Inside Spode's Factory - Mould Making
Based in the heart of the Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, Spode’s earthenware factory continues to develop its beautiful collections, such as Blue Italian, Delamere Rural and Kingsley, with the same passion for quality and craftsmanship as its founder, Josiah Spode I, did nearly 250 years ago.
One of the first steps to creating a piece of Spode starts with our talented team of Mould Makers, who unsurprisingly, make moulds! An essential tool for shaping pottery, moulds are made in all sorts of shapes and sizes for both holloware, such as jugs and teapots, and flatware, such as dinner plates and saucers.
Our talented mould maker, Gareth, shared with us the many steps in the making of a Blue Italian Teapot.
Spode’s moulds are made from plaster of paris, which is a mix of powder and water. There are several different powders used in our mould making department depending on the type of mould being made, as different moulds require different strengths of plaster.
The plaster of paris moulds are formed from a silicone casing (which is made from the initial model). For the Blue Italian teapot there are four different silicone cases used to make the mould, each a section of the teapot – two sides, a base and the lid.
To begin with, small silicone notches are added to the cases. These notches will keep the different parts of the plaster of paris mould together when making the final product.
When mixed and ready, the plaster of paris mixture is poured carefully into each silicone casing until it’s full. The Mould Makers have to work quickly here to stop the plaster of paris mixture setting before each mould is full. Once filled, each casing is shaken gently to release any air bubbles.
Depending on the shape and size, each piece is left to set for about one hour before being taken out of its silicone casing and tidied up. The process of tidying up involves a process called fettling – this is where a tool is used to scrape off any sharp edges.
Once the mould elements have been fettled they can be fixed together. The complete mould is then fettled again to remove any more sharp edges.
Wire is then placed around the mould to keep it in place as it continues to dry. This ensures the finished mould is as precise as feasibly possible.
The mould is now finished but needs to be dried for around 54 hours before fulfilling its destiny of becoming a working mould. The mould will be used 6 times a day for around a week before it starts to lose its shape. Once it has finished its life as a working mould we send it off to be recycled and used within the construction industry.
The production methods used in our factory have evolved over the years, but the process still requires the talents of highly skilled potters, such as Gareth, to produce the quality that is expected from Spode. Join us next time to see behind the scenes of another Spode factory process.
The production methods used in our factory have evolved over the years, but the process still requires the talents of highly skilled potters, such as Gareth, to produce the quality that is expected from Spode. Join us next time to see behind the scenes of another Spode factory process, and don't forget to follow us on social media for more snippets of Spode.