Monday, February 10, 2014
I was thinking about why I love porcelain flowers and feel the need to make them. Then I remembered a profound encounter I had with them. Back in the 80's I spent a month traveling in France with a native and got well off the beaten path. On those wanderings we came across numerous old cemetaries that were so beautiful because the graves and headstones were decorated with porcelain floral arrangements: wreaths, crosses, bouquets, and smaller individual blossoms. Part of their beauty was the weathering, mold, dirt and chips, that made them meld into the setting. I like that they were used. Sometimes we get too precious about our porcelain. Antiques Roadshow re-enforces to the public the devaluation of a piece because it has damage. Well, if it's damaged, it's because someone loved it and used it. So here's to loving and using our porcelain creations. Let the chips fall where they may! Enjoy the photos below of Everlasting Bouquets.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Here’s the skinny on SlabMat: I couldn’t make porcelain flowers without it.
SlabMat was invented by my clever friend Pam Herring. It is a paper based, smooth surfaced mat to roll clay slabs out with. I place my clay between 2 mats and roll it out using my North Star Slab Roller. It works with a rolling pin as well. The wonderful features about SlabMat are that your clay surface is perfectly smooth, saving clean up time, the clay doesn’t stick to it, and you can roll the clay out very thin. Perfect for delicate hand building. I also use it as a nonstick hand building surface. SlabMat is available at all the major ceramic suppliers but please visit Pam’s website: www.slabmat.com for a complete list of retailers.
I have included a photo essay below of cutting out an intricate orchid petal using SlabMat and the rubber exercise band I mentioned in my previous post.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Cake decorating tools work well for porcelain flower forming and intricate detailing. The petal and leaf cutters for gumpaste save a lot of time in cutting out parts. Here’s my best trick. Roll out a thin slab of porcelain on SlabMat (another post on SlabMat coming soon) and place a thin piece of something plastic & strechy, like rubber exercise bands (I like the green and blue thicknesses) or even saran wrap or dry cleaner plastic, over the porcelain and cut through it with a cutter. Not only does this keep the clay from sticking to the cutter but it softens the edges for a more natural look and saves a lot of clean up time. One thing that I don’t like to see in ceramic flower making is clunky, straight cut edges on petals & leaves. I also pinch/flatten them a bit more with my fingers while shaping the parts. A nice thing about porcelain is that you don’t have to air dry the parts during construction like gum paste, as they hold their shape. The opposite is true. You need to maintain a level of moisture to prevent cracking.
Here’s my second trick: Cornstarch. I keep a container with a very soft brush of cornstarch on my porcelain handbuilding table. Brush any tool, cutter, plunger, or silicon press mold with cornstarch to prevent sticking.
Friday, January 24, 2014
I am a ceramic artist and most of my work is inspired by flowers. I especially like to work in porcelain as it allows the delicate forms yet is very strong and durable.
I have started this blog to gather in one place the various aspects of Porcelain Flowers and flower making. Some are created as an individual sculpture, like the Boehm flowers and some are ornate centerpieces like Vladimir Kanevsky’s creations. I make them to ornament my porcelain teapots, cups and bowls. In creating my work, I have researched the art of making porcelain flowers from the Victorian Majolica, Capodimonte and Palissey ware eras to contemporary works such as cold paste forming, polymer clay, and even sugar art and gumpaste. No matter what the medium used, many techniques and tools are shared. But the one unifying thread among all of them is the love and passion for hand forming flowers, to capture the beauty of Nature’s exuberance, whether accurately or fancifully, and preserve it in a permanent material. Well, except of course if someone eats your gumpaste orchid!
My intention here is to explore why and how we create this work. This will be a collection of posts and resources dedicated to my workshop students to assist them with their own work.