JEFF NIMEH

Porcelain Puzzle

The following images show what is beneath the surface of a porcelain vessel from recent blog post, http://jeffnimeh.com/blog/?p=1461.  It was an interesting challenge attempting to make these vessels nest perfectly while maintaining strength in the individual forms, and the form of the combined components (for example image #2 and #5).  This project forced me to push beyond what I thought might be technically possible in a potter's studio, and I hope to apply some of the lessons learned from this project to future ones.

For the potters out there, the round bottom of the vessel posed some interesting challenges in firing as it will not stand independently. Looking for a means to support the form during firing and a material with an extremely high firing temperature,  I first attempted to fire the piece in a bed of alumina hydrate powder, but there was some much volatility from the release of chemically bound water molecules it made the piece fall over during the firing.  Next, I tried firing it in a bed of alumina oxide powder, but it left a thin (non removable) yellowish coating on the porcelain.  Last, to great success, I fired in a bed of silicon dioxide powder (silica).  The powder brushed off the piece after firing and there was no discoloration due to the inert nature of the substance.  I should have tried this in the first place I suppose.  Note, the exterior of the bottom piece is unglazed.  Clearly this would not work without sticking in the presence of glaze.  I also made six pieces in total; two survived the final firing after all the experimentation.

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