Ceramics stains (from a variety of manufacturers) are added as a percentage of dry material to a porcelain clay body I formulated in the early 1970’s. The porcelain recipe contains only 20% clay—the remainder being feldspars, flint and plasticizers—so to some it may seem more like glass than clay. This porcelain was developed specifically to yield the highest possible degree of translucency. The construction techniques were developed to accommodate my aesthetic desire for a luminous cross between clay and glass. Traditional clay qualities like plasticity were sacrificed.
I use a variety of techniques on each piece but on any given piece you may find:
* nerikomi—specific images are created in layers within a tube or “log” and then segmented as cross-sections. These image wafers are then used either individually(as with much of the fish imagery) or as repeat pattern. When used as repeat pattern I vary the individual wafer size to provide movement within the overall assembled pattern. I came to the nerikomi technique through my graduate studies in glass. At that time, early 70’s, the most common reference technique was “millefiori” glass. I simply transferred the glass technique to porcelain.
*slip painting—-large color fields are usually painted in with colored slip made from the same recipe as the malleable body. I also use slip to paint in specific details in some of the fish.
*print—-I use stencils and stamps to generate some of the imagery. The decision to use nerikomi, painting or printing is based on the content of the overall piece. In general, nerikomi provides a crisper image, painting yields a more fluid imagery and print falls somewhere in-between.
All of the vessels are made of slabs. When painting or printing, I begin with a slab of less than a millimeter in thickness(usually painted as slip onto a fabric and allowed to dry to a malleable state). The appropriate marks are then generated on this surface.
Nerikomi pieces begin with just a piece on fabric (wet) and the images are built up using individual nerikomi wafers. Once the slabs are completed they are transferred to a form made of castable refractory material. The form, and porcelain, is placed in the kiln for firing.
These pieces are made of thousands of individual leaves, petals, insects and reptiles. These parts are initially sculpted in wax. A plaster mold is made of these models and the porcelain is pressed into the mold, painted with slip and fired individually to attain the proper contour. After firing the parts are affixed to a Plexiglas or glass substrate in a process that requires fitting the various parts’ color, form and contour into an engaging composition.