The making of blue pottery involves various steps and it’s a long process.
Preparing the dough:
Firstly the dough is prepared with raw materials like quartz powder (available in Jaipur and in powdered form), cullet (the small chunks of glass are washed first and are grinded later to make glass powder. It is sieved to avoid bigger particles.), saji, katira gond, and multani mitti are mixed together properly to a non-sticky dough and kept for few hours before using.
Making the mold:
Molds are made from Plaster of Paris (POP). Molds are made of desired shapes and sizes, and then dried. To avoid breakings and due to limitations of the use of dough, it is casted in molds. One or two molds are used while making certain products, like for a vase - the castings are attached to each other with little dough and water. The molds if maintained properly can be used for more numbers of times.
Casting the product:
A good amount of dough is flattened to a round roti like shape of approximate 1cm thickness with a flattening tool. The flattened dough is placed on mold and tucked in nicely to get the shape. The mold with dough in it is then filled with burnt wood dust and pressed gently so that dough takes the exact shape of the mold. The extra edge of dough that comes out of mold is cut using a knife. Mold is turned upside down and it is slowly removed. The product is left for drying for 1-2 days along with burnt wood dust in itself. Once the product dries the burnt wood dust is removed. With the small broom excess dust is brushed off from the product. Products like vases are provided with base to give them stability. The base is attached to the product with some amount of dough and sprinkled with water to make it leather hard. Once the product is completely done it is left for drying for 1-2 days.
The rough edge of the product is smoothened by rubbing it on stone gently. After this, the product is rubbed with the sandpaper to remove grains and to make surface of product even. The finished product now has to be painted before which it undergoes another smoothening process. The product is coated with, dough mixed with water to fill the pores and later the product is dried and rubbed with sandpaper again. The same step is repeated for one more coat. After second round of smoothening the products are dipped in mixture of quartz powder, powdered glass, Maida (edible flour) and water. It is evenly coated and kept for drying. Once the product is dried it is rubbed with sandpaper evenly and made ready for painting.
The products are ready to get painted after the smoothening process is done. Artisans follow or sometimes come up with their own designs. All products are painted by hand. First the outlines are drawn with the fine brush or custom-made artist brush. If the product is circular shape then the outline is easy to give, product is just placed on potter’s wheel and by touching the tip of brush to the product a neat line could be drawn. After the outlines, colors are filled in the spaces and that complete designs.
The colors that are used are oxides and Ferro metal. The oxides will be available in the market. It is mixed with edible gum, which acts as a binding agent. Once done with outlines, it is then filled with colors.
A special glaze is prepared using different raw material like powdered glass, borax, zinc oxide, potassium nitrate, and boric acid. These raw materials are heated at a high temperature; melting point is reduced by borax. When everything is done, mixture is put to cold water to cool and it splits to splinters. Splinters are collected and then grounded. The grounded frit is mixed with water to form glaze, the coat of product should not be too thick or thin, and it should be evenly coated. Too thick will give matte finish and when it is too thin it will leave the pores exposed. The products are dipped in glaze and left for drying. Once it is dried its ready to get in furnace.
The products are kept inside a furnace to dry. The products are properly stacked inside so that it doesn’t touch each other. The kiln is closed from top and heating is done from below using wood and charcoal, and an even circulation of heat within the kiln is maintained by leaving the center core open for heat to move freely. The firing takes place for 4-5 hours and the firing has to be controlled to be gradual because changes in temperature might cause cracks in products. The kiln is left for cooling for 2-3 days and then products are taken out. The products are separated from the cracked ones, the final ones are cleansed and packed for the market.