Michael works directly with the Benaya artisan guilds when creating the Benaya tiles. An artist with five years of training, Michael, along with father Allan, have brought the Benaya collection to life, starting in the Canadian marketplace. Today, Michael's primary responsibility is managing the Benaya Design House. He is focused on keeping the company's image fresh and current both by creating his own original artwork and by searching for new talented artists to add to the Benaya Line.
Benaya has been producing beautiful hand-painted Ceramic and Porcelain Art since 1998. For centuries, hand-painted Porcelain and Ceramics have been revered and collected by people of all walks of life and cultures. The prices of these products range from reasonable to very expensive, but regardless of price, the nuances and character of hand painting is constant. To appreciate the 'character' and 'human nuances' of hand-painted products, you need to know how they're made!
CRAZING is the most common occurrence in ceramic art. Consider the three stages that are required to craft each piece. (1) The raw clay (also called bisque) is shaped, the picture is drawn and raised tube lining hand applied. The product now goes through the first firing. (2) Hand painting is applied and the second firing takes place, during which, tiny bubbles may form in the glaze. Under the intense and prolonged heat of the kiln, slight color transference is possible. The colors, after this firing, appear dull. (3) It is now dipped in a glaze bath, left to dry and then fired for the third and final time. The result is that the brilliant colors and complex hues come to life. Thus the phrase commonly heard that hand-painted ceramics 'are alive'.
Each firing is done at a very high temperature, some reaching 1000 degrees Celsius. The construction of the clay material and the paint/glaze material are very different, and the varying temperatures (heating and cooling) cause minute amounts of shrinkage to the glazes and clay. All this contributes to some movement in these elements which results in 'Crazing' and color shifts. Extreme care is taken to match all of these properties, but to have them be 100% safe from crazing is near impossible. When does crazing occur? It could be hours after the final firing or months/years later. Considering that master craftspeople claim that these products are alive, 'crazing is to ceramics, like wrinkles are to humans', a characteristic that happens to all, but at different stages in their lives and with different intensity.
HUES, COLORS, SHADING. Consider the number of firings, the high temperatures and the impossibility to 100% maintain the exact temperature throughout the firing time in the kilns - it is this heating process that brings the colors and brilliant glazes to life. It is again impossible to have two pieces look identical, but it is these characteristics and 'nuances' that make this product so desirable, collectable and sought after! Prints of some of the great artists sell in the millions, and these 'machine made' prints are all completely identical, but you will never find two originals of a similar theme by any artist, where the colors, hues, shading, etc. are 'identical'. So too, hand painted products are never exactly identical because the artist has created each piece, step by step, by hand