At Maple Tree Elementary, second graders are making clay pencil holders their parents will joyfully receive as priceless gifts. Meanwhile, the Downtown Art Museum displays an ornate vase worth millions of dollars, crafted by one of the masters. Across the world, from Africa to the Americas, men and women sit outside their tiny hovels forming simple pots to carry their daily water supply. How can the same material serve so many purposes?
Unlike soil and dirt, which crumble when you pick them up, God created clay with plasticity, the ability to be molded. And when this clay is fired, it transforms chemically into ceramic—a durable substance that can’t be turned back into clay. It becomes strong, heat resistant, and waterproof. As a result, clay can be shaped into just about anything—including the kitchen sink.
It’s no accident that the God who formed and shaped us from the earth (Genesis 2:7) allows us to reflect his creative work when we shape new creations with clay. The Lord distributed thousands of colorful varieties of this cheap, all-purpose resource all over the world to provide everyone’s basic—and artistic—needs. Clay also shows up in some surprising places.
Ceramic nonstick cookware is extremely popular. Ceramic coating eliminates a toxic chemical used in the process of making traditional non-stick coating.
Some orthopedic hip replacements use ceramic parts. The ceramic bonds readily to bone and other tissues without rejection or inflammatory reactions.
Cars use ceramic components. Spark plugs have a dense ceramic insulator (the white part) as part of their design.
Ceramic plates inserted into soft body armor can stop rounds from high-powered rifles.
Most toilets are made of porcelain, which resists bacteria—very important in a place where germs run rampant.
Ceramic components such as insulators, resistors, and capacitors make your cell phone and computer possible.
The reusable heat shield that protected the space shuttle from burning up on reentry into the atmosphere is made from lightweight ceramic that can withstand temperatures up to 2300ºF (1260ºC).