The Work Process

It is the raw material for ceramics, and the base of the work. It looks like everyday mud, and actually there is clay soil which can be used for utensils and even fired. To verify the quality of the clay and its resistance over time, we buy it in stores, where we know its exact composition.

Getting Ready
In working with clay, it is important the material is flexible and with the right amount of water. Testing for it is easy: a soft squeeze of the material will show if the clay is sticky. If not, it is ready. It is highly important to keep the clay moist, and we do that with a wet sponge.

The Potter's Wheel
This is the main instrument for creating ceramics. Today, most wheels are electronically powered, with a pedal for spinning. In the past, the wheels were powered manually or by foot.
The spinning is essential to the process of making pottery, as the clay transforms under the potter's hands.

The Work Process
We take a mass of clay and knead it for a couple of minutes to release any air bubbles locked in it. From it, we extract the amount of clay we want, place it on the wheel, and here we go.
First, the clay needs to be precisely centered on the wheel, a process that requires great skill. Then we can start a hole in the middle, widen it to the right diameter, and extract the sides with our hands from the inside and out. This complexity of this process depends on the size of the wanted pot. After it is finished, we gently separate the base from the wheel using a string and leave it to dry.

First Firing
Loading the items into the furnace requires extreme care, as they are very fragile. First firing is a slow gradual process, which must be controlled. Today most furnaces have a computerized control unit that enables us to determine the general temperature, the heating rate, the final temperature, and the duration of final stage. The temperature needed for the initial burn is between 900-1000 degrees Celsius. The clay is formed into pottery around 600 degrees Celsius. During this 8-hour process the molecules rearrange irreversibly in the material.
Twelve additional hours are required for the furnace to cool before we can open it again. Sometimes the cooling process is also gradual and controlled.

After the first firing we can hold the items safely. This is when we add glazing, which is a glass coating that gives the pot an impressive spectacular appearance. The elements that determine the transparency and the texture of the glazing can be purchased in ceramics shops in different powders. These powders are mixed in different ratios according to the desired result. Water is then added to make the glaze. Customary glazing includes:
1. Dipping the pot in the glaze bucket
2. Paint-brushing
3. Spraying with a spray gun.
The glazing enables the use of an item for food and makes it very easy to clean.

Second Firing
The temperature for second firing is between 1000-1300 degrees Celsius. As in the first firing, heating rates and temperatures must be fully controlled. When the firing is done, opening the furnace should be avoided until it is no more than 200 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, the items might crack or even break.

Our Work is Done!
Opening the furnace in an indescribable experience – watching how a moist grey lump of clay has transformed into a finished beautiful ceramic pot, that is the joy of creation at its full.

Kibbutz Kalia, North of the Dead Sea micha: 054-4876329 atalya: 054-4876326 site by: adi linial