Work in progress show--The process of making

March 9, 2018

It is interesting to make blue and white porcelain in UK, which is very different with the making in Jingdezhen, whatever in tools, ways, skills, material. I reflected many time that why I remake chinese traditional ceramics here, the material is all different, so the significance and the stories behind material are different. The audience is different, maybe  But I think even I make blue and white porcelain in Jingdezhen, the origin place of Chinese ceramics, the time, the context is also different, traditional porcelain is too distant with us. As Caroline Clotte's work "speaks eloquently to the sense of loss and memory that old china often carries in our lives, as it sits silent and half-forgotten in the cupboard." (Adamson. G, 2010) I want to wipe out the dust on blue and white porcelain, rethink and reinterpret this treasure in the context of distant time and place, think about the root of Chinese porcelain, which also affected myself a lot.

 

The process of making

 

1. Mold making

 

 

 

I brought a vase online and used it to made the four part plaster mold - mouth, bottom and two parts for body. Because of weather, it takes about two weeks to dry out.

 

 

2. Slip Casting

Poured slip into the plaster mold and it started to absorb water from the clay. The time of drying depends on the size of the mold. For a medium/small mold, 10 minutes should do. But my mold is bigger and takes about 25 minutes.

 

When pouring, put two pieces of wood above the bucket to rest the plaster of Paris mold on, upside down, so the slip pours out evenly. Some potters recommend pouring the slip out at an angle, so that the inside is even smoother. Once it’s all poured out, then slice off any excess clay from the top of the mold. 

 

Problem:

 

1. The time of drying is important, it will affect the thickness. Because of the vase shape, after pouring slip the thickness of belly part is thicker than neck part. When the belly part is too think, it cannot support the weight and the vase will collapse. There was once that I wait it a bit longer,  the thickness was not suitable and result in collapse.

 

2. The speed of pouring slip is also important. There was another time that the mold is very heavy and I pour the slip out too quick to make it collapse again. Because of pressure, the slip poured out affected the clay inside the mold.

 

 

 3. Biscuit firing

Problem:

 

I used the slip in the ceramic studio, the color is more dark than the color of porcelain. But the porcelain slip is not very white either. I am still not sure it is because of the slip itself or the temperature of stoneware firing. The temperature of firing here is 1260°C and Jingdezhen's is 1280--1340°C. Another reason is kiln, normally the ceramic making in UK uses electric kiln but Jingdezhen usually uses gas kiln. I will compare the different clay and the ceramics after firing of these two places. 

 

 

4.  Transfer paper

 

I bought the transfer paper in Jingdezhen and researched about the decal and the symbolism of Chinese ceramic decoration, especially for the plant motifs.

(https://shikkaku.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2018/11/12/The-symbolism-of-Chinese-ceramic-decoration-lotus-and-plum-flower)

 

 

 

 5. Glaze 

 

 

Problem:the golden glaze is not very gold, it is like get rusty. It is high fire cone 5 glaze. Maybe it is because the temperature of kiln.

 

 

Before firing

 

After 1260 °C Firing

 

 

 

 

 

Instruction

 

Blue and white porcelain is a symbolic element in Chinese traditional culture. I found some phenomenon of over-commercialization of this traditional handicraft. For Businessmen, it is also a good gimmick in the market. Some workshops in Jingdezhen still produce blue and white porcelain copied old forms because of the demands of the market. For auctions, the porcelains in old ancient has become a commercial brand and concept and was over-packaged in the market. The benefits of auction provoke a production chain for modern imitations of ancient porcelain of any dynasty, which are mixed into genuine antiques to make market chaotic.

 

According to the situation of over-commercialization of porcelain, I want to deconstruct this old element through experiment. I try to reinterpret it from my perspective and create new blue and white. It is a way to understand the present and re-evaluate the past. 

 

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