Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Complete Newbie Wanting To Try Slip Casting

slip lithophanes porcelain

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 phoenix02

phoenix02

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 10 October 2013 - 02:45 AM

 Hello all!

 

My name is Michael. I am a woodworker by trade, and have always wanted to integrate ceramics into my furniture and other pieces i make. I think the time has finally come to dive in, as I have a real project I want to try.

 

I have a CNC router I use for making complex things my meager carving skills cannot do. Of these things, backlit lithophanes in corian is one of them. They come out wonderful, but my problem is the cut time- for a 5x7 litho, you can be looking at 5 hours each. Also, there are more people with CNCs in their garage that are playing with lithophanes; the market online is getting flooded with people putting out product.

 

My idea is to manufacture the original style lithophanes- in porcelain. The plan is to make a master on the CNC, use that to make a plaster mold and slip cast out of the mold. These will be made into luminaries, lamp shades, art pieces, etc.

 

I have the corian. I have the plaster. I need a kiln, I need slip.

 

- I am thinking to go with a medium fire porcelain, something ^6 max for the kilns I've been looking at. Needs to have good translucency for the lithophane to work. Any ideas on a slip to use? I am in Southern California, so it seems Laguna is the standard around here.

 

-Kiln; 110v or 220v? Here's the contenders thus far:

     -Paragon A-88B. 220v. Comes with 6 half shelves. $100

     -Cress B1411-H. 120v. Comes with 1 shelf. $75

     -Cress B27-H. 220v. Comes with an analog pyrometer and a couple ceramic casting molds. $100

 

I am on a very tight budget to try this out, which is why I'm looking at these options. from a price perspective, the Paragon seems to be the cheapest option to get started, as it comes with shelves. The others are pretty much useless without further expenditure on furniture. Both the Paragon and the B1411 have chipping and small missing pieces of the firebrick, with cracking in the bottom. The B27-H looks to be in very good shape with minimal fire brick chipping, no real breaks and no cracks in the bottom. From a condition standpoint, the B27-H is the best option. For ease of testing, footprint and electrical use, the B1411 is the best.

 

I know slip casting lithophanes will take some testing to learn how to do properly, trying to get a good firing without warpage or cracking due to the thinness of the material. Is this really much harder than I think it is? Am I doomed to failure without years of experience with other materials/ designs?

 

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you,

Michael



#2 Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell

    clay stained since 1988

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,321 posts
  • LocationRaleigh, NC

Posted 10 October 2013 - 10:16 AM

Michael
The first thing I will say is that there are offshore sources for porcelain lithophane objects like these, so trying make a profit in that price range might be difficult. I would encourage you to check out the competition before you commit money and time to this learning curve.

It will take you a good chunk of time to learn to use the materials and manage the processes. Porcelain is demanding, slip casting needs to be learned, multiple thicknesses in one piece is tricky to dry and fire.

However ... If it's a dream of yours, go for it. Who knows what wonderful and unique avenues will open up for you to explore! Just be patient, give yourself time to learn and fail and learn.

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
http://www.ccpottery.com/

https://www.facebook...88317932?ref=hl

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#3 Stephen

Stephen

    novice

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 306 posts

Posted 10 October 2013 - 10:36 AM

A word of caution on older kilns, could be a great deal but be sure and research the elements for replacement availability and cost and see if you can determine the shape of the elements in the used kiln. New controllers display the number of firings but I don't think the older ones do. Worn out elements might still have a number of low firings left but not be able to reach mid/high range temps you mention. Also most need dedicated circuits and you may need to rewire the plugs.

 

These things can make the end cost of a $100 kiln closer to a new one even if you do all the work yourself.



#4 phoenix02

phoenix02

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 10 October 2013 - 10:52 AM

Thank you for the reply!

 

I know there's cheap lithophanes available. There's cheap everything available; that should not prevent us from trying to put out a better, skillfully made product in the same vein. I make furniture, cabinets, etc, in an Ikea world. It's hard and the clientele pool is small, but I try and I enjoy what I do. I also certainly do not attempt to compete on price; if a client cannot understand the stark difference betwixt a hand made, original design heirloom and an offshore mass produced particle board monstrosity, well, they're not the kind looking for my kind of work. :) As I'm sure you all know, it's hard to find the customer base, but they're out there... somewhere. 

 

I've been enamored with the concept of lithophanes for a long time; I think they are amazingly beautiful and a niche market that in my experience, people are apt to purchase for the wow factor. In adding them to an existing piece, such as a lamp shade on a custom lathe turned hardwood lamp, or inlaid with LED backers in the apron of a table, I think they would be amazing and sell ok. Well, as with everything, I hope they would. :)

 

I am a photographer, my grandfather is a photographer, and my great grandfather was a photographer. Although it helped me put myself through college doing headshots and weddings, All 3 of us are amateurs, but I have a good library of nature, location and still life photography to pull from for original pieces. My grandfather traveled the world in his job, so there's work in Asia and Europe from the 60s- early 90s. My great grandfather would go on photography tours of the US every couple years, so there's photos of America and Americana from the 40s to the 80s. 

