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How Ceramics from Toledo, Spain are Made

Spain is famous for it’s handmade ceramics, mostly for the pieces that come from Toledo such as the ones that we offer here on our website, fromspain.com.  We are happy to share with you the true artisan process that takes place just to create one single plate, bowl, mug or decorative item….

First the clay is extracted from the shoreline of the Tajo River.  It is taken back to the artists workshop where it is cleaned of impurities and then mixed with water to make the clay suitable for ceramic making.

Clay retrieved from the Tajo river shoreline

With the artisans bare hands and the help of a potter’s wheel, the clay is molded until it has the desired shape… A pitcher, a vase, a plate….

Making Ceramics in Spain

These clay objects require extra care during the drying process. The clay is left to air dry. If the weather is good, the ceramic dries more quickly. If it is damp, the drying process is exceptionally slow. Either way, the process needs to be done slowly to avoid cracks in the ceramic.

Ceramics Drying in the Spanish Sun

When the ceramic is sufficiently dried, it is placed in an 1100 degrees Celsius oven for the first of several kiln firings.

First Firing in Kiln

This first cooking results in a ceramic that is hard enough to easily handle. The ceramic has passed from a raw piece of ceramic to what is called “bizcochada” or bisque ceramic.  At this point the ceramic can receive it’s first glazing by placing it into a large bath which varies depending on the finish that is desired. Some bathes are white, some cream colored, etc..

First Ceramic Glazing

When this glaze is dry to the touch, the artists are able to being decorating it, completely by hand, using paint brushes and lead-free metallic oxide glazes. Here is where the painter can be creative and make each piece of ceramic completely unique.

Hand-Painting the Ceramics

The next step is to fire the decorated ceramic at a temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius, more or less, depending upon the type of glaze used.

Painted Ceramics in the Kiln

After the firing, we can see that the colors have changed. Lilac becomes blue, brown is now green…

Final Product Spanish Ceramics

The result is a beautiful piece of ceramic that can be enjoyed in our home, equally as decoration as on a table.

 

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