June is ceramics month here on Makezine, and I’m reminded of a trip I took to Iran a few years back to visit my extended family. We traveled to Yazd, one of the oldest cities in the world, with history dating back 3,000 years. Yazd is known for its high-quality handicrafts, porcelain being one of them. We had occasion to tour Maybod Morvarid, one of the oldest makers of porcelain in Iran, outside Yazd in the city of Maybod (“morvarid” means “pearl” in Farsi). Their workshop is located behind their storefront, pictured above. I offer you Maybod Morvarid as a photo essay.
Porcelain is “a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 °C (2,192 °F) and 1,400 °C (2,552 °F).” Here are the big mixing vats at Morvarid and one of their kilns:
The clay is mixed, then poured into molds before it’s fired in the kiln. Here are a couple of the different molds they use:
The molds, of course, are in two parts, and when each piece is ready and the mold is pulled apart, it looks rough around the edges (like the picture at left below). The gentleman pictured at right then scrapes each piece by hand to make it smooth. Everything at Morvarid is done by hand.
The most fascinating part for me was when each piece is then hand-painted. There was a room in the workshop where the painters all worked. They started with stacks of finished, unpainted, and unglazed porcelain:
The artisans would then lovingly paint each piece by hand. It was amazing how fast they would paint and how beautiful the end result was.
The dishes that had lines on the perimeter were painted by this artisan, who put the dish on a wheel, put down his brush in one spot, and then spun the wheel to get the perfect line:
With stacks of dishes now bearing perfect rim lines, this next artisan would paint on embellishments.
At another work station, the artisan on the left details a different plate design while the artisan at the right then dips each plate in glaze.
There was certainly no shortage of eye candy at the Maybod Morvarid, and it was amazing to see these old-world artisans at work!