Well, trying to insert more images didn’t work in the last post, and I’ve tried again to no avail in this post.

So here is the first image of the test with unfired eggs, to see how long they keep their integrity when soaked.

Starting the 'wet test' -Porcelain egg on left and paper clay egg on right, before water is added 23 Jan 2012

The very last firing is now done, and the kiln is doing a slow cooldown, and should be ready to open on Wednesday or Thursday.

I have been making the very last paper clay forms today. These will not be fired and I should be able to transport them by air without them being damaged, because I intend to burnish them. This will give them a fine, pretty tough surface and the egg form itself is pretty tough too.

As most of my work these days is impermanent in one way or another, it has been important for me to find a way of showing something impermanent at this exhibition. So today I am testing a theory I have, that these unfired, burnished, paper clay eggs will gently dissolve when water is applied. I want them to last at least a couple of days in a recognisable form once they are on display.

So, as well as the promised image of the kiln packed for the last firing, there are also a couple of images of my ‘wet test’ using a porcelain egg which was just fettled and smoothed, plus a paper clay egg which was highly burnished. The latter should survive longer in water than the former. Time will tell whether I am technically competent enough to post more than one image…

Anyway, the first image shows the kiln packed and ready to fire yesterday.  I have been using a smooth black stoneware body for these forms and have put some of them on props to keep them away from any loose batt wash there may be on the kiln shelf.

General view of stoneware firing before firing 22 Jan 2012

I have just opened the kiln after the last porcelain firing for the show in India. I’m conscious that it’s not exactly a full kiln, but I had to get these pieces done. We fly on Sunday week and they will be in my hold luggage.

I haven’t inspected them yet, though I know some of them have split.  There will hopefully be enough good eggs (oh dear – an unintended pun) for my purposes.

Next I have my very last firing – of smooth stoneware. I will probably pack and fire the kiln tomorrow.

Porcelain forms for Kala Kendra show 21 January 2012

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.