Ever since porcelain was formulated in China early this millennium
and became known in the west around the 16th century, it has been
prized for its whiteness and translucency. These features are due
to the particular purity of the ingredients and high firing temperature
leading to vitrification. The disadvantage of porcelain is its handling
difficulties. To retain whiteness, little ball-clay is used, leading
to what in ceramic terms is called a 'short' or 'non-plastic' body.
This limits the size of wheel-thrown porcelain vessels and even
hand-built work. High firing may also lead to warping or slumping.
Translucency is a feature that can particularly be seen in the
work of Dutch ceramic artist Jeroen
Bechtold. Both Marianne
Huhn and Souriana
Boukhalife have found interesting ways to express themselves
in porcelain. I myself come from a background in working with porcelain
and have been particularly interested in the technique of
Watercolours on Porcelain, a technique that works with
soluble metal salts to achieve decorative effects.
But translucency is not something all porcelain artists strive
to achieve as can be seen in vessels glazed in copper red or celadon
glazes or possibly even painted with underglaze colors.
Porcelain, while a difficult clay to master, can yield great results,
as many ceramic artists who work with the medium will readily testify.