Pottery is a universal and widely applied craft that has endured for thousands of years. But while people have mastered this craft and have optimized the material, its production method has remained relatively unchanged. Nowadays, pottery is seeing a huge surge in popularity as a creative and harmless escape from the stresses of contemporary life. But if we unpick every aspect of ceramics, we will identify quite a few problematic areas. One of them is the energy-consuming and carbon-heavy kiln firing process. But what if we could find alternative ways of creating ceramics; ceramics that do not require kiln firing; ceramics made by living organisms and biological processes?

Industrial biotechnology, one of the most promising technologies around, has the potential to address some of the world’s significant challenges, such as creating new alternative materials that are more environmentally friendly. The potential is enormous.

BacTerra is a project proposing the use of bacteria to create alternative ceramics that are self-fired and biologically glazed. By providing a making process where ceramic waste and living organisms are my main ingredients, I hope to start a conversation about the promising possibilities of biotechnology within pottery.

The designed method for creating bioceramics adopts techniques and processes from microbiology but is simplified so it can be easily used by ceramicists and makers.

The first step of this method is to grow a bacteria sporosarcina pasteurii - commonly found in soil - in a nutrient liquid to help it multiply. The solution is then mixed with ceramic waste and left to establish itself between the grog particles. The mixture can then be transferred to the desire shaped mold and submerged in a tank with cementation solution for few days. The solution has nutrients that encourage the bacteria to develop before combined with calcium chloride to form calcite, a substance that binds the material.

After few days the biological process of biomineralisation is complete and the result is a self-fired strong ceramic piece that has been naturally 'glazed' with a layer of calcium carbonate.