Yuval Harel’s ceramic tiles re-evaluate the combination of raw clay with metal.

Yuval Harel celebrates the alchemy of metal and clay

In his ongoing research examining the intrinsic relationship between clay and clay, MetalYuval Harel reveals unexpected possibilities and the value of materials. Celebrating their harmonious aesthetic and functional metamorphosis, ‘Terra Alchemy’ reverts the separate man-made states of clay and metal back to their found connections, reducing their association with the use of oxides for dying. ceramic.

The project ends as a series of small tiles that recombine metal and clay in different combinations and phases of their life cycles through accelerated processes of corrosion, oxidation and sintering. Together, the precise experimental results, supported by a book of research findings, unlock a new potential in the alchemy of materials, allowing the properties of metals to be used in new ways, fields and contexts.


tiles displaying sintered copper clay | all images courtesy of Yuval Harel

Re-evaluating the natural relationship between found materials

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

Intentionally accelerating these processes, Yuval Harel’s materials research project applies two techniques: accelerated corrosion, oxidation and sintering. These experiments artist argues that it could change the way we understand, consume, and work with materials. Ultimately, ‘Terra Alchemy’ unveils a visual archive showing these valuable new relationships between metal and clay and their unique material properties.

Yuval Harel's painted ceramic tiles reuse the combination of raw clay with metal through oxidation and corrosion
copper can be used for conductivity inside tiles

Yuval Harel, with his first experimental technique, oxidizes metals, including steel and iron, directly onto clay, allowing it to absorb oxides. Clay and oxides are combined in different proportions, resulting in a more raw, unruly result. Besides just adding color, the process affects the texture and structure of the clay and opens up the possibilities of using discarded oxidizing metals that are considered less valuable instead of refined, store-bought oxide powders.

Alternatively, his second technique combines metal with clay and experiments with different cooking and melting methods. Finding a middle ground between the two temperatures, Harel mixes copper fibers here and works with metal clay – a material made from metal powder and an organic powder that degrades during the baking process, transforms into beautiful colors and leaves behind completely. sintered metal

Yuval Harel's painted ceramic tiles reuse the combination of raw clay with metal through oxidation and corrosion
New proportions reveal unruly textures and structures as the metal is oxidized directly onto the raw clay

Yuval Harel's painted ceramic tiles reuse the combination of raw clay with metal through oxidation and corrosion
from left to right: carbon-fired copper tile, torch-fired copper tile, and oxidized copper tile

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