The clay is the main ingredient to our recipy for the ceramic that compose our lighting fixture. There are three types of clay work. Press molding, Cast molding and Hand molding.
- Press molding is used for ceramic plates. We cut a slice of fresh clay and stamp the desired plate with a press machine.
- Casting is far more complicated. Clay and water are mixed together to produce a thick smooth texture, which becomes a casting slip. It is tipped into a gypsum mold and in minutes a layer builds up against the walls of the mold as the water content is absorbed. The excess is poured out, leaving a coating or shell of clay in to form the shape of the mold.
- The hand molding is just what it is our artisan have been creating application decòr to embellish the lighting fixture with roses, sunflower, tulips, fruit, pendants, hearts and much more to come.
Once the clay has been molded it needs to dry out completely. If any water is left inside when firing there is an high risk of exploding. Usually it takes from 5 to 7 days for clay to dry out depending also on the weather (ex. during summer month the process is faster). All the items that need a carving, open-work or need openings have to be worked when the clay is still leather-hard.
Now that the clay is dry, the pieces are refined and turned at the wheel, to remove imperfection and to even sides. The next step is the so called “Bisque firing”. This is the first time the clay is fired. If we want to create the Special unicolor like White or Black Sand, Coral red, Blue marine, Red Roof tile than the clay, before going into the kiln, has to go through another process (acidification of the paint).
It is now painting time! By “dipping” the Bisque piece into the desired enamel we can give the first stage to our ceramic creation with what is called the Base Ceramic Color. (Check the chart at customization page). Glossy white, Aged white, and other simple colours are obtained by dipping the pieces in their specific paint. Crystaline paint is used for the craquelè effect. We use White and Ivory craquelè since we need to apply our color drawing decoration on it, but any color can be done craquelè, so if you would like your lighting to be green craquelè we can do it but remember that no design can be applied. Once the painted Bisque is dry, we can apply the color drawing. This is done exclusively by hand, Check the video below.
At this point the kiln is used again. In this second firing the corlors are fixed and we can start calling our work Ceramic. It is only now that it takes the shiny look! Also at this stage we can create the craquelè effect, that is simply done with the use of crystaline paint, as stated before, since when the ceramic starts cooling down it shrinks and the surface starts cracking. The ceramic is then dipped into a bowl with loose black paint so that the color enters the cracks which are in this way highlighted.
Ok, the hard part is done. Let’s check the work on the Frames. This is a job that IMAS decided to outsource since wrought iron specialist was needed to create well balanced structures. The items that we order from our partner Valentino, the wrought iron artisan, arrive at IMAS in the base color desired. We than apply the shading if needed. The Brass structures also are outsourced and arrive at IMAS already aged while the plates are aged by hand at factory. The process consists in soaking the plates many time into an acid solution until the right aging has been reached.
Once we have all the ceramic parts and the structures ready we can assemble your lighting fixture. We use braided wire to give a more elegant look to our items, the locking rings to lock the ceramic plates in place are also embedded with ceramic. The items is than tested and ready to be packed.
As you can see the process of creating Handcrafted lighting fixtures is long and complicated and many things can go wrong during this several steps, however IMAS has enough experience to avoid most of them. Slight difects in the products are only the result of hand working the whole process.