The ceramic


Ash enamels
Procces of elabotration
My pieces




The ceramic enamels are a mineral dust mixture warmed up until fusion. To create enamel you have to bring together some rocks and crush them until the impalpable thing, same as the talc powder we can found in a can. Normally the finished phase required is found in the quarries of ground extraction and milling; later on we just have to go to the ceramic product distributors to be served and delivered these clean, packed and well weighted raw materials. It seems clear the difficulty we would find as “potters” to make this job by ourselves. Well over 1000 years from now the Chinese realized that plants can really make this work for us. Plants manage themselves to gather from the Earth the minerals they need to constitute themselves, to grow and make circulate the sap. Thus, each species creates its own mineral composition and therefore its specific enamels. In China these enamels, enhanced with simple and elegant forms, reached their perfection during the Song dynasty. The fact that from the weakest thing, the leftovers after the end, what remains without life by definition, appears a most colourful and unalterable precious material, has given rise in its native East to beautiful poetic creations, the same as nowadays in our context it has given rise to suggestive, spiritual and religious interpretations: “From the chaos of the Beginning of time to the divine Creation: from the dust of the ground to the moulded form; from the humble matter to the glorious resurrection; from the poor clay to the brilliant and colourful glass….”



Arriba Procces of elaboration

THE WATER: The phase of Earth and water is similar to any other turned pottery. I use stoneware and porcelain for ashes to support the fusion temperature. The stoneware gets dressed in dark colors, of iron. The porcelain takes only ash habits making more visible the delicate colours above white backgrounds. All the pieces are turned on the lathe because the circle centers and I get lost or absent very easily. When pieces begin to dry you should carve a base on them which will help to hold them during the enameling and on which parts will lean in the furnace. Before burning them (to 950º) they must be completely dry. Otherwise, they would explode during the process which lasts for eight


THE ASH: Once finished this previous phase the long, laborious process of ash preparation begins. First step is checking what to burn or what has already been burned. If you have some contacts in the fields or in the countryside everything results much easier. Once the ash has been obtained from one single species of plant, it must be cleaned up and sift it to take out all that rests which has not been reduced to ash. You must wash, grind and dry it completely. After this you should combine it with different proportions of two of its own components: the silica and the alumina. These tests (of which I usually perform twenty by ash) will show us the right formula to obtain enamels that melt to the baking temperature, which do not drop or slip and that look pretty

naranjas sarmientos cenizas

THE ENAMELING The ash is hydrophilic but insoluble, it likes water but water cannot reduce it. So, adding ash into water, stirring well and immediately bathing all burnt mud pieces in this suspension, they get ready to pass onto the furnace or cabin. Since water evaporates quickly the mineral or ash dust gets slightly adhere to the piece


THE FIRE These enamels need 1280º to get fused and vitrified. They also need to be burnt in oxygen reduction conditions, i.e. they must change, while in the cabin, from being oxides into silicates. For this all you need is closing partially the entrance of oxygen in the cabin. The flames, that need the air to burn, will get it from the chemical composition of the enamel. At this very moment pieces will be dressed with many colours. My first baking works looked like “black & white” films. This process of the fire lasts about nine hours. Shapes or forms are simple and most of the parts created are to be used. Colours are produced mainly from iron; with few exceptions (cobalt and copper) they darken the stoneware and brighten the porcelain. video

terminadas terminado


ampliada Arriba