THE TECHNIQUE : CERAMICS
We are proud to work with artisan groups around the world who are practicing pottery making techniques to create beautiful, handmade goods.
Handmade in Nabeul, Tunisia each ceramic piece from Le Souk Ceramique is created using old world techniques and natural ingredients. Craftsmen & women begin by shaping each item using white Portuguese molding clay, either on a potter's wheel or by hand. After each piece is hand-formed, teams of artisans work with natural glazes to create the hand painted designs.
Each painter has a distinct duty in the painting process, meaning as many as six or seven artisans may touch a single piece before the design is complete. The artisans freehand paint the motifs to create the intricate designs adorning each piece. Once completed, the finished products are fired in a kiln, setting the glaze.
Artisans working at Chabi Chic practice traditional, culturally specific techniques in Morocco to create beautiful ceramics and pottery. The pottery is hand-molded and hand-painted from the beginning of the process until the end. The earth and the paint used by the artisans are edible and unleaded, and they do not contain foreign objects, which helps to prevent natural breaks. Artisans shape the clay or the ceramic, cook the material, hand-paint it, and cook it again in the process of making these products; when shaping the clay and ceramics, they use a pottery wheel. The ceramics and pottery are also food-safe and can be placed in a dishwasher and in the microwave.
We also work with artisans at India Kala. Ceramic production in India dates back to the Harappan civilization (4000 to 3000 BCE). As artisan families from the district of Khurja resettled in Pondicherry, they introduced a unique form of pottery whereby, a blue glaze was applied on red clay. The art of pottery making has spread to various parts of India, and Pondicherry has become an important center of contemporary pottery production, particularly of drinkware and tableware.
The mugs and cups are made using locally sourced clay. On average, two artisans work together to make each product. A mixture of moist clay is prepared using water. To attain the right consistency, the mixture is allowed to rest in a plaster bowl that absorbs excess water and gives the mixture a dough-like consistency. The mixture is then placed on the potter's wheel where the artisan gives it the desired shape. The pieces, whether cups or mugs, are then left to dry. When completely dry, the artisans polish each piece by hand giving it a smooth finish. The cups are then cooked in brick kilns. Cooking is a two-stage process. First, the pieces are baked at temperature between 830-850 degrees Celsius; at this stage, the cups and mugs acquire a brownish tinge. In the second stage, each piece is carefully glazed and then cooked at a temperature of 1350 degrees Celsius.
All of the cups dishwasher-safe, and are certified bromine- and lead-free, making them safe for expecting mothers. We are excited to partner with artisans at India Kala as they preserve a cultural traditions while making beautiful pottery products.
Due to the hand-crafted nature of these items, each piece is unique. The subtle differences call to mind the charming history behind the craft. Ceramic art in Tunisia is an old and rich cultural tradition, and the city of Nabeul was a center of pottery as early as 150 BC. Le Souk Ceramique continues that tradition today by continuing to make beautiful ceramic earthenware using traditional techniques.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARTISANS
The studio of Le Souk Ceramique opened in 1997 in Nabeul, Tunisia. Each timeless design is created in the studio where the artisans do not use any machinery or decals. The artisans mix every color batch of food safe glazes by hand and freehand paint every detail, resulting in one-of-a-kind works. Le Souk sets wages above minimum wage, provides healthcare and social security payments for artisans, and is in process to receive Tunisia’s Fair Trade certification.
Chabi Chic works with approximately 18 artisans and suppliers between the ages of 20 to 60. While some of the artisans, such as those who work on pottery and ceramics, are based out of workshops, some also work out of their homes. They work hard to preserve a tradition that has been passed down through generations and that is facing competition in today’s environment. Chabi Chic is part of the Marrakech Cultural and Creative Industries, a program started by the United Nations. Through this program, Chabi Chic is given access to Euro funds for the artisans looking to improve their skill sets and sell their work via trading and communication. Each purchase of the products in this collection empowers these skilled artisans and their families.
India Kala, meaning ‘crafts of India’ in Hindi, is a social enterprise partnering with 850 artisans throughout India who are between the ages of 25 and 50. India Kala works closely with the talented artisans while presenting opportunities for growth. For instance, they showcase the artisans’ work through marketing materials, perform quality checks and educate them about product quality standards, and ensure the artisans are providing marketable products without compromising on the traditional techniques practiced for the craft. Some of the artisans at India Kala work from home, and some work in the workshops.