Have you been interested in working with porcelain clay or wanting to learn more about it? Well you’ve come to the right post. No doubt you’re familiar already with porcelain per se, it’s a common material that is used for many decorative objects of art.
It is also used in non art ways, such as dental fillings, building material and insulation for electrical engineering.
Of course, let’s look at at porcelain as a crafting material, which I know is what you came here for. So let’s dive in now:
What is porcelain clay?
Porcelain clay is a substance made primarily of kaolinate which as a fine texture. Its origins go a way back – think back to ancient China as a matter of fact, as the material used in high class flatware known as china, that’s why, due to its location of origin. Yes, it’s just spelled as a lower-case noun.
As the material became popular and spread across China to others like continental Europe, different forms of porcelain were developed, like “bone china” and hard paste….this type is made up of feldspar and silica.
Porcelain vs Clay
It’s similar to pottery clay in some ways but there’s a few differences – one o the big ones is its composition – it consists of kaolin, so it has a finer grain texture than what you may know as pottery clay. All porcelains have one thing in common that classic ceramic clay doesn’t, the objects made with it are translucent if held up to a light source on the surface they will always be white, usually.
If you go through some of your dinnerware if you’re an antique collector, chances are you may have something of this nature. Hold it up to light to see, this will tell you that it’s porcelain. You may have also seen porcelain dolls, vases, miniatures, and decorative pieces like candlesticks, dishes and jewelry holders. It is considered very strong although it does seem delicate, especially to look at.
Porcelain objects do need to be kiln fired to finish, and they often take higher temperatures than pottery clay, due to the granular makeup.
What is Cold Porcelain?
Have you ever heard of cold porcelain as well? This strictly means the clay can harden on its own without help from an oven or kiln. It’s ideal for those of you who would like to sculpt intricate objects with the fewest amount of materials necessary. You will still need all the other tools I talk about earlier. So “cold” pretty much means you don’t need to use an oven.
You can purchase porcelain clay in bulk just in the same form as its modelling and polymer sisters, its price range is about the same. It’s also made to air dry too, so no need to worry about the kiln. Also the brand Sculpey makes one of them so you’re in good hands since this is a trusted brand I use. It’s also known as cold porcelain clay since it fits the criteria I mentioned in the earlier paragraph.
This clay dries translucent too, and can handle delicate objects well, you can also use molds as well as tools. You can also add color to it if you wish, I would start with a small amount of acrylic paint.
Or you can DIY your own too! Cold porcelain clay is a popular diy craft project that kids and adults enjoy doing. And the method is simple too, it is similar to my air dry recipe but there;s a little variation of the ingredients.
DIY Cold Porcelain Clay Recipe
1 cup of cornstarch
1 cup of white PVA glue
2 tbsp of mineral or baby oil
2 tbsp of white vinegar
On a stovetop on low heat mix together the first two ingredients, stir gently, then add the oil and vinegar. Continue to stir on low heat and watch as it solidifies, the liquid will drain out of it somewhat, and it will begin to thicken. You’ll know because your instrument may begin to brake. At this point, turn off and let cool as it’s going to be too hot to do anything with it yet, use a plastic bag to knead it into a ball.
Keep it in this bag until you are ready to use it. Vinegar has a preservative effect but you still have to keep the bag sealed to prevent drying. When you are ready to use it, make sure you use some moisturizing agent like glycerin so it won’t be as sticky to work with. Which is a common problem with air dry clay, porcelain or not.
Also, just like the air dry kind I mention earlier, it may take up to 24 hours to fully dry, you will also want to preserve it with varnish or lacquer, and paint it with acrylics too, before sealing, if you wish. Sculpting with cold porcelain clay is not that different. Have fun!