Under the guidance of its owner, Urban Magušar, Magušar's House has become a centre of pottery.
Written by Urban Magušar, May 2018
For Urban, clay isn't merely a raw material from which he has been creating for decades. Clay is his life. “Those that work with clay all the time, are in touch with the origin of the universe”, he said.
When creating ceramics we use a lot of various materials – clay, glazes, oxides etc., which we get from shops that specialise in materials and equipment for ceramics. There are clays of all colours available on the market, with or without chamotte, Raku clay, paperclays, porcelains, clays with various effects and the list goes on. Therefore, it is hard to imagine how important local sites of clay were for potters in the past. The qualities of local clay influenced the development of pottery, the way materials were prepared, the design techniques and, ultimately, also the decoration and general appearance of potteryware. The colour and thickness of pots, the method of creating detail, the firing and glazing – all of this was determined by clay that was accessible in nearby local areas.
Globalisation, which has resulted in and cheaper and wider choice on the market , has meant that just three traditional potters remain. That is also the reason why a large part of the designing of clay is becoming similar throughout the world - somehow uniform and trendy. The use of porcelain, grey terrazzo clay, rough shamot and Raku clays prevails. Slovenian clays differ somewhat from those of the largest producers, which is why such small-scale boutique production of local clays leads to better quality and diversity.
In the first year of the three-year project named 'Catalogue of Slovenian Clay', which ends with the forthcoming exhibition, we organised the collection of samples of clay from all areas of Slovenia. Thirty ceramists responded to our invitation to co-operate and bought over 100 samples to our workshop. We tested the clay in our workshop in Magušar's House in Radovljica. We were interested in the basic physical properties: contraction, porosity, colour and granulation. We heated the samples to temperatures of 800-1,300˚C. which allowed us to determine the temperature range of sintering and melting.
“1,300˚c is nothing”, said Clay. “I've experienced worse! Raging magma, glaciers, volcanoes. I've experienced wild rivers and rested in seas. Romantic and exciting. All have had an effect on me and left their trace. And then someone comes along, packs me into a plastic bag, takes me home and puts me into the oven. Ha, ha! If it's going to be hot, I'll show my true colours”.
Painting: Špela Oblak, Photo: Jošt Gantar, ceramic mugs and concept: Urban Magušar
The part about the universe sounds very pathetic, but for many intensive work with clay leads even further - there towards infinitiy where kaolin white clay with »gorgonzola« is considered the best. And what colour is Slovenian clay? You can find out the answer at the exhibition in Magušar's House which opens on 18th May and will be on view until the end of summer.