Use Case 3: Traditional Craftsmanship

The case study of the traditional handicrafts aims at the analysis, modelling, recognition and semantic analysis of gestural interactions between the craftsman and his material. Within the proposed context, handicraft interaction means gesture control of the material. In order to develop a hybrid gesture recognition methodology, depth cameras will be used for the detection of global hand gestures and postures, optical cameras for finger gesture recognition and embedded sensors for the measurement of gestural parameters. Thus, this novel methodology will integrate both gestures performed in space, implying motion of the arms, and hand gestures performed on a surface or on objects, taking into account the fingers’ motions. The system will continuously recognize the entire gestural information of the craftsman, relying on the recording and the identification of the most effective interactions between him and his material. In short, this use case aims to “put in a closet” the most effective gestures of holders of rare handicraft knowledge.

Figure 1: The case study of the traditional handicrafts aims at the analysis, modelling, recognition and semantic analysis of gestural interactions between the craftsman and his material.

One of the most important tools in manufacturing ceramics is undoubtedly the pottery wheel. In pottery, the potter’s wheel is a machine used to form the internal round (inside) in ceramics. The wheel can also be used in the process of implementation as well as the decoration of ceramics. The use of the potter's wheel became widespread across the Old Continent, but was unknown in pre-Columbian era, where pottery was handmade.

The early pots

Archaeological evidence, together with the example of primitive tribes in recent times, suggests that the earliest containers used by neolithic man range from hollowed out pieces of stone or wood to more elaborate artefacts such as bags of animal skin and, above all, baskets. Basketry is one of the earliest crafts to be developed. Almost every region of the world has suitable materials, in grasses, reeds or willows, and the resulting object is both cheap and light. 

The clay

But baskets are not good for containing liquids. For that purpose early technology soon finds another material which is cheap, widely available and (by comparison with stone) relatively light. This material is clay. 


Pottery: 25.000 B.C.

But most communities, tending their crops in the Neolithic Revolution, soon discover the technique and use of pottery. With one remarkable exception, at Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic (where models of animals and a Venus figurine have been dated to about 25,000 years ago), the earliest examples come from the Middle East, the region where agriculture first develops. Pottery fragments from about 6500 BC have been found at Catal Huyuk in Turkey. 

Greek vases: 6th - 5th century BC 

The Greeks develop by far the most sophisticated tradition of early pottery, and Greek vases survive in greater numbers than any other ceramic group of comparable age. During the period of greatest distinction, from about 550 to 480 BC, the potters of Athens and the surrounding district of Attica are the most accomplished in the Greek world. It is they who perfect the decorative style known as black-figure and then introduce the subsequent red-figure technique. Crucial to the success of both is the discovery of the Attic potters, in the 6th century, that an attractive warm colour can be given to the undecorated surface of a pot by the addition of red ochre to the clay.

The potter's wheel: 3000 BC 

When a pot is built up from the base by hand, it is impossible that it should be perfectly round. The solution to this problem is the potter's wheel, which has been a crucial factor in the history of ceramics. It is not known when or where the potter's wheel is introduced. Indeed it is likely that it develops very gradually, from a platform on which the potter turns the pot before shaping another side (thus avoiding having to walk around it).  By about 3000 BC a simple revolving wheel is a part of the potter's equipment in Mesopotamia, the cradle of so many innovations. 

Contemporary pottery wheel 

Modern potters tend to use the electric style of wheel, as it gives consistent turning with little effort. Most wheels have several speeds at which to work, usually the foot presses down on an "accelerator" or foot plate to control the speed of the wheel head. Electric wheels also tend to be smaller than kick wheels. Electric wheels need only a small stool or other place to sit to work on the wheel. Additional parts may be added, such as a shelf for tools, water, sponges, and so on. Different heads may be added to some of the electric wheels, making it easy to just add a new head and continue throwing while the previous pot dries on the last head. For wheels without interchangeable heads, a small bat may be attached to the wheel head with bolts or just several balls of clay.

Creation with potter's wheel of small object

In order to create a bowl in potter’s wheel there are four distinct phases according to the expert.

  • Knead and center clay on the potter’s wheel
  • Make a hole and raise the clay object
  • Form the shape with special tools
  • Cut and remove the object

Clays are generally divided into three categories:

  • Clays of low temperature (earthware)
  • Clays of high temperature  (stoneware)
  • Porcelains 


If your are further interested in learning more about Traditional Craftsmanship, you can visit our Learning Management System


History world, History of pottery, To pot or not
New World Encyclopedia, Potter’s wheel, Electric vs. kick wheels
Ceramics of  Leros, The potter’s wheel