Saturday, April 9, 2011

Learning from my Mistakes

Every great artist will admit that somewhere in their search for perfection they did make mistakes. The secret is not to dwell on it, but to learn and conquer.

During a recent project teaching people skills, I decided to develop a new clay body that will simplify the process. I wanted something that can be once fired, with colour included in the body and that would eliminate the glaze process, but still give the necessary sheen. I tried researching Soft Paste Porcelain, but could not track down much information, let alone any recipes. 

The next option I thought about was Egyptian paste. Looking at the drawbacks of making, handling and firing, I quickly dismissed the idea. Working with unskilled people with not a very high level of education, the attempt would have been too frustrating for me and them to turn it into a viable option.

The next thing I came across was something used in the 19th century to simulate marble, mostly used for figurines. I came across a recipe in an old book I found at a flea market many years ago, and decided to give it a try.

Working with the first test batch was very interesting. Although the body was very short, it had great green strength, which was definitely a plus point. I need to add something to increase the plasticity. During the firing process it dawned on me that with the high amount of fluxes, the temperature of 1150*C would be too high. The photograph at the top is the result, everything melted down and bloated totally. I am doing more test firings at lower temperatures, but will also experiment with other fluxes to come up with the perfect solution.

The next mistake I encountered was using platinum luster on an unglazed surface fired to a high temperature. What I envisaged as a bright matt silver colour, turned out to be a rather muted grey. Although not totally wasted,  I will not go this route again. The colour would be much better obtained from slips and engobes, as the price of the luster is too expensive to make it commercially viable.

So its back to the drawing board for me, even the smallest mundane pieces can stimulate your creativity, and hopefully great things will come from this

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and well written. Thank you for sharing your `mistakes`! Greetings from Amsterdam.