17 August 2005

Colored porcelain

After spending the day running errands and trying to prepare for Miss Mica's birthday tea, I celebrated her birthday by encouraging Mica and her daddy to visit his parents for a while and going into the studio.

Tonight's project: Hand-Colored porcelain beads

Begin by measuring out clay and adding colorants. For tonight's beads I mixed 2 batches of blue porcelain. Since I generally mix small quantities which I then use up in one or two sittings. To mix the first batch of blue porcelain I weighed out 4 ounces of Helios porcelain from Highwater Clays and pinched a small well into the center of the ball. To that I added 1/4 teaspoon of a cobalt based blue stain and a few drops of water. I mixed the water and the stain into a paste with a bamboo skewer and started working it into the porcelain by scoring through the paste into the clay. The reason for making a paste and working it into the clay in this way is to prevent the stain from being released as dust or the stain/water mixture from "squirting" out of the clay when you begin the next step.

Once the paste has been worked into the clay some, the goal is to completely blend the stain into the clay. This is best accomplished by kneading the clay, squeezing it, and rolling it into snakes which you fold, knead and roll again.

All-in-all, hand-coloring porcelain is a lot of work but it's a labor of love. if I were doing a lot of colored porcelain, I'd probably buy it pre-mixed.

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