How it’s made…

When you think about the background of your crockery, it’s really quite remarkable!

So here it is in a nutshell, (for Earthenware clay at least – as there are many different types of clay that get fired at different temperatures!):

  • Clay gets dug up from the Earth.
  • Wet clay is used to make shapes by being processed with water and poured into moulds, or by being hand-built or thrown on a wheel.
  • Shape is dried to ‘bone-dry’ state.
  • Each piece is fired slowly in a kiln to reach its highest firing temperature, over 1100ºC and then allowed to cool gradually. This is called Bisque at this stage and while really strong, is still a little brittle and quite porous.
  • Although I sometimes do make pieces from the beginning of the process with clay, due to limited resources on space and time, I mostly buy in a carefully selected range of Bisque shapes and continue the process from that stage.
  • All Bisque pieces are sanded and prepped prior to decoration to ensure a smooth surface.
  • The decoration process involves hand-drawing the design on the Bisque with felt-tip (which burns away and disappears when in the kiln), sometimes using hand-made stencils for repetitive patterns and stenciled lettering. To achieve a great depth of colour, up to 4 layers or coats of glaze are applied, by hand, using a paintbrush. This process can take in excess of 3 hours for big/complex designs!
  • Once the Bisque is decorated with glazes, it is then hand-dipped in a clear-glaze, and then fired again to around 1000ºC to ensure that the resulting ceramic piece is finished to a high standard, and durable enough for every day use. 
  • The entire firing process can take over 32 hours for each piece!

So, next time you make a cup of tea or get a plate out of the cupboard for a sandwich, you can marvel at the natural elements of earth, water and fire within it!