One of Katey’s favorite handicrafts, for which Rajasthan, and Jaipur in particular, are known for, is Blue Pottery. Blue Pottery has been produced in this region for hundreds of years. The craft was introduced by the Moghuls and the traditional motifs on the pottery reflect the Middle Eastern designs introduced with the art-form. While pottery has been produced throughout the world for thousands of years, what makes blue pottery special is the material. Though called pottery, the pieces are not made with clay. Instead, they are created from a mix of quartz powder, fuller’s earth, scrap glass, and a few other mineral ingredients.
This creates a particularly delicate ‘dough’ which is shaped into the various items through the use of molds. The blue pottery dough has a tendency to fall and break apart when formed on a potter’s wheel. The wet dough is left in the mold to dry for one to two days before the mold is removed to be reused. Once the mold is removed, a small amount of water is reintroduced in order to smooth and even out the shape of the item and to join pieces together. Larger items require the use of more than one mold, again due to the brittle nature of the material. After the desired shape is achieved, the whole item is covered in a final white coat of quartz powder, flour, glass, and water and left to dry again before painting.
Each item is painted by hand by the artists using hand ground mineral paints. The primary colors of the pottery are various shades of blue, yellow, green, black, and brown. Once the painting is done, the whole item is dipped in a glaze and left to dry in the sun. Once the items are dry, they are fired in a kiln at a temperature of 800-850° C (1470-1560° F). The pottery is fired for approximately 4-5 hours, but left in the kiln for 2-3 days. Until the firing is finished and the pieces completely cooled, the pottery is prone to breakage. Due to this brittleness, the rate of failure (cracking) for larger pieces is very high. Despite the high rate of failure for the larger pieces, once fired, the blue pottery is as durable as any other traditional pottery.
Over the last couple of days, Katey visited a variety of blue pottery manufacturers, and is pleased to have found some amazing artisans and art pieces for your home!