CAN YOU MAKE ME A PLATE THIS AFTERNOON kind of blog post | TECHNIQUES, EQUIPMENT, ACCESSORIES
Hey there. After a long time, I decided to write a blog post. Please be kind with my english, it is very rusty! haha
I will write about the proces – how long does it take to make a plate or a mug? If your answer is half an hour or 2 hours or maybe 3 days, you are wrong!
Let me start at the beginning. How to develop ideas? Well, I do it during a sleep (casually waking up with an idea on my mind) or I look for it in the nature. Also Pinterest helps very much, but I must say that nature is the best inspiration. It keeps your mind open. Then you can have a sketchbook or just random sticky notes all over your place. As you wish. I am not gonna tell you which method I use, because it is very artsy 😉
It is nice to have a studio and equipment and accessories. I started doing it in my kitchen, but with more and more orders, I needed a space. So I made myself a small studio (kind of) in one of our empty rooms in our house. Now I have 5 out of 12 rooms in the house (thanks mom). It is also important to have a safety equipment, because of some toxic materials (glazes, dust…). Table, shelves, rolling pins, knives, carving tools, wires, sponges, pins, loop tools, hole cutters, modelling tools, rubber kidneys, metal scrapers, moulds, stamps, brushes, banding wheel and so on and on. This is just for the beginning. First you will need all of these, to start making ceramics. Oh and also glazes and the most important – KILN! Which is couple of thousands euros. Just saying 😉 I have an electric one, top load. And the most important question answered: NO, you cannot use your oven at home. The stoeware needs around 1300°C to fire.
Everything we need is here – studio, equiment, accessories. Now we also need some clay. It is usually packed in 10kg or 12,5kg packages. I use german or italian one, mostly stoneware. It is stronger than the one you used in the grammar school (earthenware). Other types that I know are porcelain (I made some mugs out of it, it is also nice!), paper clay, bone china…
First we have to prepare clay. We cut a piece of clay from 10kg package with a wire and then we have to knead it. I use spiral kneading. On the picture (up there) I use a small piece. It is usually much bigger (for bigger pieces). This takes around 10min. Before that, you also have to prepare tools and equipment. This also takes some time.
If I make a bowl with a ˝pinch˝ technique, I make a ball (after kneading) and start digging a hole in it with my finger. Then I start pinching it into a bowl or mug shape. This takes around 15-30min. Depends on the size, feeling and carefulness. Then I paint it with an engobe. I usually use a small sponge, because I love the texture. Sometimes I also make some patterns with a loop tool.
If I make a plate, the first step is the same (kneading, equipment etc.). Then I make a ball and start to rolling it with a wooden rolling pin to make a slab. It is recommended to use some piece of fabric to put it inbetween the roller and clay.
After making a slab (it has to be the same thickness all over the slab, so I usually use some wooden sticks to ensure that), I cut out a circle and soften it with a sponge. This takes 15-30min. Also depends on the size, feeling and carefulness.
To make it round, I use styrofoam spheres. Slab has to be put over very gently and slow, that it bends evenly. Then it has to rest for 1-6 hours over this mould. It depends on a clay (hardness, pieces in it etc.). After this time, then I take it off and put it on the wooden board.
Time for artistic moments! Colouring and carving and brushes and engobe and everything – it is time do decorate this plate! As you know, I like to draw on the clay or just throw some engobe to make a splash effect.
Ok, now we have a mug or a plate. It has to air dry for 4-7 days (on a wooden board). It depends on temperature, moisture, season, weather, thickness and so on and on.
Then it comes to first firing at lower temperature (980°C) – BISQUE FIRING. It lasts around 24 hours (firing and cooling down before taking it out of the kiln). Now we have to glaze it. I usually use transparent dipping glaze. You also have brush on glazes, but I do not use them very often. This also takes around 10-15 min to prepare and to glaze a piece.
Now we have to put it in the kiln again, but this time on higher temperature to set the glaze – GLAZE FIRING. This takes also around 24 hours and I mostly put the program on 1300 degrees.
Loading and unloading also takes time and very important, I use special protective gloves when taking the fired pieces out. This is usually at around 100°C (do not open it before that, because your glaze might crack).
I am sure you calculated a bit, but to make one piece, it usually takes 10-14 days to finish and at least one hour, if you think about just one piece altogether. Please know that this is a slow process and everything is handmade and unique 😉
Feel free to contact me for more information or maybe to make a custom order! <3
Photo: Uroš S. Abram (@slikaj.se)