the ceramic tiles by yuval harel revalue the union of raw clay with metal

yuval harel celebrates the alchemy of metal and clay

In his ongoing research examining the inherent relationship between clay and metal, Yuval Harel reveals the possibilities and unexpected values ​​that materials contain. Celebrating their harmonious aesthetic and functional transfigurations, ‘Terra Alchemy’ inverts the separate man-made states of clay and metal back to their found connections, reducing his relationship with the use of oxides to dye. ceramics.

The project culminates as a series of small tiles that bring together metal and clay in different combinations and phases of their life cycle through accelerated processes of corrosion, oxidation and sintering. The delicate experimental results, complemented by a book of research findings, together reveal a new potential of materials alchemy, allowing the attributes of metals to be used in new ways, spaces and contexts.

tiles showing ceramic sintered copper clay | all images courtesy of Yuval Harel

revaluing the inherent relationship between the materials found

Clay and metal minerals are both components of stone. As metals corrode, they return to their original natural state, while ceramics, when fired, sinter and turn back into stone. Although this composition and decomposition takes several years, they remain in constant movement.

By intentionally accelerating these processes, Yuval Harel’s materials research project implements two techniques of accelerated corrosion, oxidation and sintering. These experiments, the artist he argues, it can change the way we understand, consume and work with these materials. Ultimately, ‘Terra Alchemy’ results in a visual archive that showcases these valuable new relationships between metal and clay and their unique material properties.

yuval harel's stained ceramic tiles revalue the union of raw clay with metal through oxidation and corrosion
copper can be used for conductivity inside tiles

Using his first experimental technique, Yuval Harel oxidizes metals, including steel and iron, directly onto clay, allowing it to absorb oxides. The clay and the oxides come together in different proportions, creating a more raw and rebellious result. In addition to simply adding color, the process affects the texture and structure of the clay and opens up possibilities for using discarded oxidizing metals that are considered of lesser value in place of store-bought refined oxide powders.

Alternatively, her second technique combines metal with clay and experiments with different firing and melting methods. Finding a middle ground between the two temperatures, here Harel mixes copper fibers and works with metallic clay, a material made of metal powder and an organic powder that denigrates during the firing process, going through a transformation of beautiful colors and leaving back a completely sintered metal.

yuval harel's stained ceramic tiles revalue the union of raw clay with metal through oxidation and corrosion
as metal oxidizes directly onto raw clay, new proportions create unruly textures and structures

yuval harel's stained ceramic tiles revalue the union of raw clay with metal through oxidation and corrosion
from left to right: charcoal-fired copper clay tile, torch-fired copper tile, and oxidized copper tile

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