Perhaps the most suggestive part of our workmanship, that of the clay which is worked with the lathe manually giving the desired shape, other processing techniques are molding through plaster casts after having created the original shape or casting, a new technique which making the clay liquid allows you to obtain very precise three-dimensional shapes.
Shaped, molded or cast objects require a drying time that allows the residual water contained in the clay to evaporate . This process can occur naturally by exposing the objects to the air, or forced through the use of dryers.
3. First Cooking
Once dried, the products are placed in an electrically or gas-powered oven. The first firing lasts approximately 12 hours and will bring the objects to a temperature between 980/1000 C°.
Subsequently, to avoid damage or injury, gradual cooling is essential, which occurs naturally thanks to the dispersion of heat; the cooling time varies depending on the size of the objects and the mass that has been cooked, on average between 8/12 hours.
Once the first firing phase is completed, the objects move on to the enamelling phase which is carried out manually by immersing the object in a solution of enamel powder mixed with water.
The enamel is made up of a composition of glass, opacifiers and fluxes very finely ground in a special mill , in the composition ratio given by the temperature to which it must be subjected. Enamelling can also be carried out with an airbrush in a special booth. Enamelling is a delicate phase for ceramics as it will serve to prepare the surface of the object on which the decoration will then be applied.
In ceramic craftsmanship the decoration is carried out by hand by skilled decorators , capable of expressing decorations applied with appropriate brushes on the surface of the glaze in order to cover the object with fascinating decorations.
For this purpose, ceramic colors made up of mineral or metal oxides mixed with fluxes are used, in the right quantity related to the temperature of the second firing. The greater or lesser harmonization between the decoration applied, the use of color and the shape of the object will then constitute the elements of qualitative evaluation of the artefacts. Fascinating are some curious changes between the color applied before cooking and the subsequent result after cooking (for example, copper green appears black before going into the oven).
6. Second cooking
After decoration, the object is placed back in the oven to be subjected to a second firing which in 8/10 hours will bring the objects to a temperature of 920/950 C° with a further cooling time of approximately 18/24 hours . The result is a highly valuable artefact, known as majolica, which has made Caltagirone one of the major production centers and in any case the most famous in the world.