The grading (Calibrage) is used to make dishes like plates, bowls etc. We put clay in a plaster mould, set it in rotation and a “calibre” (kind of cut-out board) gives the complementary shape.
The Tournage allows us to make pieces up to about 50 centimeters. The potter places a ball of earth on the girelle of the wheel. He centers it, pierces it and shapes it up as a cylinder. Then he gives the desired shape to the piece. It is a job that demands a very long apprenticeship.
The wheel with rope is an integral part of the identity of "The earth in forms". This process, finalized in 1920 by René Augé-Laribé allows to make vases of very big dimensions. On a wheel, around a metallic axis, we place rounded boards, like orange slices, which we round-up with ropes. We apply the clay to this assembly. A calibre smooths the outside surface. This system, little used until then, is spreading out and several craftsmen now use it, not only in France but all the way to Baton-Rouge in Louisiana.
The decorations are painted on with a barolet. It is a kind of terra-cotta pear fitted with a small reed pipe. The barolet is filled with slip or engobe (liquid clay) colored by metallic oxides. This process is very common in glazed terra-cottas. The Alsatian, Savoyard and Provençal potters often use it.
All the pieces must be perfectly dry before going in the oven. If a plate can dry in a few days, even a few hours, the biggest pieces can take up to three months to dry! The drying must be slow and homogeneous to avoid cracks.