Inside Spode's Factory - Clay
Situated just 500 metres from Spode’s original factory site, set up 250 years ago by master potter Josiah Spode I, sits our earthenware factory. Josiah left a legacy of innovation and ceramic mastery, and it’s certainly one that we nurture here in our factory as we continue to craft Spode every day.
The Slip House:
Crafting a piece of Spode begins in our slip house. This is the area of our factory where the clay is prepared so it can then be used to form Spode teacups, bowls, plates, teapots and much more. A rather important step of the process.
We use nearly 29 tonnes of clay every day in our Stoke-on-Trent factory. The finest of materials are used to produce our unique clay formula, which starts as an earthy brown colour but results in a beautiful creamy white body after firing.
As you know, we craft a variety of different home and giftware pieces here at Spode, and because of this there are two methods to forming the different shapes of Spode products with the clay. The first is using liquid clay, known as slip, to fill the moulds that make detailed shapes and hollowware, such as cream jugs and teapots. And the second is where the liquid clay is converted to a solid form so our flatware can be produced, such as Blue Italian side plates or Pure Morris Pasta Bowls.
The Solid Clay:
The clay used for our hollowware pieces are formed by first creating clay slabs. This is done using a filter press. The wet clay slip is pumped into cloth filters on a press, which are encased between two metal slabs. As the pressure increases, the filter cloth traps the clay particles but allows the water through, resulting in a pressed clay slab. These slabs are then released from the press by our craftspeople and stacked ready for the next process. .
The Pug Mill:
One of our favourite processes in the slip house – pugging! The clay slabs produced earlier are now formed into the correct size of clay as pug rolls using, you guessed it, a pug mill. The slabs are placed onto the pug mill where the clay is combined and forced along a barrel, removing all the air pockets, to form a uniformed roll of clay. Depending on the different sizes of plates and bowls being crafted, the pug rolls are also formed into different sizes. The rolls are then stacked, covered, and delivered to another part of the factory where our Spode plates and bowls start to take shape.
Enjoyed seeing inside Spode’s factory? Take a look at how we craft our teacup handles.
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