions.