Friday, November 4, 2011

The Myth Made Real

All packaged and ready for new homes!

It's been a steep learning curve here the past month, exploring the nuances of slipcasting porcelain. Phew! The cliff notes to this two month epic: I'm passionately in love with this stuff. A torrid, shameless love affair! Wanton! My passions were aflame, my breasts were heaving, my loins were...well, OK, I'll spare you. But this clay is definitely as magical as the subject matter I chose for my first foray - a unicorn

I made an open-face plaster mold and just poured the slip in, letting it dry and firm up just enough to pop out easily. Using that "button" technique with a piece of porcelain clay really helped matters, too. I was able to cast about five unicorns a day with this approach.

The tools of the trade, with some greenware made earlier that day. The extra greenware porcelain is put back into the dump bucket and used for future castings. Ceramics are wonderful - very little waste and lots of recycling!

Here they are all lined up, (left) original oil clay from which the plaster mold was made, (middle) greenware casting and (right) fired porcelain casting. Pretty impressive shrink rate between them!

Here's a close-up of a greenware casting (left) and the finished fired porcelain result (right). Each piece required a great deal of cleaning and tweaking to get just right. A labor of love.

And voila! The finished result! Well worth all those long hours and determined effort. I decided to leave the piece bisque to showcase the sculpture itself and preserve all the details - I vastly prefer bisque porcelain to glazed for this reason. To my eye, it's an ideal medium for highlighting sculptural aspects, so elegant and lovely.

All packaged and ready for Etsy this weekend! 

I am absolutely thrilled to have completed this ambitious project successfully! Slipcasting porcelain opens up entirely new horizons for my work, especially for my bas-reliefs. In fact, I got a bit wild n' crazy along those lines, but I'll leave that for a (soon) future blog post. I also found that certain post-fire flaws can be fixed, along with contriving a solution for the warping problem (again, I'll leave that for a future post). Indeed, the experience was so positive that I decided to make this unicorn ornament an annual series, so next year I'll come out with a new design. 

I gotta say, though, this project relied on my aggressive naivete and militant optimism. I had no idea what I was doing, simply forging ahead with what I knew about slipcasting earthenware. What surprised me after it all was how non-scary and accessible slipcasting porcelain ended up being. I still have some glitches to iron out with bigger pieces, but overall, you can bet more of this luscious stuff will be popping outta this studio! 

Now, back to the mud for more tiles, that Friesian ornament and other clinky goodness! MUSH! 

"One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself." ~ Lucille Ball

Related Posts with Thumbnails