Saturday, 5 July 2014

Donkeys work

When I saw the shop in Taizé for the very first time, with all its displayed earthenware, I saw in my rather unrealistic fantasy rows of monks sitting behind potter’s wheels, vehemently kicking the wheel in order to deliver yet another cup, saucer or plate to the anxious shop attendants.

The shop in Taizé
This image was rudely disrupted after we had read in the local paper that the potters in Taizé were opening up their workshops for an open day. And since we are always in for an outing, we went uphill, where the workshops would open up around 11h00.
This image I had of hundreds of old monks, bent backs from years sitting at the wheel turned out to be incorrect. We were welcomed by a young brother, who first showed us the clay mixers and the presses. They were located in a small space, but to call this handiwork is a bit farfetched. The mixer was big, and the press for clay tablets of approx. 40 x 20 x 3 inch3 and the press that produces a continuous clay sausage with a diameter of approx. 8 inch hardly classify as hobby tools anymore.

Press for clay tablets - Taizé
Also the pots, cans, mugs, cups, etc. in the next workshop were more or less mechanically produced. The brothers working here were all wearing aprons, and only the fact that most of them were wearing sandals might have been an indication that these were indeed brothers. I assume, that workers in an industrial earthenware factory would wear safety shoes, or at least closed shoes.
During this visit we saw the whole production line, from forming earthenware with presses, moulding in moulds, enamelling and glazing, making enamel, baking in the kilns with a content of 1 m3 each up to the hand painting of various types of earthenware, such as trays, plates, cups, etc.

Clay sausage press - Taizé
The painting however is only done to order. The main difference with an industrial earthenware factory is that the brothers are working when it suits them. Hence the production line is very flexible, most likely reason why production is not always keeping up with demand.
And even though my vivid imagination of how Taizé pottery is made does not really correspond with real life, it was certainly an interesting and educational outing.

Workshop with moulds in Taizé
Guests of La Tuilerie de Chazelle cannot just hop into the workshops whenever they wish, however, the Taizé shop is certainly also worth a visit and is open every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment