Slip-cast column sections, drying in the sun

The International Artist Residency I’m participating in takes place at the Pottery Workshop, in the Sculpture Factory. This area is made up of hundreds of little privately-run studios and shops making commercial figurative sculpture. The whole mass-production mentality here is hard to get used to, but once you figure out the timing and rhythm of things, you can get a lot accomplished by inserting yourself and your needs into the perpetual cycle of mould-making, slip-casting, glazing, firing, and so on. There’s someone here for every ceramic-related job you can think of, including the Carry Man and the Crack Man – yes, he goes around fixing cracks in porcelain greenware! You have to pay them all of course, but the costs are very reasonable. It’s a cash economy and somehow it works.

I’ve extended my stay here at the Pottery Workshop for an extra week to fit everything in. I’ve continued to make fabric-formed models for moulds, using textiles purchased in the Open Market. I’m experimenting with stretching fabric on a wooden form, learning how much stretch is enough, or when it’s too much. Then the fabric form is filled with plaster and a mould made from this plaster positive. I’ve had Master Tang make five large moulds so far. Multiple forms have been slip-cast in these moulds by Master Zhu, using the Jingdezhen Super White porcelain. These sections can be stacked interchangeably to create tree trunk-like columns on bases. Once the clay forms are cast, I’m applying cobalt transfers and using physical vapour deposition, which leaves a thin film of metal on the porcelain surface. Michael is also coordinating the making of custom decals for large porcelain tiles, 68 cm × 37 cm. I’ve taken a carving workshop since the last time I wrote, and am learning about the vagaries and rewards of working with a porcelain that carves like butter and fires like glass.

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  • Hi Grace!
    Just reading about your progress there in China and seeing what a great adventure your having. Sure does seem to be a bit more exciting than dealing with the Manitoba winter here back home but still looking forward to seeing you when you return. Continued success and all the best.

  • Thanks Sandra. It has been phenomenal. I’ve had some excellent successes with the famous Jingdezhen porcelain and also some spectacular failures. All part of newness, experimentation, research, and a great adventure. Wish you were here too. Next time! Still hoping to find the decal you requested. I’ll let you know how it goes. All the best to you.

  • Hi Darling Grace What a fabulous time you are having there and really interesting work coming along.Knew you would get a buzz out of the place. So many memories you are bringing back for me. All the very best for the onward Journey. Wish i was there. Lots of love Sandra XX

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