One of the most frequently asked questions from visitors and customers is "How do you make your ceramics?"
It is one of those traditions that hasn't really changed much since biblical times.
1. Artist-monk Father Maur receives a list of requested plaques.
60%-75% of his designs come from customer requests.
2. Father will do rough design and, if he likes it, finished drawing.
3. He then traces his design onto a plaster of Paris mold made here.
4. Father then carves the mold by hand, using a stylus.
5. We use a special clay for our artwork, a blend of clays and grog which, upon firing, yields a most agreeable and natural earthtone and texture. The clay is rolled out to a uniform thickness on the rolling table and then cut for application to the mold.
6. The prepared clay is applied to the mold, the design is transferred to the clay and then the clay slab is most carefully separated from the mold and placed on a batt.
7. The molded clay then goes to the cutting table, where each piece is cut out by hand, using a fine needle and the hook is inserted. The finished, cut-out pieces are called Greenware.
8. The greenware is taken to the drying room where it dries for a week to 10 days.
9. When the greenware is quite dry, the kilnmaster will inspect each piece and place the good pieces on a cart to be moved to the bisque kiln for loading and firing.
10. The bisque kiln is loaded for firing and the kiln is lit. The temperature is raised very slowly and, after 26 hours in the kiln, reaches a temperature of 1750 degrees F. and is then turned off. The greenware has become bisqueware and is now ready for glazing.
11. The bisque is washed and then glazed or painted, one color at a time until completed. We presently use a combination of 18 (waterbased and non-toxic) glazes and slips, only 4 of which we do not compound ouselves.
12. The painted or glazed bisque is now ready for the final firing. The glaze kiln is loaded by the kilnmaster. Stacking a kiln for a glaze-firing is an art in itself. The enormous heat must circulate evenly – or all may be lost. The final firing lasts 11 to 12 hours and reaches a temperature of 2350 Degrees F. before being turned off. In a successful glaze-firing, a near Porcelain quality is achieved.
13. The finished product then goes to the inspection room and is subjected to our careful quality control.although by reason of the nature its manufacture, each piece is unique in coloration, examined for required collectible bearing our name. 1st quality plaques go to our stock room for sale to our loyal mail order and website customers and for resale to hundreds of gift shops throughout the United States and Canada. We even sell to select shops in Europe.
Now that you know how we make them, why not shop online and see our entire line of 1st quality ceramics for your home or office.