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Hi,

I'm interested in painting/glazing porcelain, not ceramic, dinnerware for a one-time decorating task, but am not interested in learning this craft at your advanced level. My overall design inspiration for my camper trailer is an under-the-sea ocean look, and I'm obsessed with the salt and pepper shakers shown below,  but they're made in China and the company didn't make coordinating dinnerware. I like the bowl shown below because it reminds me of a sea cucumber.

My reasons for doing this is because I'm seeking an organic look; am concerned about health issues which may be associated with glazes that come from China;  and I mostly want smaller items, such as luncheon plates, 12 oz mugs, and 4-5 inch bowls. I want my end result to be as sturdy as possible, and to be dishwasher, microwave, and oven-safe. Here are my questions:

1.  Is it possible to buy pre-made porcelain forms (plates, bowls,  cups) that are untreated and ready for painting and firing? (Traditional style,  not rustic freeform).

2.  Can the dishwasher, microwave, oven-safe porcelain medium be purchased in raw form, and be rolled and hand shaped into rustic items (plates, mugs, bowls) like the bowl below without expensive tools or a wheel?

3.  If I am able to purchase forms or raw materials, who could I contact in the Pacific Northwest to fire/finish the items? Where would I find a list of kiln firing businesses? 

4.  If I can't purchase raw materials or forms, but still wanted to participate in the creative process,  could I hire someone to make the forms, and then finish them once I've painted them?

5.  If none of these options are possible,  are there artists I could hire to make some small, sturdy, freeform dinnerware for me using safe glazes?

Thanks for reviewing my questions, and for your time in answering them. I eagerly await your responses!

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Not to be snarky, but what you show as wanting to make is not newbie material, and to Learn how to make those will require more effort than it sounds like you want to put in. "us advanced" artists have worked hundreds and thousands of hours to perfect a very basic process which you want to learn to do in a weekend. Save yourself the hassle, and pay "one of us pro's" to do it, but be prepared, we don't work for near as cheap as the Chinese do. Find the artist whose work you like and buy what they make as part of their standard line. If they have to custom design and make work for you it will cost you much more (I charge $80/hr for custom work). Glazes fall into same category; the bowl is glazed in a what looks like floating blue at cone 6, and fairly common recipe but not every Potter is using it, or willing to add a glaze into their palette just for you, without charging you handsomely for it. When it comes to food safety and glazes; there unfortunately is no certification for small potteries to go through to meet safety certs so you're gonna have to trust the artist, which most full time professionals are credible but some idiots still exist. Some artists may allow you to participate in the making process but be a little more open to the creative process, and be more interested than "not wanting to learn it as much as we do".  

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Why porcelain. 

1. Non porcelain yes.  I’ve not seen any in porcelain. 

2. Yes all the raw materials can be purchased. Unfortunately as hichmss pointed out you’ll need some practise. 

3. Research ceramic store/ shop in your area. Or nearby. Talk to them. They will probably be able to help you more than we can. And they might offer classes for you to learn. Or look for a clay studio and ask them where they get their supplies.  

4. If you are willing to make the financial commitment I don’t see why not. Again a local store or studio might give you better leads than here.  You might have to negotiate or not get exactly what you want. Or you might something even better.  However even painting is a learning process. Are you willing to put in the time and effort?

5. Not sure why you have to hire them if you are talking about some simple bowls.  Walk into any studio and see what they have to offer. Different sizes of bowls are one of  the most common things potters make. 

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Great questions, and the simplest answer to questions 1-4 is: take a pottery class. In general, you either need to a part of  the entire process or not. I don't think you'll find an artist who is willing to make pieces for you to paint. I know I wouldn't. If you want to buy my work, great, but I'm not going to collaborate with someone I don't know. You can buy bisque ware that is ready to be glazed, but it will be low-fire white clay, not porcelain. It won't be as durable. You'll have a hard time finding someone to fire your work for you without being a part of their system. There are way too many potential problems with firing pottery for people who aren't educated in the process. Personally, I will only fire for my students. Yes, you can absolutely buy good functional dinnerware from a potter, but you will only get to dictate the look of it to a certain degree, like pick from a few glazes and forms. If you really want something specific, and want to be a part of the process, take a pottery class. In the Pacific Northwest there are a lot of places to do it.

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the sea urchin shell mold is one that is available in the US.  i saw that very thing in a local Paint Your Own Pottery shop up the road last week.  of course, it is done in cone 06 earthenware clay.  since you insist on porcelain, you might not want that at all but it is only a salt and pepper set.    i would think there is very little "danger" in having that in your RV.

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If you go in Seattle to Seattle Pottery Supply, they have a selection of bisque-fired white but not porcelain ware similar to what paint-your-own places offer.

You can paint them at home, using glazes you can also get at SPS, and bring them back for firing, provided they know the glazes you have used are suitable for the object.

Alternatively, if it must be porcelain,  you can buy a bag of porcelain clay there for maybe 12 dollars for 20 pounds. You can also buy one of their bisque plates to use as a mold. At home roll out some porcelain with a rolling pin like you were rolling out cookie dough. Place your plate upside down on it and cut around. Flip the whole thing over and let it sit overnight or longer. until it can come up out of the plate without sticking or losing its shape.

This might work for your lunch plates.