 

Here's another idea- anyone know what it would cost to sub out the work? I could make the master, make some plaster molds and hand them off to a ceramics specialist that already knows how to do all this and has the tools to do it properly. I stay in my little fab shop cocoon working with wood, metal and plastic and let the other guy do what he does best. Perhaps that would be a better option. 

 

Keep the input coming! Thank you.

 

-Michael



#5 Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell

    clay stained since 1988

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,321 posts
  • LocationRaleigh, NC

Posted 10 October 2013 - 11:19 AM

I have seen work combining porcelain with wood or with metal to accentuate its translucency and it is lovely.

 

Not being a technical person at all ... how thick would the piece of porcelain have to be to be able to use it with the CNC router? Could you just start with a fired flat tile of porcelain? Robin Hopper uses porcelain substrates to paint on and I think they come in many thicknesses.

 

http://www.ceramicar...t_Products.html


Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
http://www.ccpottery.com/

https://www.facebook...88317932?ref=hl

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#6 phoenix02

phoenix02

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 10 October 2013 - 11:31 AM

No, unfortunately porcelain is not a media that can be cut, at least to my knowledge. :) I make masters out of 1/4" thick corian countertop material. This is what I currently use to make lithophanes; the idea is to translate this into Porcelain by using the corian as a master to make a plaster mold and slip cast from there. 



#7 GEP

GEP

    Moderator / full time potter ^6 stoneware

  • Moderators
  • 892 posts
  • LocationSilver Spring, MD

Posted 10 October 2013 - 11:34 AM

CAD Bookstore has a DVD in the basics of moldmaking/slipcasting:

http://ceramicartsda...nd-slipcasting/

I don't own this, but I've watched the excerpts and am thinking of buying this for myself.
Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
http://www.goodelephant.com

#8 JBaymore

JBaymore

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,062 posts
  • LocationWilton, NH USA

Posted 10 October 2013 - 12:58 PM

I also certainly do not attempt to compete on price;.................

 

Ah... Michael "gets it".  :)

 

Why is it that it appears (at least to me) that people working in craft mediums outside of clay seem to understand this concept while so many ceramic artist don't?

 

Chris's point is very well taken though........ you simply cannot compete with the offshore stuff.  I'd say that from his follow up postingt it is clear that Michael is not gouing to try to do that. 

 

A huse issue in JAPAN at the moment (and for the past 5-7 years or so) is that the production of cheap ceramic tablewares in China is causing much of their Japanese production pottery type facilities to shut down.  THEY can't compete either.

 

best,

 

................john


John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#9 JBaymore

JBaymore

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,062 posts
  • LocationWilton, NH USA

Posted 10 October 2013 - 01:01 PM

No, unfortunately porcelain is not a media that can be cut, at least to my knowledge. :)

 Porcelain can be machined (water cooled diamond tipped tool heads, etc) .... but it is technically complex and expensive.  You likely don't want to go there.  Althought if you have good CAD CAM skills.... it might be an alternative for you.

 

It also can be sandblasted using masks. (later Edit:... "masks" as in pattern masks to resist the sand.... but you'd want to wear a respirator too ;) .)

 

best,

 

..............john


John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#10 JBaymore

JBaymore

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,062 posts
  • LocationWilton, NH USA

Posted 10 October 2013 - 01:05 PM

Michael,

 

For outsourcing...... contact Jonathan Kaplan at Plinth Gallery in Denver Colorado for leads on contracting it out.  He is no longer doing contract mfg. work.... but he knows the slipcasting field and the mold making field WELL and likely could give you some leads/references.

 

best,

 

..............john


John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#11 PeterH

PeterH

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 200 posts

Posted 10 October 2013 - 02:33 PM

Michael,

 

In my daydreams I've thought about trying lithophanes, and I'll be interested to hear how you get on.

Here are a few refs, some from memory, some just quick lookups in case they are any help.

 

Firstly, this snippet suggests that you might want ro fire the body a little higher than usual to maximise

translucency. As I assume that you will be firing the "tile" flat any extra slumping should not be an issue:

http://www.amaco.com...-talc-free.html

 

Secondly, a few overviews of [parts of] the process:

http://www.denfordat...ne_tutorial.pdf

http://anewceramicfu...lithophane-day/

http://www.alternati...urytype-process

... note that you some people use the mould for slip-casting and others for press-moulding.

... and one ref uses Vaseline (presumably to reduce the drying rate).

 

AFAIK the preferred method for casting tiles is cast-solid with a backing surface rather than an open

mould. This makes the clay alignment similar on both surfaces, and also makes drying more uniform.

Although the thinness of the lithophane may preclude this.

 

Two "historical" descriptions, both emphasising a high failure rate in production:

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Lithophane

http://www.gather.co...281474978896343

.

Regards, Peter

 

PS If there is a local craft centre it might be worth taking the first few steps (and firings) with a little

assistance.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: slip, lithophanes, porcelain

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users