Working with ceramics
Photo: France Goneau, Yane (detail), Japon 2010, site web
As part of an obsession to learn as many craft techniques as possible, I decided to take a course at L’École de Joaillerie de Montreal in Earthenware for Jewellery. The course was taught by ceramic sculptor, France Goneau. France introduced us to the basic techniques of working with the ceramics, including earthenware and porcelain. She demonstrated with different tools, talked about small set-up in our own studios and introduced us to the possibilities of glazing. We also discussed introducing metal into ceramics, for example, how to insert a hook, how to set a finished piece and the possibilities of connecting these parts. The class was great as it was the perfect combination of demonstrations, discussion and exploration. Within a couple of weeks, everyone was well on their way, building, sculpting, printing, glazing and forming pieces.
Earthenware as a medium is wet, sticky and hard to control, but if you work on a couple pieces at a time, letting the others dry in between, you may find a rythum that works for you. I personally, fell in love with Porcelain. I like the way it holds its moisture, the elasticity of the material and of course, the clean white colour.
The addition of ceramic as a medium is a great material if you are looking to expand on your basic repetoir of metal and stones. In relation to metal prices, ceramic clays are much less expensive. You can create large three dimensional forms, use tools to create pattern and texture and set the material into your own custom metal framework.
Tooling and set up for a beginner is fairly simple. You will need little sponges to dry areas, as well as reintroduce moisture back into the surfaces. You will need a few ceramic forming tools like a ribbon tool, a paintbrush, a wooden sculpting tool, a large wooden board, pastics bags and a rolling pin. You will also need various kiln accessories, if you plan on buying a kiln.
The most costly aspect of working with ceramics, is the kiln. All ceramics require firing, so without a kiln, you can never really finish a piece. At Atelier L’Echoppe, there is a little, but mighty powerful kiln where you can bring your ceramic pieces to be fired. They also some ceramic forming tools, wooden blocks and other things to dress up your pieces before you are ready to introduce them into your latest collection of jewellery.
If you are interested in seeing the use of ceramics in jewellery have a look at the following artists. You can also visit, Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h who carries the work of a couple of these artists.