Monarch Ceramics Craftsmanship
At Monarch Ceramics, the integrity of each of our unique pieces is of the upmost importance to us. Many people don’t know the amount of work, and love, that goes into each and every one of our pieces. We spend hours ensuring that each piece is the perfect piece for you, the client. Making ceramics isn’t easy, and here we wanted to show you a tiny insight to how each piece is made.
Prepare the Clay
The clay is usually prepared for forming by kneading the clay into a spiral or ram’s head shape. It looks a lot like kneading bread but it’s a different process. Wedging clay is often done to “wake up” the clay, to remove air bubbles trapped in the clay, or to mix wetter and dryer clay together.
Centre the Clay
After sitting down at the wheel with a ball of clay, centring is the first, and unfortunately, the most difficult step to master. Beginning with throwing the ball of clay as close to the centre of the wheel as possible, you then must dip your hands in water and begin pushing the clay towards the centre of the wheel to form a cone shape. Once in a cone shape, the clay is then compressed back down to the wheel to form what’s called a “puck” shape. Usually this is repeated about three times to get all the clay through the process.
Open the Form
One finger is now placed on the top centre of the puck and gently pressed down towards the wheel head. This forms a hole in the middle, it is important to leave a few centimetres of clay at the bottom to form the base of the shape. Here it is important to note whether you are leaving enough clay to cut a foot or not as well as making sure that the internal shape matches the one you have in your mind. For example. A cylinder must have a sharp internal angle while a bowl will have a rounded edge. This is the part of the process which is most likely to elicit a ‘wow!’ response.
Lift the Walls
Using your fingers to lift the walls will give the form height. You achieve this by compressing the clay at the base of the walls and keeping a consistent width as you life to bring the clay up to form the walls of the vessel.
Shape the Form
Once the form is at a certain height, it can be turned into all sorts of shapes. From rounded bowls to straight sided cylinders, vases to bottles and jugs. This is where the form is most fragile and likely to fall, while also being an integral place to put personal flare onto your creation. A form that has its shape changed too many times is likely to collapse so it is important not to play around too much.
Cut and Lift Your Creation off the Wheel
The final step in the throwing process is cutting the form from the wheel. This is done by using a cutting wire. The form is either slid off using water or carefully lifted using dry hands. At this point the form is extremely malleable and likely to collapse.
Now, we leave the form to go ‘leather hard’, and once there, the clay can then be trimmed to cut away extra pieces of the clay to reveal a foot if desired. Other additions that can be made at this stage include handles, slip decoration, and decorative carving. Once the form is complete, we then leave it to dry completely, and then they are fired once, glazed, and then fired again.