Handmade pottery for the thoughtful home.
How It's Made Throwing.jpg

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How It's Made

 

Jack and I created an exhibit for the StudioUs show that describes the making process at Monsoon Pottery. We're reprinting that exhibit here so everyone can get to know our process. 


How It's Made

Each piece at Monsoon Pottery is designed and handmade by Danielle Chutinthranond.

We purchase prepared clays and wedge, throw, trim, glaze, and fire everything in our home studio.

The most common question we hear is: “How long does it take to make something?” It depends. Clay takes a long time to dry and, during rainy weeks, even longer. We fire each piece twice and, including cooling times, each firing can take up to three days. Aside from these fluctuations in drying and firing times, our process can be summarized in these photographs.

Photographs by Jack Li. 

Wedging

Wedging stoneware. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Wedging clay gives it a uniform texture and removes air bubbles. While tiny pockets of air may seem harmless, they can cause a piece to collapse on the wheel or, even worse, explode during a firing. We wedge every piece of clay at least 100 times.

Throwing

Throwing stoneware. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Throwing stoneware. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Wedged clay is centered on the wheel at high speed with plenty of water. Centering aligns the molecules of the clay to make the throwing process easier. Once centered, the clay is shaped into plates, bowls, cups, or vases.

Finished pieces are left to dry until firm and barely damp to the touch (”leather hard”). This can take one day for small pieces or at least a week for plates.

Trimming

Trimming stoneware. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Trimming stoneware. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Trimming, or turning, is the process of refining and finishing the bottom of each piece. While the wheel is spinning, metal tools carve away excess clay and shape a foot.

The piece is signed and left to dry completely, or until “bone dry;” a process that usually takes three days. 

Bisque Firing

Bisque fired porcelain. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Bisque fired porcelain. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Bone dry pieces are carefully loaded into the kiln and fired to cone 06, about 1850 degrees Fahrenheit. Reaching cone 06 takes between 7-10 hours and the kiln takes over a day to cool down.

The bisque firing makes the pieces hard and porous, ideal for absorbing glaze.

Glaze Firing

Glazed pots in the kiln before firing. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Glazed pots in the kiln before firing. Photograph by Jack Li. 

We mix all of our glazes at Monsoon Pottery. Most pieces are dipped into glaze after applying wax resist to areas that come in contact with the kiln shelf.

The kiln is fired to cone 10, about 2350 degrees Fahrenheit, transforming the glaze and clay into the ceramic material you see in this gallery. 

Finished Product

The glazed pot from the previous photograph is transformed by the glaze firing into an object to be enjoyed for generations. Photograph by Jack Li. 

The glazed pot from the previous photograph is transformed by the glaze firing into an object to be enjoyed for generations. Photograph by Jack Li. 

Making pottery involves careful planning, strength, patience, and relinquishing control. A single piece can take weeks to make, but we think it’s worth the wait.