Handmade cups do not grow on trees!

Handmade is always special, it is something personal in a positive sense. In every completed piece there is a part of the artist. Handmade can be found today only in traditional industries and even more rarely with the label "Made in Germany". We resourceful clay lovers from the ceramic cartel take on this problem! With us everything is lovingly handmade, directly at the pulse of the scene, directly from the heart of the capital!
Handmade ceramics, specially handmade cups bring a special joy. They can be used several times a day and because you can never have enough. Nevertheless, one likes some cups more than others - regardless of whether they are handmade or not. Why is that so?

Drinking pots are by no means banal, they are important utensils of daily use. A handmade cup brings a joy that one could almost call thieving. Only you own this cup and if you do not want to share it, you are the only one who has ever drunk from it! But it takes a long time until the finished cup is ready, because there is a lot of manual work in this everyday object. Cups are more innovative than you would think at first glance and it is impossible to imagine everyday life without them. Everybody has his preferences and especially handmade cups are worth paying more attention to. For example, a thin rim is perceived by many people as unpleasant on the mouth, but the same applies to a thick one. This is different with the wine glass, where the thinner the better. Where exactly the middle between too thin and too thick lies requires practice, especially since the shrinkage of the clay must already be taken into account during production. Another point is the shape of the handle. It must fit the shape and feel of the body of the future cup and at the same time be wide enough to be suitable for strong male hands. Furthermore, there are many people who prefer a handmade cup to a straight one only if it is bulbous.

The tea sommelier

The organic shape allows the aroma to develop better - similar to a wine glass. For others it is important that it is light and at the same time can hold a lot of volume. In order to take all these preferences into account, we at the Keramik-Kartell are constantly producing new innovations, creative designs and actively incorporate customer wishes into our hand-made cups.

Most handmade cups fromKeramik-Kartell.de are turned by hand on the turntable, at least the body. For this purpose the clay is prepared, homogenized, compacted and extensively kneaded. On the turntable it is then given life. Although clay as a material is not biological, it is after all eroded rock, it has a certain life in it. A calm hand, patience and strength are required on the turntable in addition to a great deal of practice. If you move quickly or jerkily, the clay becomes grumpy and can hardly be brought into the desired shape. After a little (more) practical experience, even laymen will succeed in making the first cups, which can later become cups. The difference between handmade cups and handmade mugs is as trivial as it is important, but let us mention it here only briefly: cups do not have a handle.

Keramik-Kartell - an der Töpferscheibe

The soil has to be modelled

After the clay has been formed on the potter's wheel, it has to dry until it has approximately the consistency of leather (because of this it is also called leather-hard clay). In this state, it can just about be shaped and is still somewhat elastic. Dry clay, on the other hand, is brittle like cooled chocolate and is difficult to repair once something has broken off. For the second step on the way to a cup, the still moist, not wet clay is ideal and necessary. In order for the blank to become a handmade cup, the base must now be modelled. To do this, it is now clamped on its head on the turntable and machined with a turning loop. Excess clay is removed and the shape of the future cup is underlined. This turning is necessary for various reasons, the most important reason being that the cup will otherwise tilt. There are also technical reasons, such as firing in the kiln, weight reduction and, for example, water running off when washing the cup. There are countless ideas about what the bottom of a handmade cup should look like and almost all of them are a matter of taste. Now comes the thing that makes a handmade cup: the handle.

Frau präsentiert gedrehte kleine Vase

Now for the handle

Handles are drawn or cast and never formed from a rolled sausage. To do this, the clay is milked from lumps until an appropriately long sausage has formed. This procedure prevents the clay from cracking when forming the bend for the handle. The movement of the handle is most comparable to milking and probably the most accurate statement a potter has made about the art of handles for handmade cups is "you can milk, you can handle". I regularly won podium places at medieval festivals milking around a plastic cow's udder filled with water. However, the last time I touched a cow was as a child and I have never milked a real one! Be that as it may, it must be true!

Now attach the milked sausage to the cup and cleanly polish it off and the cup is born. Experience is crucial in this step and helps to unite purpose and design. These two are by no means contradictory; rather, they have to be united with a sure instinct.

On the one hand, the handle must be long enough so that even strong male hands can grasp the handle. However, in no case should it be too long. Not only does it look silly, it is also not very functional. Also the handle of the handmade cup must be thin enough not to resemble a beer stein but thick enough to carry the weight of the full cup. The handle has to be long enough to avoid burning your fingers on the hot cup, but also not too long. Handling is a science in itself, in production as well as in design, and it raises questions, especially with handmade ceramics.

Glazing of the handmade cups

After the cup has dried, it is fired for the first time in the biscuit firing. Clay has the ability to swell and can be mixed again and again with water. To remove the ceramics from this cycle, they are fired at about 900 C. They are then not yet waterproof, but are considerably more resistant than their unfired counterparts. To make the handmade cup waterproof, it is glazed. Glaze is basically ground glass, which is mixed with oxides and water. Glazing is the final step on the way to the finished cup and also the most difficult one. It meets design idea with feasibility - the colour must match the shape and you have to remember that the liquid in the cup adds another colour. Especially for people who like clear structures this is an important question. Once the cup is glazed, it goes back into the kiln, but glaze does not automatically mean waterproof. Most ceramics are permeable to water despite glaze, this is due to the temperature during firing. Below 1100 C the pores of the clay remain open and passable for water, regardless of the glaze, because the glaze usually cracks when it cools in the kiln and forms fine hairline cracks.

weisse Porzellan Schalen und Kannen in der Werkstatt

Not quite tight? Not with us!

Who needs a handmade cup that leaks?! With the ceramic cartel, theconsumer ceramics are generally fired at > 1100 C and are therefore waterproof. The clay itself sinters at these high temperatures because the quartz contained in the clay crystallises out. The disadvantage at these high temperatures is the less colourful colour palette. Especially red tones are rarely found as stoneware. In the past, lead and cadmium were used to make up for this. One adds a difficult to describe iridescence to the glaze, the other leads to brilliant red tones. For utility ceramics like our handmade cups, lead and cadmium is of course a problem. All ceramics at the Keramik-Kartell are free of lead, we only use glazes that are certified free of lead. The secret of our reds in high firing is zirconium silicate. It coats the cadmium so that it is bound and cannot be released. The cadmium release of inclusion pigments is 1000 times lower than with conventional cadmium glazes. The strong red and orange colours used by us are therefore not subject to identification.

Handmade cups are a science in themselves and require understanding for the purpose. They are an individual piece of craftsmanship that has demanded time and experience. It's nothing off the assembly line and we at the Keramik-Kartell have the claim that our handmade cups and other ceramics will give tea and fragging lovers pleasure for a long time.