Insights on Experiments (II) in clay, 2013 – 2014

After the rather exhausting work on  “Essence of France” I’ve returned to a trusted medium: clay. But as usual I cannot just continue as usual, it gets boring and I’m curious about the many possibilities of this age old material.

Currently I’m pursuing two lines of experiments: hand sculpting with paper porcelain and “manufacturing multiples” with self made moulds. The latter has subsequently evolved into included engraving in bone dry clay and layered clay of different colors.

Paper porcelain

StringsPaperPorcelain1True to my nature, I want to push (explore!) the bounderies of a material and that led me to paper porcelain. When adding “foreign” material such as paper fibers to clay or porcelain, this alters the properties. Paper porcelain has more strength than regular porcelain when wet and bone dry and thus allows for more challenging forms and shapes. In the kiln the paper fibers burn away somewhere betwee 100 ℃ and 300 ℃ leaving the resulting porcelain slightly more porous. This porcelain is further no different to regular porcelain and the rest of the firing process is identical.

I’m striving for a stand alone sculpture of upright ribbons; elegant, light and open yet still comming together as one sculpture. Yearning for something out of reach. I’ve made four versions which didn’t survive it to the kiln. Usually they broke when I removed the support structure. I kept improving the support structure and the fifth try survived intact to the kiln, but broke on some places during the firing. The photo’s below show the first lying ribbons and the first and the fifth attempts of standing ribbons.

As of 27th of september 2013: The right support structure for the kiln is now the next challenge. I’ll make various forms of stoneware which resists the firing temp. of porcelain. These forms will support the porcelain to reduce the slumping during the firing. Exciting!

Jan 2014, paper porcelain, soot, steel.

On february the 1st, 2014, I participated in a small exhibition at the gallery of “my” artists collective, the theme was “light.” I made a “wide ribbons” ensemble of paper porcelain, which I thought I’d use as a candle light holder … but I discovered that the candle sooth made the most beautiful lines on my bisque baked paper clay. I discarded the candle (kitsch!) and showed only the “scorned” ribbons.

I’ve also tried to make strips of paper porcelain mixed with color pigments. It’s strikingly beautiful, but I haven’t figured out how to use it!!!


Multiples with plaster moulds

EierdopVormen1In may 2013 Ada van Werkhoven taught me how to make my own plaster moulds. Usually they are used to make series of a form that are all individual pieces, think about cups. However, that is not satisfying for me, I want to make sculptures and I want every sculpture to be a unicum that’s been through my hands. I could achieve that by applying different glazings, but 1: my sculptures are not mere media for a colored layer on top, they are about the material themselves, and 2: I like to handbuild, I need to have manipulated the material. So I’ve made moulds of the most mondane egg and egg cup. The idea is to build a sculpture consisting of lots of eggs! And to do the same with lots of egg cups.


I have to take care that cast forms stay leather hard until I have enough to build a sculpture with. Once, I’d forgotten that and I had really bone hard eggs. I started to scrape and drill in the bone dry clay and realised the potential this has for adding color to my work. If I pour one color of clay first in the mould, let it set a little bit, pour it out and pour another color of clay in the mould, I get a form with layered colors. Engraving will reveal the underlying color. Now I can enrich a “multiples sculpture” with color engravings!

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