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Home > The Workshop

The Workshop

On these pages you will see the care and love that goes into each piece of clay from the time it's dug from the ground until it is placed gleaming with our own freshly-fired glaze onto our shelves or into a box to ship to you. Three generations of Rackliffes work here:

It all begins with the clay...

Dug on our land in East Blue Hill, our native clay is mixed with water and thinned into slip, screened to remove all particles, and poured into the drying tables.

The tables are lined on the bottom with pottery plaster with heating elements embedded in it.

The low, slow heat gently removes the moisture in the clay until it is ready to be wedged. Wedging is the process of throwing the blocks of soft, malleable clay onto a hard surface to remove air bubbles. It does somewhat the same thing as kneading bread.

The clay is weighed into the proper sizes for different pots.

Here, a handle is about to be applied to a tapered mug. The potter brushes the mug with slip, which will act like glue for the soft clay handle.

The handle is attached at the top, and curved gently down toward the bottom of the mug.

Once the bottom of the handle is secured to the mug, the edges of the join are smoothed, and loose particles brushed away.

The join of the handle is important to the lifespan of the mug. The better the work is done here, the longer the finished piece will last.

The handle is gently adjusted for comfortable curvature. The Rackliffes have developed a feel for a comfortable handle, assuring that your order will look right, hold enough coffee to suit you (especially the chowder mug!) and have just the right heft and comfort in your hand.

This tray of green (unfired) mugs has dried to a state called leatherhard. In that state they are dry to the touch, but are still slightly flexible.

Now the handles are checked again. If they have sagged slightly, they are gently adjusted back into ideal shape.

Where our clay comes from