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Mixed Media Incorporated Into Ceramics

Updated on February 7, 2020

Innovative Ceramics: Designing Your Piece around existing mixed Media Parts.

Clay is extremely versatile and has been one of the backbones of civilized societies. Ceramics is no less useful today and there is a vast field of many applications. In this presentation, we will look at lighting and cooling applications. We will borrow ideas from ancient times and the contemporary period. Some things to be considered are;

  • two types of oil lamps
  • a cooling air conditioner
  • a large, non electrical/non gas powered refrigeration unit

You will need to do some experimental trials in order to establish the shrink rate of the clay you are using, especially if it is ew too you. You will also need to know if the finished piece can stand up to local heating and whether, with care, it is totally leak proof. There is a huge variety of solutions to your goal.


Simple Oil Lamp and More Comp!ex

This is a simple, one piece oil lamp with four wicks. It can be used in a ceramic heater or by itself.
This is a simple, one piece oil lamp with four wicks. It can be used in a ceramic heater or by itself. | Source
This functioning oil lamp made by the author,  was designed to incorporate the metalwork of the burners.
This functioning oil lamp made by the author, was designed to incorporate the metalwork of the burners.
This is another variation on the oil lamp by the author. Not shown are the glass chimneys.
This is another variation on the oil lamp by the author. Not shown are the glass chimneys.

Ceramic Oil Lamps; An Ancient Art Renewed

We can learn a lot from our ancestors, ancient and recent. Oil lamps have been made out of a wide variety of materials, but our focus here is the ceramic kind, which anyone can make. There are two main types and we will look at both. There is the basic open wick design and the closed wick in a glass chimney type. The open wick oil lamp can be really simple in construction, or it can be more complex. The closed wick within a glass chimney is more complex and requires knowledge of a clay bodied shrink rate.

The simple open wick oil lamp can be made as a single piece on a wheel. The more comp!ex form is made of four parts and looks somewhat like a squat tea pot. In both cases, it is essential to make the pot stable so that it is not easily tipped over.

Other designs like the two pictured are more complex and need to be made to fit preexisting metal parts.

A More Traditional Style Oil Lamp

This style of oil lamp is made of at least four parts (this one, six). The parts are the tank,  handle,  spout and lid.
This style of oil lamp is made of at least four parts (this one, six). The parts are the tank, handle, spout and lid.
This large piece was designed to fit around a fan and contain water that evaprated and chill the air blown by the fan.
This large piece was designed to fit around a fan and contain water that evaprated and chill the air blown by the fan.

Air Condition Your Space with a Ceramic Cooler

If you can work your clay to fit existing metal piece(s), then you can make a water jacket chiller to turn a electric fan into an air conditioner. This piece requires making several measurements depending on the fan you wish to mount it on. The pictured piece was designed to hold a small fan, so only one critical measurement was required. Your peace will likely differ depending on the fan you use.

The ceramic piece itself will likely be made in several pieces and assembled to make the unit. The piece needs to be made with a high grog clause and only bisque fired.

Here is a piece  that Incorporates stain glass to create an interesting votive or light.
Here is a piece that Incorporates stain glass to create an interesting votive or light.

Creative Lighting and Heating

Combine various elements with clay to create a colored light display along with heating. Now, for the most part, the clay body is bisque fired only, but you can find low fired glazes that match bisque temperatures of terracotta. Stained glass inserts can be cut to size to fit the precut holes. Don't forget to make air entry and waste vents.

Passive Refrigeration? YES!

You will need o be able to work large. The passive ceramic refrigerator is made of four basic pieces. The are the outer bisque container, and inner vitrified (glaze fired) container and lids for both the outer and inner parts. Between the two containers, you will need to fill with white sand. The entire unit will be partly submerged in a shaded area underground. You can also elect just to have it sitting free on a shaded patio.

The principle used is evaporation cooling, which is why the outer container is bisque fired only along with its lid. Make it lagre enough to hold produce like celery stalks, zuchini and carrots. Any perishable produce can be stored in these containers that are somewhat like a root cellar, only on a smaller scale. You may widh to make a few. They are not suitable for frozen goods.

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