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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.

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