Production

This section explains how Marie makes the ceramic pieces that forms her permanent collection with the wheel throwing technique summarized in 10 steps.

Poterie Bleu Marie, céramique bleue, Saint-Vallier, Québec, Canada - Bleu Marie Pottery, blue ceramics, Saint-Vallier, Quebec, Canada

Introduction

Making a ceramic object needs a lot of time.  About a month to make a bowl from a raw lump of clay.  In her studio, Marie works every week on dozens of pieces that have reached a step or another.

 


Design

To add a new item to a collection, one must draw it first in order to set up its proportions, measures and features. And so, when one makes it, it will meet one's idea more easily. One also carefully files these measures in order to be able to replicate the items.


Weighing and kneading

Once the pieces measures are decided, one weighs the clay lumps that will form them before to throw them. One also knead each lump in order to homogenize it properly and prepare the clay for the throwing.


Wheel throwing

Once the pieces are weighed and kneaded, one throws them one by one accordingly to the decided measures. One must first center the lump, and then open it and rise it. Once the basic piece is risen, one can shape the side and the lip.


Trimming and signing

When the thrown pieces have started to dry, one can trim the bottoms. One must then put back the piece on the wheel and trim the bottom with a trimming tool, a kind of hollow knife. When the bottom is trimmed, one signs it with a stamp.


Assembling

When the pieces are done, before they dry out completely, one can assemble them. Each item has its own features that must be taken care of: handles to settle, holes to pierce, spout to form, designs to carve, lips to trim, knobs to throw, etc.


Drying

Once the pieces are finished, one lets them dry for a least a week. Those with assembled pieces, such as handles, must dry even slower under a plastic layer to make sure the joints don’t split.


First firing

When the pieces are completely dry, one fires them for the first time in an electric kiln. The first firing lasts 8 hours and reaches 1728oF. It allows the pieces to become solid but still porous. It makes it easier to glaze the pieces afterwards.


Glazing

After the first firing, one waxes the bottoms of the pieces and glaze them. The wax prevents the glaze from sticking to the bottom, which prevents the piece to merge with the kiln shelf during the second firing. Pieces are dip glazed with pliers or by hands.


Second firing

Once the pieces are glazed and the bottoms all cleaned up, one fires them for a second time. This firing will reach 2232oF and lasts 24 hours. With a very slow cooling, this firing will allow the color to be brighter and the glaze to be shinier.


Finish

When the pieces are fired, one sand the bottoms so they don’t scratch the tables. One finally put up the accessories: pouring spout for oil bottles, cork lids for maple syrup jar, chains for the necklaces, bamboo handles for the tea pots, etc. Voilà!


Poterie Bleu Marie, céramique bleue, Saint-Vallier, Québec, Canada - Bleu Marie Pottery, blue ceramics, Saint-Vallier, Quebec, Canada

Conclusion

Hoping that this section will make you want to learn more about the ceramics of yesterday and today, from here and there, and contribute to change your perspective on the more common objects that there are such as bowls, plates and cups.


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Recycling the clay

As long as it’s not fired, clay is reusable infinitely. And so, one keeps the throwing mud and the trimming chips, rehydrates them and decants them before to knead it again. The clay must rest for at least a month in a sealed container before to be ready for throwing.


Glaze making

The glaze is made of powdered minerals and water mixed and well sieved. During the firing, they react with temperature, oxygen and the clay body and melt and vitrify to create a shiny colored layer on the clay.