Ceramics: from Terracotta to Porcelain
This has been a big couple of months for me on the ceramics front. Prior to the workshop fire which destroyed both of my kilns, glazes, glaze recipes, tools etc in early March 2019, I was working hard on a few projects for exhibitions - and most famously (as many of you followed closely with the creation of) my Lotus Flower!
This terracotta Lotus Flower took me many hours of delicate hand work and painting to get to this point - however it went down with the Titanic and turned into a broken and charred fragment of what it used to be.
It's an interesting journey to go through - from happily making, firing and enjoying ceramics - to suddenly having my glaze tools and kilns not being there.
I wanted to rise from this, to rebuild and see if I can use this destruction as an opportunity to move into new clay areas.
I contemplated a larger kiln - however that would take me into the realm of gas - which after some thought and research is not the way I want to go.
I've been considering moving from low-fire clay (terracotta / earthenware temperatures) to high-fire clay (stoneware / porcelain temperatures). We're talking approximately about a maximum kiln firing temperature difference of: low-fire clay to 1100*C and high-fire clay to about 1280*C-1300*C.
Many potters fire to low-fire temps because it is better for the kiln's life.
Previously my kiln was an old one from 1999, and I didn't like to 'push' the temperature to any higher than 1100*C. This was great while I learned how to glaze and fire my pieces.
Yesterday (22 April) was the start of a 2-week intense ceramic focus for me with workshops and conventions coming up, and yesterday was the first time I touched clay since the fire, and the first time I started hand building with porcelain.
Mostly in ceramics we are taught to use porcelain for wheel-throwing or slip casting - it is a tricky clay to use for hand building - but over the past few months I've seen a lot of potters hand build with it and I was curious about this.
Now, as I am in the process of rebuilding the ceramics side of my work I am very interested in a newer kiln which will comfortably fire to high-fire so I can explore porcelain for sculpture, jewellery and functional ware - and I'd LOVE to do some gold lustre work on the porcelain too.
I'm interested in using the ice-white surfaces which porcelain offers to paint and illustrate. I would adore the ability to merge my LOVE for ceramics and pastel drawing - perhaps finding a way to use the clay as a 3D canvas.
From what I have already found out with porcelain and hand building with it - it is a very different material to use than terracotta - and I am excited and motivated to work with it more, challenge myself, learn, explore and discover its secrets.
Stay tuned for more on my journey from Terracotta to Porcelain. I feel I am ready, have basic experience behind me and will see where this takes me.
I learn - I soak up.
I challenge myself - I push out of my comfort zone.
I test the material - I see how far I can take it.
I will get frustrated - and will push through.
This is the start of a new ceramics phase for me.
I am rebuilding what was lost - but not through replacement.
Instead through rising, growing and turning a challenge into an opportunity.
An eager student am I... come to me Porcelain, let's see what we can create together!!
Thanks for reading,