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.