Ceramics - Handbuilding Techniques

Handbuilding Techniques

Handbuilding is one of the oldest pottery technique. It involves creating shapes by using hands, fingers, and basic tools. Pinching the clay, coil building, and slab building are the most common ways to create volumes. Traditionally the shaped object is then enriched with engraved decoration created by hand or with tolls on the raw clay. Hand techniques allow mixing ceramics with other materials as well such as paper pulp, which offers extra stability.

Research and Design - Handbuilding Techniques
Research and Design - Wiggle Max Lamb Bitossi


Throwing pottery is a very common way to shape clay into round ceramic ware. While the art piece spins on its axis the craftsman shape it with his hands and simple tools. The wheel may also be used for applying incised decoration on the final piece.

Cearmics - Casting / Slipcasting main image

Casting / Slipcasting

Casting and slip casting are techniques generally used to form complex shapes and involve the use of a mould. In Slip casting, a liquid clay body is poured into openable plaster moulds. A layer of clay forms on the inside walls of the mould while drying. In order to create a hollow cast, once the plaster has absorbed most of the liquid on the outer layer, the remaining liquid is poured off. After most water has been absorbed, the cast piece is removed from the mould and allowed to dry out for several more hours.

Research and Design - Casting/Slipcasting
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Research and Design - Press Mold Techniques and Ram pressing

Press Mold Techniques
and Ram pressing

Plaster or metal press moulds are used when planning to produce multiples of a ceramic form or when making raised decorations on a ceramic piece. This technique involves pushing clay into a mould by hand or by a mechanical/hydraulic press. RAM presses are used to press clay to create plates, bowls and 3d tiles. The clay body dried or wet is placed in between two porous moulds, and vertical movement of the moulds presses the body into the required shape.

Cearmics - Press Mold Techniques and Ram pressing  image 2
Research and Design - RAM presses
Cearmics - Press Mold Techniques and Ram pressing  image 4


Palazzo Montedoria, designed by Giò Ponti in 1971, is covered with green ceramic tiles which are characterized by a smooth diamond-cut surface.
When the external façade needed renovation, our ceramic partner provided the reproduction of the porcelain stoneware tiles: four different types of ceramic tiles, sized cm 6×19, relief, low-relief, high low-relief and flat.
The special glazes used in this renovation were specifically chosen to recreate the erosion caused by the weather. In addition, these tiles were produced in accordance with a hand-crafted technique which makes the material heterogeneous, both in the effects on the surface and in the dimension of the pieces.

Research and Design - Extrusion


Extrusion is a process widely used to produce ceramic components with a uniform cross-section and a large length-to-diameter ratio. The clay compound is forced through a die of the desired cross-section. The technique can be performed with simple hand-powered tools or with automatic machines.

Extrusion process
Research and Design - Teamwork
Research and Design - Extrusion machine
Research and Design - Extrusion Process
Research and Design - Glazing


Glazing is pulverised glass and appropriate solvents which are mixed with transition-metal or earth elements to create different colours. The ceramic biscuits can be glazed with different techniques. The ceramic can be dipped in a glazing bath, the glazing can be airbrushed on it or can be hand-painted. The decorated piece is then fired again to vitrify the coating. The same glazing applied with different methods can generate very different aesthetics results.

Research and Design -Painting cups
Research and Design - Fired pieces
Research and Design - Glazing Techniques


Crackle’, Flamed, Iridescent, pearlescent, metalized, Salt and pepper are all effects achieved by the balance between chemical reaction happening in the glazing, cycles of different temperature within the firing and multiples firing sessions. Glazing adds infinite possibilities to ceramic aesthetics. Crackle glazes for examples have a crack pattern that is a product of thermal expansion mismatch between body and glaze. After the glaze solidifies it shrinks more than the body and to relieve the tension of being stretched, it cracks. Crackle glazes are typically created at low temperatures.

Silk Screening / Digital Print

There are many different techniques for transferring images onto clay. To print with a screen is to transfer a color through a stretched material on a frame. Screen printing is mostly done onto flat surfaces. The colours pass through the screen by dragging them with a squeegee across what is being decorated, leaving a flat printed pattern. To screen print with the Majolica method, only the outlines should be printed. The colors are painted by hand, which is very important for the end result. Digital print is also possible on ceramics.

Research and Design  -Encaustic Tiles

Encaustic Tiles

Encaustic tiles were originally popularised by the Victorians, who valued their durability and vibrance, using them to pave the floors of many of that era’s grandest buildings.
Granby Workshop were interested in rethinking this type of tile by applying their unique, experimental manufacturing ethos to this historic process, thus creating reinvented colourful, vitrified tiles for floors and walls
Blocks of clay are marbled together by hand, sliced and flattened in a 60 tonne hydraulic press, meaning every tile is different. They are suitable for interior and exterior use on floors and walls.

Research and Design - Clay block
Research and Design - Hydraulic press
Research and Design - Sliced clay
Research and Design - Gantry Ceramics