Ceramic Production Studio

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Ceramic Production Studio

Dishes Drying in the Sun

Hands are never without work in San Antonio de Ibarra, a mountainside village overlooking the city of Ibarra in Ecuador’s Imbabura provence.  In May 2014 Circle on the Square teamed up with Ecuadorian painter Diego Buitron  who graciously helped us find our way through San Antonio’s roads to find places hard to discover by anyone unfamiliar with the village.  We traveled to a workshop where the artisans create pots and bakeware by hand using molds.

Shaping Clay in a Mold

First the clay is mined, but as we found out it is  actually not clay that is taken from the deposit areas, but large rocks that must be carried in strong sacks, put on  a truck  and delivered to the workshop to begin the process of creating the clay.  The large rocks must be pulverized and ground down to a powder before water is added to make the proper consistency for pressing the clay into molds. Exactly the right amount of water must be used or the process will not be successful. The artisans know from years in the business how to arrive at the proper consistency.

When the clay is ready it is pressed into molds and then workers use a series of tools as well as their fingers to shape and smooth the inside of each vessel.  Once the piece is completely shaped each mold is placed in the sun to dry for a day or two before the clay dries enough to easily be released from its plaster mold.  The pieces are then fired.

Kiln Room

While there once were hundreds of such studios in generations past, only two studios remain active in San Antonio de Ibarra at present day.  The studio is a family owned business which manufactures pots and cookware for custom orders by hotels and restaurants.  Few people get to tour the studio, so I felt quite privileged to be allowed to visit and I think our tour group enjoyed the place as much as I did.









One Comment

  1. Thanks so much for the information, Julie! I was not aware that San Antonio was the home to potters and such…because i have always sought out the wood carvers in their ‘native habitat’ and so enjoyed them.

    Also, i never heard of making clay…Have always seen it in the pliable state and assumed it came from clay banks such as we had in Western Pennsylvania and was used by potters throughout the tri-state area for many years. Great to know this!

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