PHOSSILS – the painting process on porcelain
I handpaint with oxides all my work on biscuit porcelain but I’m often asked how I print the photographs onto the porcelain, which I don’t. So I’m hoping this text and sequence of images might make things clearer. There is also a short film called ‘Walking with Ghosts‘ which shows in parts the process too.
The process is long involving preparation of flat plates from fresh porcelain. Once dry, they are fired in a kiln at approx. 900ºc. I then handpaint directly onto the ‘biscuit’ porcelain using a mixture of powdered oxide and several other ingredients, including powdered porcelain and glue. Once I’m satisfied with the painting, I create a white frame/border and fire it a second and final time at approx. 1280ºc.
What fascinates me is how during the firing process, chance and fire take control – the work is no longer under my grasp once the kiln lid closes. As with developping photographs, a process takes the author’s work somewhere else, not necessarily a dramatic turn but somewhere possibly not foreseen. As an artist, I value this lack of control and I look forward (just as I used to when waiting for developping photos) to seeing what the intense heat and this ancient, fragile, noble and tough material have done with my work.