Once the kiln is unpacked the gleaming and glossy pieces are checked for any faults. Items that pass the quality control test are called “firsts” while imperfect items are termed “seconds”. Depending on the degree of fault, seconds will then be sold at discounted prices at our factory outlet.
Powder and water are mixed in a blunger to make liquid clay, which is called slip. The slip is then poured into plaster of Paris moulds which absorb all excess water. As it dries, the clay shrinks away from the mould, allowing for easy release. This method is used for more complex or asymmetrical shapes such as vases and platters.
In this method, a ball of clay is placed in a mould on the jigger machine. The mould is then rotated and a tool is used to press and scrape away excess clay into the correct shape as it spins. This method is used for simple concave shapes like mugs, cups and small bowls.
Once removed from the mould, seams of clay are left. These need to be scraped off, first with a sharp tool and then sponged over for smoothness.
The “greenware” (unfired clay item) is painted with underglazes and intricate patterns are applied with thicker 3D paints, which produce raised dots giving the ceramics a wonderfully tactile feel.
The finished pieces are then fired in a kiln to a temperature of 900 degrees Celsius. This hardens the paint and ensures it stays fast on the ceramics.
Once the pieces are removed from the kiln, and excess dust is brushed off, they are then dipped in a glaze. The glaze appears milky at first, but achieves a transparent sheen once baked. The glaze is wiped off the base otherwise the item would stick to the kiln shelf during the firing process.
The glaze-coated items are then re-packed into a kiln and fired to 1170 degrees Celsius. The process takes three days as the ceramics should not heat up or cool down too quickly for fear of cracking.
Packing and Sorting Orders
Pieces are then selected for the various orders and carefully wrapped in bubble wrap before being placed in padded boxes, ready to ship to their destinations.