Friday, November 16, 2007

Porcelain tests

The past 10 days have been a bit slow. My energy levels have waned and I haven't felt like communicating much. Combined with not having much to communicate because I was doing so little, this is not a recipe for vital blogging!

There isn't much to actually show for the work I have done, as it was mostly directed towards a grant application and submitting work for another art prize. Luckily I do have my porcelain tests back from feffakookan (thank-you!) and can share them with you.

Above you can see a photo of the three types of porcelain I tested. The tiles are 1-2mm thick, just hand rolled with a rolling pin. You can see that at this thickness they are all translucent to a degree, but disappointingly the paper porcelain is not very translucent, and it is actually the thinnest tile. For some reason, this surprised me. I had thought that having paper in the mix (which burns away during firing) would mean there was actually less clay, so it should be more translucent. Of course there is the option of adding paper myself to one of the other clays (you can add up to about 30%) but that is not as easy as just buying it by the block. Still, if it is the difference between working with clay or not, it would be worth it.

The other qualities I am considering in these tests are colour, ease of working and surface finish. You can see that the paperclay is a much creamier colour and if you enlarge the image you may be able to see it has a different texture from the pure clay. Its hard to describe, but it is rougher to touch, and almost seems as if its not vitrified. If you've never done ceramics, you may not know what I mean by this, but its the difference between something that's been low-fired (bisque, raku, earthenware) and something high-fired (stoneware).

All the tiles were fired together, and the others are vitrified, but I wonder whether the paperclay would benefit from going to a higher temperature...this might achieve more translucency. I quite like the creamy colour as an option when you don't want a full white, and I am getting used to the surface, I'd just like more translucency. It's definitely much easier to work with than the pure porcelains which are known for being temperamental.

The Southern Ice and the Imperial Porcelain are very similar in colour, although the IP is maybe a shade creamier. SI has a strange tendency to develop these little "lumps". They are funny things and I've never been able to find out what causes them. If anyone knows, please email me. They remind me of those tiny pimples new babies sometimes have. I've tried to highlight them with the box in the picture above. In the past I've just accepted them as a feature of the clay.

So.... a decision....which to use for the ceramic book?
Well, I've decided to use sepia photos, and I'm leaning towards the Imperial Porcelain, but I've decided to do more testing using the actual decals, because there may well be a colour difference with them compared to the prints.

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