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5 Steps in the Ceramic manufacturing

Modelling

Our ceramics are born from raw clay, which can be modeled with many different techniques according to the object to be obtained. Freehand clay modeling is the oldest working method and consists of using the hands to create a three-dimensional shape such as a fruit, a pupa or a knight. To define the details, the craftsman then uses wooden sticks, gouges and iron points. To create curved and rounded shapes such as vases, lamps and candle holders, the master ceramist resorts to the use of a lathe, a rotating disk on which he places a shapeless mass of clay and quickly rotates the plasma with his hands.

It is necessary to continuously wet the clay to make it slide better between the fingers and facilitate the modeling work. It takes great exercise and physical strength to hold the clay in your hands while the support surface rotates at great speed. Raw clay can be cut into slabs of a certain thickness with an iron wire or spread with a rolling pin. Then these slabs are curved to obtain wall lights, decorative panels and objects with square shapes.

lathe modeling

Drying and First Cooking

Freshly modeled objects in raw clay must dry slowly in the open air to lose internal humidity. After a few days they take on a hard and compact consistency, with a light gray color, the stage known as ‘leather hardness’. It is the right time to carve the surface of the ceramics with a scalpel to obtain fascinating decorative effects on lamps, candle holders and wall lights. The firing of raw clay objects takes place in large ovens that reach very high temperatures. Cooking can last for many hours and the temperature must gradually increase and decrease. After cooking the product undergoes a reduction in volume. The result is a rusty red object: the “biscuit” or “terracotta“.

Ceramic drying - Pupe di Grottaglie

The glazing

In immersion glazing, the biscuit is immersed with the aid of metal tongs in a white or colored liquid solution, the glaze. Before proceeding with immersion in the glaze, the ceramics must be perfectly clean, smooth and free of dust. The porous surface of the terracotta absorbs the glaze and becomes dusty to the touch. All excess glaze is removed before the next second firing. The liquid glaze can also be sprayed on the object by means of an airbrush, an aluminum or steel device equipped with a tank to contain the liquid to be sprayed.

ceramic glazing by immersion

Brush, graffiti, fretwork or intaglio decoration

The glazed object must dry for a few days. In this phase, the decorator paints the surface of the object with brushes and ceramic colors, drawing flowers, leaves, animals and landscapes using different types of brush strokes according to the decorative effects he intends to achieve. In Graffito decoration, the dry glaze that covers the surface of the ceramics can be engraved with the burin, an iron tip to draw flowers, leaves and complex geometries on the surface of the object.

The surface glaze is literally scratched off along the line of the design to reveal the terracotta below. Then the decorator can also fill the various spaces with colored glazes and let them dry until the next firing. The pierced or intaglio decoration technique is applied to the still raw object, in the stage called ‘leather hardness’. The craftsman carves clay with a scalpel and creates flowers, leaves or geometric designs made of large and small circles, rhombuses, lozenges and ellipses. These shapes filter the light of lamps, wall lights and candle holders, creating magical aesthetic effects.

Brush decoration Ceramics

Second Firing

After glazing and decoration, the craftsman proceeds to the second firing of the object to fix the colors and make them brilliant. Enamels and paints melt with heat and subsequently vitrify and waterproof. This second cooking takes place in the oven at a temperature between 850 ° C and 970 ° C. The ceramics are finally ready to show off their fascinating brilliance!

Ceramic objects after the second firing
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