Doing pottery as a profession is still fairly new for me, but it’s always nice to start something new within that realm. I’ve worked only with stoneware clay for the year I’ve been doing this, thinking that I wanted to have pretty good mastery of that medium before branching out. I’m now confident enough in my abilities (though I am by no means proficient), so yesterday I started working with porcelain.
If you haven’t ever worked with clay, here’s the basic difference that you feel when you are molding the clay with your hands: stoneware has coarser particles, which make it strong, rustic, and interesting (my viewpoint); porcelain has much finer particles, is smooth and silky, and is easier to stretch really really thin on the potter’s wheel.
Also, there’s a color difference (for me, because I love to use dark brown stoneware)–a glaze like a light green celadon that is no show-stopper on dark stoneware will look wonderful over the white porcelain surface. A whole new world of visual options is now opened up for me!
Yesterday and today I tried to make an assortment of objects, so I will be able to try some different glaze effects. I love to texture my pieces, but at the same time there’s just something about a perfectly smooth wheel-thrown pot that I just don’t want to spoil with markings.
I made 4 mugs–2 wheel-thrown and smooth, 2 hand-built and textured with lace. I can’t wait to see them finished!
Did I mention that the feel of porcelain is almost therapeutic? It’s like working with cream. Visually it has almost a miraculous whiteness when compared with the dark brown clay I’ve been working with. It’s much softer and easier for my tiny little arms to deal with–although I admit that I intend for years of doing pottery to make me into a wiry, strong little woman, so I won’t give up stoneware entirely.
A last note: porcelain also introduced me to an awesome word. Thixotropic. Porcelain is thixotropic, which means that it grows softer the more you work with it. Use this knowledge to impress your friends.