Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Making Pots in Malaysia

Unlike Vietnam and Thailand Malaysian pots are machine made and the kilns are predominately oil or gas fired. Gas and oil fired kilns reach much higher temperatures than the old wood fired kilns making them ideal for Glazed pots.
The process starts with clay production:

The clay is cut using a wire into slabs then moved over to the hydraulic presses:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Making Pots in Vietnam

Vietnam still make pots by hand using time old traditions.Vietnam is famous for making red/orange/brownie coloured terracotta pots down in the Mekong Delta, which is a few hours out of Saigon. The craftsman can turn a bit of clay into a master piece. The pots are fired using big bee hive shaped kilns which use Rice husks as fuel for the kilns.

The process starts with craftsmen making a negative blank from Plaster of Paris, this blank is carved then more Plaster of Paris is poured over the blank to make the mould (the pattern is then on the inside of the mould).

Clay is processed into a big slab then a wire is used to slice off layers to be pushed into the mould.

Finished moulds ready for use.
The moulds are split in two and big rubber bands are used to hold them together.

The Mould has had clay pushed into it, once dry, the mould is removed.

Another big pot with 1/2 the mould removed.

 The mould has been removed, the pot is left to dry before firing.

 Worker pouring glaze over the pot before firing. Vietnam does not make a lot of Glazed Pots. They do not have gas fired kilns to produce the heat required for consistent quality.

Beehive Kilns down on the Mekong. This style of kiln has been used for hundreds of years.
 View from the inside of the Kiln. The Kiln has a hole in the top for the excess heat to escape. The pots are stacked in the Kiln ready for firing.
 Rice husks are tipped into a big tray and trickle down into the fire. The fire burns for at least 24 hours firing the pots.

Traditional Mekong Terracotta, you can tell by the colour the red/orange. The colour varies depending where the pot was in the Kiln, i.e. close to the fire it will be darker and further away it will be lighter.

By combining dark and light coloured clay and adding a few etchings, the look of the pot can be quite different.

 Another look is swirling different coloured clays

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Terracotta Garden Pots Are Made In Thailand

Three countries Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand all manufacture Terracotta Pots great products all made using different processes the only things in common are all the factories are extremely hot and dirty (hey they are making master pieces out of clay).

Thai pots are still made using time old tried and tested traditional methods. Pots are hand crafted (thrown on a wheel) the only thing that has changed over the centuries is the wheels now run on power. Pots are generally fired in traditional wood fired kilns (not too many modern gas fired kilns). Wood fired kilns do not reach the temperature of the modern gas fired kilns so you don't see too many glazed pots the majority of pots are painted (washed) using house paints and waxed after firing. The result is quite stunning and very different from the other countries.

The process of mixing the clay is pretty much the same in all countries starts with a pile of dirt (clay) which is crushed, blended and mixed through several machines ending up in long rolls cut to size (depending on size of pots being made) I have a movie I took in Malaysia which covers it off.

Even through the pots are hand thrown the craftsmen and they are craftsmen trust me it is harder than it looks, each worker produces hundreds of pots a day. Below movies show two craftsmen throwing pots (they did not speed up for the movie they work at this pace all day long! Note the metal rod on the side of the wheel this is the guide to show height etc of the pot being made


The next step is the green pots are spread out to dry where shapes can be changed pots etched  as per below pictures
Round Pots being reshaped and etched

Green pots drying 

Green pots covered in plastic to help keep clean and dry

Once the pots have dried they are the stacked into the kilns ready for firing. This kiln has been open for over 18 hours and is almost empty, It was still very hot inside

Door to Kiln all Pots are loaded and unloaded through this door
Inside the Kiln

Side view of kiln approx 20 metres long

Once Kiln is loaded the door os sealed with bricks and plastered over with clay, fires are set along the side of the kiln it takes upwards of 24 hours to fire the pots

Once the Pots are fired they are Painted/Washed and waxed
Add caption
Painting and washing

Finished product