iceland – week two – tests and experiments

The second week in the ceramics department at the Reykjavik School of Visual arts was also full of experiments with different materials. Here are two different exercises we did during the week, but of course there were more – and also some lectures.

Porcelain

I started with some little experiments in mold making. The teachers idea was to get to know the characteristics of porcelain, for example how fast it dries in a plaster mold (which depends on the dryness of the plaster) or how to know it’s “leather hard” (which is the best state to start taking off the mold). It was also a good exercise to learn how breakable porcelain is and how to make the finishing with sharp tools and a sponge.

The first picture shows the porcelain in a very simple mold made from plaster “ice cubes”. The second picture shows the “leather hard” porcelain, which means the mold can be taken away carefully. In the third picture: some of the experiments after finishing, but still unfired.

Glazes

I also got the chance to try to make some own glazes. I chose a recipe from the library and started measuring the chemicals and colors, which was a surprisingly long and precise process. After adding water, mixing, sifting, dipping the pre-burnt test piece into the glaze, I added some other colorants to see how they behave with the final glaze.

Through this experiment, I learnt how to choose the right recipe, how to mix the chemicals to a glaze and how to apply it on a test piece. It was interesting to see how the glazes turned out – some were too thick and needed more water, some of the test pieces had too much glaze on them. But the teacher said they turned out good for a beginner, so I was quite happy to have a quite good test result in such a delicate and difficult area of this amazing craft. As I got to know the materials better day by day I fell in love with ceramics even more. It seems to give you endless possibilities – if only you like working precise and know how to handle the different materials. It takes time and endurance, know-how – which means lot of testing and experimenting in so many different areas.

 

The first picture shows the measuring of the chemicals and colors, the second shows the unburned test pieces. In the third picture the glazing test are burned and ready for to analyze what could be changed in the working process.

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