In order to ensure quality and consistency, designs are tested and tweaked until the pieces are comfortable and convenient to use. Design work starts with research and is ultimately executed on the wheel to determine dimensions and the amount of clay needed. Set measurements are required for each piece in order to produce pieces that stack, nest, and pair well. Pieces usually go through about three or four modifications, over one to six months, before the design is perfected. Once the design is finalized, the piece goes into full production.
Basiclai’s raw materials are mined and processed about 400 miles north of the studio, in Alberta, CA by Plainsman Clays, LTD. They produce a consistent product that then allows me to do that same for my customers. Clay is delivered to the studio in an almost ready to use state. To prepare the clay for throwing, it is run through a pug mill designed to mix the clay to a smooth consistency. Because the pug mill extrudes the clay through a circular die, clay is measured (not weighed) to the correct amount needed for each piece.
Glaze development is the trickiest part of making pottery and is a scientific process that requires a lot of testing and perfecting. It took two years to develop and perfect the glazes that are used today.
Pieces are thrown - which means "to form on a potter's wheel" - in batches of 12 - 24, per design, at a time. Throwing in batches is efficient and helps ensure consistency. In a typical day, I usually throw 3-4 batches.
TRIMMING & DRYING
Once the pieces are thrown, they dry for about 24 hours (depending on the weather) until they are just sturdy enough to trim. The trimming stage is where the foot is added and the logo is stamped. The pieces then dry for another 48-72 hours, before being put through the first firing.
The first of the two kiln firings is called the bisque firing. After the pots are trimmed and completely dry, they are loaded into the kiln and fired to about 1830*F. The firing, from start to finish, takes about 24 hours.
WAXING & GLAZING
Once the pieces are bisqued, they are ready to be glazed. Before glaze is applied, the bottom of each piece is coated with a wax resist to ensure that glaze is not applied to any surface that will be directly placed on the kiln shelf. Otherwise, the piece would stick to the shelf. Each piece is then dipped twice into the glaze, to create the signature stripe.
The second of the two kiln firings is called the glaze firing. After the pots are glazed, they are loaded into the kiln and fired to about 2195*F. The firing, from start to finish, takes about 24 hours. Once the glaze firing is complete, the pieces are ready for sale.