Firing up

The last porcelain firing before the exhibition in Pondicherry has started today. There are plenty of eggs in the kiln, so I will have quite a choice from which to select the best to exhibit.

There is one last stoneware firing to be done – the pieces for this are still in the process of being finished..

Working with three different clay bodies – porcelain, porcelain paper clay, and stoneware – has been fascinating.  They behave quite differently in their plastic state and have definite characters.

The stoneware is heavily mixed with iron oxide which makes for a pretty messy, sticky body before firing. On the other hand, it responds well to fettling, and burnishes to a good smooth finish.

The ‘classic’ porcelain is relatively easy to work into shape, but runs the danger of being so dry that it  wrinkles as it is worked, and does not easily present a smooth surface.  And as is always the case with porcelain, its tendency to retain the memory of its original form means that it can de-form.  Joins  and seams are particularly tricky to deal with.

The porcelain paper clay is much more malleable than the traditional porcelain body, but tends – like the stoneware – to be pretty sticky and, because of the fibres init, it drags when it is cut. But I have found that it can burnish beautifully, resulting in a silky smooth surface which has the appearance of alabaster, or a white marble, while unfired.

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