Published Feb 13, 2008
Today, ceramic artist Elina Brandt Hansen explains the method she came up with for getting the bright color she wanted out of her stoneware clay. By dressing her work up in colored porcelain "clothing," she was able to get the look she was after without breaking the bank. -J ennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor
I started to make surface embellishments for my sculpture out of colored white stoneware. After a short time, I noticed that I had to add up to 20% of certain stains in order to get the desired color. I realized that this method of coloring was far too expensive. I observed that colored porcelain offered me the range of colors I desired and wondered if it was possible to wrap stoneware pieces with thin sheets of colored porcelain. This would be cheaper than coloring white stoneware all the way through. Using slip was out of the question, because I wanted to use the plastic properties and qualities of the clay. To my great surprise, this technique worked perfectly, despite the 10% shrinkage difference between the porcelain and the stoneware. This combination only worked if the stoneware contained approximately 40% molochite grog. With this success, I was able to continue working with quite large, thick stoneware pieces yet still achieve the bright colors of porcelain. I begin by packing layers of different shapes and colors together. I follow a sketch to keep track of which color and shape is underneath. When the block is complete, I cut thin sheets at the cross section of the block to produce a thin, usable pattern. For many years, I have been rolling these thin sheets of patterned colored porcelain on top of slabs of stoneware (any size) or wrapping the sheets around stoneware coils that are up to 3 centimeters (1-1/4 inches) thick before cutting the coils and slabs into pieces.