Mud - Red earth is bought from the Bamthi village, while Black soil is taken from the fields.
Straw - Straw is mixed to reinforce the sculpture.
Geru - A local soil generally used to impart red color to earthenware.
Firewood - Used as fuel in the Kiln.
Dung cakes - Used as fuel in the Kiln.
Ashes - Sometimes even ashes are used in the paste, for desired properties in the sculpture.
Usually, no waste results from the whole process, even the ash from the kiln is used again in making the clay paste.
Tools & Technology
Paddle or wooden bat and the anvil in varying sizes - The bat is used for beating and the anvil is the stone support held inside the pot.
Turning stick - This is used to provide rotation to the wheel.
Thread - A thread is used to separate the product from its parent material.
Carving tools - Several other tools are utilized to impart desired patterns and shapes to the material.
Broken pots - Broken pots are utilized to seal the kiln while firing, as the earthenware are insulators, they prevent the heat from escaping into the environment.
Preparing the mud : The red and black soil are mixed in a proportion of 4:2 (red : black). The mixture is not sieved since the mud is already fine. It is soaked in water for 2-3 hours for the right consistency. It is then mixed with horse or cow dung and beaten with the hand, pindi or stomped using the feet.
Making the shapes : Pots and various vessels are made by turning on the potter's wheel and then beating from inside to widen and even out the shape. On the objects like toys and figurines, few clay pieces are coiled or made into little balls and added to impart interesting textures. This is done by hand, with pressing, pinching and rolling. While still a little moist, various patterns are pressed onto the surfaces. For example, the edges of shells are pressed onto the surface to imprint their undulations. Pine cones are bought and when pressed, create semi-circular pock marks on the clay. These are then left to dry in the shade.
In case of masks, the pieces of old pots are taken and holes or slits are made for the eyes. The other features like nose, hair etc are made with pieces of clay and pasted on.
Painting : For the terracotta color, Geru is used to paint onto the finished products. The color is then brushed onto the various sculptures. Lime is also used to paint the products in blue or ochre colors. The black slip for the pottery is also popular.
Firing in the Bhatti/kiln : Firewood and dung cakes are spread on the ground. The unfired sculptures are placed over this. Broken pieces from previous firings are also sometimes added along with the fuel. They are stacked till a vague dome is formed. The spaces between the unfired sculptures are filled with more fuel. This is covered by a layer of straw, ashes and then a thin layer of fine clay. A hole is left at the top for ventilation and some space is given around the circumference. The space at the bottom is for adding the fuel. The kiln is then fired and maintained for around 4-5 hours. The temperature required for the sculptures is around 500 to 600 centigrade. The color of the finished product is governed by the amount of oxygen that reaches the flame, lesser the oxygen darker the color.