Your favourite Winterwares mug goes through an epic journey to change from raw clay to being able to hold your morning brew. We create ceramics slowly, with our hands, moulding slabs and coils of clay. Our methods match our ethos, to go gently.
Choosing a handmade mug is choosing to be more thoughtful about how we tread on our planet and the legacy we're leaving our children. It's an intentional decision to invite beauty and connection into your everyday life.
This is the 9 step process every Winterwares piece goes through before it goes home with you.
Step 1. Clay is prepped
Our ceramics are made with Australian clay bodies that we blend using a pug mill. We love our pug mill! (I've written about the our unlikely meeting here – do you believe in signs?) she's a workhorse and she's used almost every day. There are minerals in the clay that appear during the firing that gives our wares the brown speckles that are our signature style.
Step 2. Roll and cut
Once pugged, the clay is rolled into sheets or coils depending on the piece we’re making. We use a mallet, a slab roller or a good old fashioned rolling pin to press the clay into thin sheets.
Step 3. Shape the piece
The people making your beautiful pieces are Ana and Julie, Lena, Sara and Sim. The clay is moulded, pressed and shaped into the vessel it’s going to be. We rarely use the electric pottery wheel for shaping our vessels.
Step 4. Stamp and air-dry
Each piece is stamped with our insignia and sat to dry. The clay has to be bone dry before it can be fired. Drying takes one day to one week, depending on the weather.
Step 5. First firing, bisque
Once dry, it goes into the kiln for the first firing. Baked to 1000°C. The kiln takes 12 hours to heat up and three days to cool down. Bisque firing changes the vessel from clay to ceramic. Up to this point, the clay can be recycled endlessly. All our scraps and offcuts go into the pugmill to be turned into new things.
Step 6. Glaze
Once bisqued, the vessel is strong enough to handle without breaking. Each piece is individually dipped into the Winterwares glaze. Our glaze is made in small batches on site, using recipes we’ve honed over years of trial and error.
Step 7. Second firing, glost
Into the kiln again for the glost firing. This is where the magic happens. The intense 1280°C heat of the kiln makes the speckles appear and transforms the vessel into a functional piece. There’s an unpredictability to the process that creates variations in the shine, hue and shape that we admire as part of the beauty of hand made.
Step 8. Clean and inspect
We check and wash each piece to make sure it passes our strict quality standards.
Step 9. Pack and ship
If it's heading to a new home by post, we packaging the ceramics up carefully with honeycomb paper and biodegradable padding to ensure it gets there safely. We've honed our packing systems to be plastic free and strong enough to transport across the country. If it's going into our store in Fremantle it will be wrapped in our custom calico bags.
It's a lengthy, skilful process to make our wares, but three weeks is a tiny blip in the lifetime of the finished pieces.
If you have some of our wares, you'll know they're worth the wait. 🤍