Stitching Ceramics – First Samples

Today I went to Blaze gallery and studio to collect some of the fired paper porcelain samples from Hanne Rysgaard, (see Archive for first Stitched Ceramics post) and brought them to my studio here to colour and stitch. I am primarily testing how much the porcelain shrinks when fired; Hanne calculates at 20% shrinkage but that I need to see what that looks like.  Then I can decide how big to make the dishes for the stencils and the shapes to impress into the surface – but even more importantly calculate the size of the holes I will eventually stitch.

drill bits with sizes and resulting size changes after one high firing. The dotted outline surrounding the sample is the original unfired size of the paper porcelain

It appears that the smaller the hole the less it appears to reduce and after firing they seem to fit the next smaller size –  so a 2.5 bit will now fit -just- into a 3.sized hole and as they all need smoothing with a file that seems easy enough. I chose to make most of the holes at 1.5 size drill bit and now this easily admits a medium sized crewel needle –  a sharp pointed needle with a long eye for threading thicker yarns.

drawing for ceramic dishes, drawn around my own hand; stitched wire flowers
sketches for hands, flowers and mending broken hearts dishes.

I made several pages of drawings for poems, mainly haiku on the subjects of flowers and hearts, written by a friend Rosemary Murphy, but also I liked the sayings about mending – now there’s a surprise! Anyway samples are made for the mending hands designs and the poems as this is the set of ideas that I have decided to develop into porcelain plates and dishes.

I also wanted to impress the hands as I had previously impressed the lace in the large sample plate – see first blog on Stitched Ceramics – so I used a hand that I had previouslycut out of  copper sheet using my plasma cutter, this was adapted from my letterhead which I have used for over 20 years. I also am waiting for another cardboard hand impression to be fired to make a comparison between metal and card.

The impressed hand is coloured with pale blue powdered enamel so that the outlines are seen more clearly, I think that this colour relates to the embroidery patterns I have been using as references in some of my  other stitched work. I am also considering how I want the lettering of the mottoes and poems written and below is a sample of a some stitched letters from a whole alphabet I had considered sewing in order to make individual stitched letter impresses, but they appear too indistinct at this tiny scale – I may return to this idea though for other works in porcelain or enamel.

So I will use the commercial stamped letters for the writing in this series of work, I like the way that the rather wonky stamps counter the more fluent and elegant hand impressions and drawings

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