Sunday, January 9, 2011

If You Work With Porcelain Clay, Wear Cashmere and Black Pants

If you plan to do what I do, wear comfortable clothing, and if it is cold, wear a comfortable sweater.

I wear cashmere because that is what I have at home, lol, and I actually also sleep in cashmere sweater if it's cold. I do also wear black pants once in a while. Why? Because these help me be careful, be responsible and avoid messing up my place. I also have a vacuum cleaner. Clay dries and falls on the floor or falls on the floor and dries. Liquid clay can spill if you're not careful.

I also have my computer and my television nearby. I tend to watch animation because it gives me ideas on the doll project. The refrigerator and coffeemaker are near me. And, I just bought chocolate and candy.

Well, what I'm saying is that you make sure you are happy and comfortable while doing what you're doing, because that's how you will want to stick to your project and see it through. And, if you happen to get into your project and your project needs a lot of time and effort, you just might end up being antisocial and alone for a while, like me, but happily so, so where else can you wear your cashmere?

What is the difference between Polymer Clay Dolls / Figures & Ceramic Clay Dolls / Figures?

When you make a polymer clay doll or figure, the final figure is the finished artwork.

Polymer clay is very smooth, because whatever particles or chemical compounds that comprise it are definitely very, very miniscule. Once you are happy with the sculpture, the figure can be placed in a regular oven, with the temperature set to between 215 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, the specific temperature depending on the brand or type of clay used. Polymer clay comes in many colors, which remain the same after the baking process, or the clay can be painted over and glazed.

On the other hand, ceramic figures go through a lot more steps / processes. Here is what I do.

I first sculpt using polymer clay. Each movable part is sculpted separately. As each piece is finished, it is placed in a small toaster oven, and baked for about 6 to 9 minutes. I use a toaster oven because the parts I make are small, and I am also not particular with the temperature - I can undercook or overcook the polymer clay, or even but it a little. This is okay because this is not the final set of pieces that would be the artwork.

Molds are made from the polymer clay pieces using plaster of paris. The molds have two to five pieces which are held together with rubber bands.  This is so that the ceramic clay can be easily removed from molds. The original polymer clay pieces are set aside.

Liquid ceramic clay (this is called a ceramic slip) is poured into the molds. The walls of the plaster of paris mold absorb some of the water in the liquid ceramic clay so a more solid clay begins to form, taking the shape of the mold. The middle portion of the slip will still be in liquid form, so after a few minutes of waiting for the clay to thicken, the excess liquid is poured out.

After a few more minutes, the clay inside the mold would be dry enough to be removed from the mold without losing its shape. The mold is dismantled, the clay is taken out and left to dry.

As the clay dries, certain steps can be done, but done at certain times best judged by an experience clay artist. Some notches and holes are carved out or drilled, and the excess clay from the seams of the mold is chiseled out or sanded. More drying is required.

Once dry, all the pieces are placed in the kiln. For the porcelain that I use, I set the kiln to about 2275 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why I call my kiln my little volcano. A regular baking oven cannot be used because "finalized" porcelain needs more than 5 times the temperature what is needed to bake a cake. In my mind, clay needs a volcano to fuse it. The kiln temperature rises by about three degrees per minute. Once it reaches 2275, I have the kiln programmed to hold that temperature for at least an hour, sometimes more. Then it slowly comes back down. The total process takes at least 13 hours and usually more. You cannot force the kiln to speed things up faster, and the same goes for the wait as the kiln cools down. The pieces are super hot, that they glow inside the kiln. You cannot force-cool the pieces because they are so hot, they can break easy when low temperature air comes in contact with them.

Color is applied, but the only usable colors are those for ceramics. Each layer needs to be "cooked" in the kiln, which means that if the colors need to be layered, as in the case of the eyes, the pieces need to be reheated in the kiln several times, and each time will need hours of heating and cooling, which means that the kiln stage alone can take days.

This explains why porcelain dolls take a long time to make. Also, in the case of ball-jointed dolls, the polymer clay stage also takes longer because I first sculpt the ball, bake the ball, then once it is hard, I attach to the ball the necessary part.

The reason why there are no ball-jointed polymer clay doll is that polymer clay is more brittle and much softer than ceramic clay. The parts can break off easily with just normal handling. On the other hand, ceramic / porcelain is like stone or glass. Porcelain does last forever, barring any accidental / unintentional breakage.

I hope you like this explanation. If you decide to work with either type of clay, however, you will need to read more, and to discover for yourself your own nuances, styles and revelations that only the actual experience of going through the process can provide.

If you have any questions, try to catch me on and I'll show you, live, what I have and what I go through to produce art for the collectors.

Progress Report

Since I started this blog, which I did when I was in Austin TX, I have made a lot of progress with the doll project.

I got lazy doing this blog.  I have been wondering if people would be interested in my journey or if they simply just want the finished art.  However, once in a while, it occured to me that a lot of people might want to see the process and how I am progressing to satisfy their curiosity or maybe some want to look into ceramics.

I have been working irregular hours on the dolls.  I would work for hours and some days I eventually sleep at 7 a.m. or even later, because you can get engrossed in the art / work if you like what you're doing.

Maybe, you, like me, also get dedicated to the point where you feel like you don't want to sleep if you have a momentum going.  If that is the case, and I wonder if you want some company -- I just joined Justin.TV, and I will be online every time I am working on my art.  If you want to be inspired, if you think you're the only one who is working in the wee hours of the night, alone, check me out online. If you see me working, then maybe you'll decide to work on stuff as well.

Kids, obviously, making an action figure or a doll is almost the same - they are both figures of men and women (or aliens / animals). If you want to see how I make a doll's face, I can make a nice-looking doll's face in less than 3 MINUTES.  Be reminded that working on ceramic clay, I race with time, because as the ceramic clay dries, there are procedures that need to be done while it is in liquid form, while it is drying, and when it is almost dry. So if you want me to make a quick demo, you sometimes might have to wait a few minutes before I can get up and get the polymer clay which is what I use for making the initial model or prototype. So follow me on

I expect people to behave properly, especially on, because kids are watching.

Here is my channel: