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Technique: birth of pottery and a tool

If you are interested in a few words about the preparatory technique of ceramics, you have come to the right place. Here is the birth of pottery.

At the very beginning, clay bread, here porcelain. Then it is necessary to define the weight of earth necessary for turning a piece, approximately 300 g for an espresso cup for example, and up to 2 or 3 kg, or even more for the largest pieces.

After weighing, it is the stage of mixing the earth. To soften the clay it is important to knead it sufficiently to make it 'plastic', i.e. ready for turning. This step, which may seem futile, is on the contrary very useful: it is what will determine our way of shaping the piece. These 3 porcelain balls are carefully kneaded to be soft under the fingers and above all to have no air bubbles. A bubble in a room and bam it bursts during cooking! By dragging neighboring pieces onto the oven tray into its misfortune... So patience and firmness for this step.

Now it's the filming stage. Challenges appear with every gesture... The power plant is essential to be able to work the clay with centrifugal force.

The gestures are precise, delicate and firm at the same time, the potter gently imposes the shape of the piece, also respecting each step. Going too fast is always a bad calculation! Clay molecules have memory, and poor turning causes the piece to deform during firing.

The next day, the final manufacturing step itself with turning: shaping the base of the ceramic. This finishing step refines the curve and shape of the foot. Be careful to proceed horizontally to keep the piece laying flat!

Then comes the time for drying. Drying is very dependent on the weather. She plays a big role in the potter's life. Rainy weather, longer drying, dry drying weather to monitor.

Once completely dry, the piece is baked in the 'biscuit' oven, that is to say at 900 degrees for almost 9 hours. It is finally ready to be decorated. Here a brush decoration which will call for a transparent enamel to bring out the features. Then it's the glazing stage, here by dipping. The enamel, which follows a very precise recipe, is composed of raw materials assembled with a coloring powder. Or not when the enamel is white. The potter adds the water needed to create a consistency of 'crepe batter'. The bucket of enamel thus prepared is ready for dipping the piece. Another drying time and then cooking will come. This time at 1280 degrees for stoneware and porcelain. The heating protocol must be respected, with the levels which allow good melting of the silica, alumina and other components. 24 hours later the oven is opened and the surprise is to discover its shiny and finished pieces!

Have you ever heard ceramics sing when they come out of the kiln? No I guess, it's a privilege of the magical moment... I made a video capsule that you will soon find here, it is currently being edited.


And to finish this article on technique, welcome to the manufacture of my tools themselves, here a spinning wheel. I was able to learn this work during my apprenticeship in Japan.

First of all, you need to heat a steel bar 2 cm wide and 20 cm long to white heat. Here it is in the eye of the oven and heats up to almost 1000 degrees.

Then armed with gloves, a hammer and an anvil, I flatten this red-hot iron. The gestures are precise to soften the steel and to give the primary shape of the tool: apply a right angle to it.

The spinning wheel (which forms a right angle) is then refined on the grinder, sharpened to precise angles to become an effective tool. Be careful, every gesture counts. The turnip is almost ready to form the base of the ceramics.

It's quite crazy to see hard steel bend to the desired shape by the action of heat. Here again we witness the transformation of matter. The ancestral art of fire is a tool in itself, a heritage that changed everything for food and for the tool.

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