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Ceramics: from Terracotta to Porcelain

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April 23, 2019: This has been a big couple of months for me on the ceramics front. Prior to the workshop fire which destroyed both of my kilns, glazes, glaze recipes, tools etc in early March 2019, I was working hard on a few projects for exhibitions - and most famously (as many of you followed closely with the creation of) my Lotus Flower!
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This terracotta Lotus Flower took me many hours of delicate hand work and painting to get to this point - however it went down with the Titanic and turned into a broken and charred fragment of what it used to be.
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It's an interesting journey to go through - from happily making, firing and enjoying ceramics - to suddenly having my glaze tools and kilns not being there.

I wanted to rise from this, to rebuild and see if I can use this destruction as an opportunity to move into new clay areas.

I contemplated a larger kiln - however that would take me into the realm of gas - which after some thought and research is not the way I want to go.

I've been considering moving from low-fire clay (terracotta / earthenware temperatures) to high-fire clay (stoneware / porcelain temperatures). We're talking approximately about a maximum kiln firing temperature difference of: low-fire clay to 1100*C and high-fire clay to about 1280*C-1300*C.

Many potters fire to low-fire temps because it is better for the kiln's life.

Previously my kiln was an old one from 1999, and I didn't like to 'push' the temperature to any higher than 1100*C. This was great while I learned how to glaze and fire my pieces.

Yesterday (22 April) was the start of a 2-week intense ceramic focus for me with workshops and conventions coming up, and yesterday was the first time I touched clay since the fire, and the first time I started hand building with porcelain.

Mostly in ceramics we are taught to use porcelain for wheel-throwing or slip casting - it is a tricky clay to use for hand building - but over the past few months I've seen a lot of potters hand build with it and I was curious about this.

Now, as I am in the process of rebuilding the ceramics side of my work I am very interested in a newer kiln which will comfortably fire to high-fire so I can explore porcelain for sculpture, jewellery and functional ware - and I'd LOVE to do some gold lustre work on the porcelain too eventually.

I'm interested in using the ice-white surfaces - which porcelain offers - to paint and illustrate. I would adore the ability to merge my LOVE for ceramics and pastel drawing - perhaps finding a way to use the clay as a 3D canvas.

From what I have already found out with porcelain and hand building with it - it is a very different material to use than terracotta - and I am excited and motivated to work with it more, challenge myself, learn, explore and discover its secrets.

Stay tuned for more on my journey from Terracotta to Porcelain. I feel I am ready, I have basic experience behind me and will see where this takes me.

I learn - I soak up.
I challenge myself - I push out of my comfort zone.
I test the material - I see how far I can take it.
I will get frustrated - and will push through.

This is the start of a new ceramics phase for me.
I am rebuilding what was lost - but not through replacement.
Instead through rising, growing and turning a challenge into an opportunity.
An eager student am I... come to me Porcelain, let's see what we can create together!!

Thanks for reading,

~ All my LOVE,
Lee-Anne Peters

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