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Ju00Ls

Parian kiln firing question

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Hi,  just a quick beginners kiln firing question;  i'm hoping to fire some Parian sculpture this week in my kiln;  i've never fired Parian before,  can I lay the pieces down on their side to fill the kiln space better or will they mark or stick?   Previously, I had laid my stoneware bisque fired pieces on their side and they came out fine.

Regards
Jules

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Hi @Ju00Ls   - the pieces shouldn't stick to the shelves. However, you'll probably find that the 'bloom' or soft sheen associated with Parian will not develop at the spots where the pieces touch the shelves. It might look a bit odd, but then again it might not - it'll depend on your clay.

Your other problem might be warping if the pieces are set awkwardly. If you think of Parian as a sort of porcelain, then you'll be aware that it can soften a little as it reaches the temperature required for that beautiful alabaster effect.

What clay are you using? Is is a commercial mix (say - just a guess - from Scarva)? Or have you developed your own? I only ask because I started a Parian thread way back here.

Edited by Sputty

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Hi @Sputty    the Parian was sold ready mixed as a casting slip from Potclays.co.uk;    a link to the product is here https://www.potclays.co.uk/studio/products/5288/original-parian-semi-porcelain-casting-slip-5lt     I had read about the softening,  I was thinking of hitting 1200c to maybe 1215c range to be on the safe side in case it went too soft and couldn't support itself (no idea to be honest :) ).   If it works out I might well look at Scarva and source the raw ingredients;  with some help from your great Parian topic thread  :-)  (which I will re-read tonight)

Did you have any preferred firing profiles for Parian?   I was just going to use a 2 segment stoneware and tweak the upper last segment to 1215c

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2 minutes ago, Ju00Ls said:

Did you have any preferred firing profiles for Parian?   I was just going to use a 2 segment stoneware and tweak the upper last segment to 1215c

I fired my various Parian experiments as though I was doing a raw-glazing exercise, based on the fact that I didn't biscuit it first. So, I followed a slow biscuit to about 1000 deg C (bearing in mind the thickness of the pieces), and then as though a glaze firing up to maturity, with a hold of 30 minutes or so at top temp.

I have to say that I never did get the exact results I was looking for! I was trying to replicate the Victorian material (e.g. see my avatar), but it proved rather elusive...  I spent a long, long while ploughing through any information I could find from the original producers of Parian, all of whom seemed a bit vague and sometimes contradictory as to the exact make-up of their bodies. It was great fun, and I learned a lot, but I ended up going in a slightly different direction with my efforts at sculpture (paper-clay porcelain).

It wouldn't take much to get me back to trying Parian, though! I'd be very interested to see the results of your testing the Pot-Clays offering.

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34 minutes ago, High Bridge Pottery said:

Pretty sure I fired some of that clay for a friend a few years back to cone6, don't remember any warping or sticking. Didn't look that self-glazed either.

Perhaps 'self-glazed' is misleading - we're not talking shiny here. It's a porcelain style body, but very heavily fluxed. At its best, the effect is like no other - a sort of surface translucence, an alabaster sheen, cool and silky, almost like a muted marble surface.

Originally the material was developed to allow reproductions of classical statuary into the homes of the Victorian middle-class, otherwise unable to afford fine art. There was a period of perhaps 30 years where some astonishing work was created by Copeland amongst others, before the tat merchants moved in, produced rubbish, and tastes changed as a result. Almost an entirely British phenomenon - there were a few US producers, but they failed to achieve the refinement (or perhaps even the interest) of the British. And there was little if any interest on mainland Europe.

As far as I know, virtually no-one now produces Parian ware commercially, and those that claim to do so are producing tawdry nonsense (insert well-known anonymous Irish factory here).

The clay sold as Parian by the UK suppliers is, I suspect, a poor substitute for the original formulation. Not that I've tried it, but I have a suspicious mind. Pot-Clays state that theirs, for example, gains a grey cast when taken to higher temps. The Victorians knew a thing or two; shame they forgot to tell anyone.

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1 hour ago, Sputty said:

Perhaps 'self-glazed' is misleading - we're not talking shiny here. It's a porcelain style body, but very heavily fluxed. At its best, the effect is like no other - a sort of surface translucence, an alabaster sheen, cool and silky, almost like a muted marble surface.

Originally the material was developed to allow reproductions of classical statuary into the homes of the Victorian middle-class, otherwise unable to afford fine art. There was a period of perhaps 30 years where some astonishing work was created by Copeland amongst others, before the tat merchants moved in, produced rubbish, and tastes changed as a result. Almost an entirely British phenomenon - there were a few US producers, but they failed to achieve the refinement (or perhaps even the interest) of the British. And there was little if any interest on mainland Europe.

As far as I know, virtually no-one now produces Parian ware commercially, and those that claim to do so are producing tawdry nonsense (insert well-known anonymous Irish factory here).

The clay sold as Parian by the UK suppliers is, I suspect, a poor substitute for the original formulation. Not that I've tried it, but I have a suspicious mind. Pot-Clays state that theirs, for example, gains a grey cast when taken to higher temps. The Victorians knew a thing or two; shame they forgot to tell anyone.

interesting stuff!

well,  I would assume (hope) potclays comment means "over the recommended" temps.    Anyway, assuming everything is good with the clay etc I will try some pieces at 1240c and also try some at 1200c.   I might have to get another thermocouple before I fire so i'm dead on the mark.

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1 hour ago, Rae Reich said:

My first exposure to Parian was in reference to the material used for doll's heads and hands. Might there be useful information from doll making sources?

Ah, now that's an interesting thought. As I understand it, 'Parian' dolls were almost exclusively German (sometimes - perhaps mistakenly - referred to as Dresden dolls), and sometimes simply unglazed, bisqued porcelain was/is erroneously referred to as Parian. But the dates are later than the flourishing of the art in Britain by a couple of decades, and the heads and hands produced weren't necessarily as fine, or the surfaces so ethereal. I stand to be corrected on this, however; dolls aren't something I know much about (apart from the fact that some of the Victorian/Edwardian examples are beyond strange and spooky). I'm not sure where to begin researching German manufacturing processes - anyone out there have a clue?

 

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