 

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Newbie, I agree with all here.  If you want to be part of the process without taking classes, find a Paint your own Pottery studio.  It would not be porcelain, but you would be able to find white bodied pieces.  It would not be high or mid fire, but you can find many lovely colors in the low fire glazes.  However, with that being said, from the questions you were asking, I think you might enjoy (become addicted) to clay like the rest of us here!!  So a 6 week intro to pottery class might be a consideration!  Good luck.

 

Roberta

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newbie 18,  you can get some porcelain as gabby suggested and use Chinet brand paper luncheon plates to form the porcelain into plates.   our member, pugaboo tells how to do that.  you can use the "search" function  on this forum to find out how.

it would be nice to hear the results from you.

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There are white cone 6 stoneware blanks to be had but they are limited in shape. Learning to glaze is a large challenge so be prepared to waste quite a bit of blanks on the learning process.

If you are liking the sea theme pottery maybe look for some florida or shore side potters that already make something similar to what you want and order something from them. I have seen many fellow florida potters working in the theme and style you seem to be wanting.

Edited by PSC
Added info and typos

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On April 16, 2018 at 11:10 PM, Newbie18 said:

Hi,

I'm interested in painting/glazing porcelain, not ceramic, dinnerware for a one-time decorating task, but am not interested in learning this craft at your advanced level. 

Hi and welcome!

This first statement is problematic, given the scope of what you wish to do.  It isn't necessary to become an expert by any stretch, but ceramics isn't one of those mediums that is conducive to a one-off project that looks good. Ceramics can be a pretty technical field.  Working with clay is like playing a musical instrument: everyone is bad at it to start with, and you improve with practice. We can answer the questions you've posed here, but everything will have qualifiers on it.

Quote

My reasons for doing this is because I'm seeking an organic look; am concerned about health issues which may be associated with glazes that come from China;  and I mostly want smaller items, such as luncheon plates, 12 oz mugs, and 4-5 inch bowls. I want my end result to be as sturdy as possible, and to be dishwasher, microwave, and oven-safe. Here are my questions:

1.  Is it possible to buy pre-made porcelain forms (plates, bowls,  cups) that are untreated and ready for painting and firing? (Traditional style,  not rustic freeform).

Yes, it is possible, but if you want them out of porcelain, they'll likely be a special order of some kind from a mould maker, and they're likely to have a minimum order that is larger than will be cost effective for a project to outfit your camper with. They will be widely available from a paint-your-own pottery place in a white earthenware (or ceramic), as others have mentioned.

Quote

2.  Can the dishwasher, microwave, oven-safe porcelain medium be purchased in raw form, and be rolled and hand shaped into rustic items (plates, mugs, bowls) like the bowl below without expensive tools or a wheel?

Yes, you can purchase clay from a supplier and make your own with minimal equipment through handbuilding methods.  But they will not look like the pictures you've posted on the first, or even the twentieth try.  There is unfortunately no way around the practice.

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3.  If I am able to purchase forms or raw materials, who could I contact in the Pacific Northwest to fire/finish the items? Where would I find a list of kiln firing businesses? 

This you will have to research yourself, and you could start with anywhere that teaches pottery classes.  Your lack of technical knowledge will hamper your ability to find someone who is willing to work with you for a one-off project however, because beginners tend to make mistakes that cost a lot of money in terms of damaged kiln shelves and other equipment.  The owner of the kiln is either going to want you to prove some sort of technical competence, or want to supervise you from the start so that they can limit the number of things that can go wrong. Neil's suggestion of taking a class with someone is indeed the best way to solve this problem if you are very dedicated to making these pieces with your own hands. 

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4.  If I can't purchase raw materials or forms, but still wanted to participate in the creative process,  could I hire someone to make the forms, and then finish them once I've painted them?

This is the scenario that I think is the least likely. Neither of the images you've posted were achieved by "painting" anything. They've been glazed, which is a different process than painting underglaze on a piece like you would at a paint-your-own place, which is where you'd find pre made work for you to decorate.  We've already established that it won't be made out of porcelain at such a venue, though.  Glazing  and underglaze painting also don't look the same at all, and I get the impression the final visual look is very important to you.  I have never heard of a potter willing to make forms for others to decorate, and then have the potter fire them. It's not a cost effective business model.

Quote

5.  If none of these options are possible,  are there artists I could hire to make some small, sturdy, freeform dinnerware for me using safe glazes?

If you don't wish to become proficient and you want a really good end result, this is the best way for you to go. Having made bespoke work reasonably often myself, I can say that going in knowing a little bit about what is possible with the process and what isn't, will ease your search. I would start out by researching potters in your area, and looking for people that have a set of glazes that you like. (Forms are much faster to develop from scratch than glazes are.) Find a potter that has a style at least half way to what you like so that no one is trying to reinvent any wheels, and the design process will go much more smoothly.  Allow the potter to have input: they are an artist, and you're paying them for their artistic sensibilities and their technical expertise.  They know what they and their materials are and aren't capable of. Let them explain how things work and heed them. Once the design is hammered out, be prepared to pay at least a 50% deposit before work begins. Be aware that a custom design should cost more than something in a potter's regular line. 

Hope this was helpful!

Edited by Callie Beller Diesel
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