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Susie

Carving Porcelain

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I am just beginning to try carving porcelain. I am waiting until its leather hard, but when carving out larger areas, the surface gets very lumpy and uneven. Seems like I just make it worse when I try to smooth it out. I love to carve but this is frustrating me. I am using a variety of tiny loop tools. Thanks

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Hi Susie and welcome to the forum!

I can imagine your frustration trying to produce large, flat areas with the loop tools. When I try to trim larger feet with small (1/4",1/2") trimming tools, I can never get them as smooth as I would like.

What you need is a large flat trimming tool, one that you could scrape the large areas flat. You probably already have it, it's a stainless steel rib.

My favorite trimming tools are my stainless and mild steel ribs. They will take off shavings of clay in large, flat areas, and you can control the depth and width of the cut.

By angling the ribs, you can fit them into the areas you have to scrape.

Some of your ribs may be too large for some areas, so you can cut them in half, or even cut off small slivers for scraping tiny areas.

You can even sharpen the edge of the rib/scraper with a file, to improve the cutting. What you want is the tiniest burr of metal on the edge, which will cut beautifully.

If you try letting the clay get slightly harder than leather hard, you can really get precise with sharp tools.

 

Furniture makers used to use,(and some still use) a metal scraper in which they can shave large area of wood to get them super smooth; this before the days of planers and sanding systems.

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I have a nice little set of tools 4" long with various blades/tips..round, pointed, a diagonal angle, etc. I think there are 5 in this set. I also use small Dolan loop tools, exacto blades and as Username says smooth large areas with a metal rib. You can also use pieces of hacksaw blades..tooth side to cross hatch lumps and even out the surface. Then smooth with the straight side of the hacksaw blade. I break the blades into small sections by bending them back and forth a few times. I also soften edges with a sponge or chamois. I carve porcelain, so sponging doesn't rough up the surface..

I think you can begin carving before leather hard. My porcelain dries quickly. I keep it workable by covering with a plastic container in between carving sessions.

Marcia

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Hi Susie and welcome to the forum!

I can imagine your frustration trying to produce large, flat areas with the loop tools. When I try to trim larger feet with small (1/4",1/2") trimming tools, I can never get them as smooth as I would like.

What you need is a large flat trimming tool, one that you could scrape the large areas flat. You probably already have it, it's a stainless steel rib.

My favorite trimming tools are my stainless and mild steel ribs. They will take off shavings of clay in large, flat areas, and you can control the depth and width of the cut.

By angling the ribs, you can fit them into the areas you have to scrape.

Some of your ribs may be too large for some areas, so you can cut them in half, or even cut off small slivers for scraping tiny areas.

You can even sharpen the edge of the rib/scraper with a file, to improve the cutting. What you want is the tiniest burr of metal on the edge, which will cut beautifully.

If you try letting the clay get slightly harder than leather hard, you can really get precise with sharp tools.

 

Furniture makers used to use,(and some still use) a metal scraper in which they can shave large area of wood to get them super smooth; this before the days of planers and sanding systems.

 

 

 

That never occurred to me to cut up a rib to scrape with. Thank you for the advice!

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I have a nice little set of tools 4" long with various blades/tips..round, pointed, a diagonal angle, etc. I think there are 5 in this set. I also use small Dolan loop tools, exacto blades and as Username says smooth large areas with a metal rib. You can also use pieces of hacksaw blades..tooth side to cross hatch lumps and even out the surface. Then smooth with the straight side of the hacksaw blade. I break the blades into small sections by bending them back and forth a few times. I also soften edges with a sponge or chamois. I carve porcelain, so sponging doesn't rough up the surface..

I think you can begin carving before leather hard. My porcelain dries quickly. I keep it workable by covering with a plastic container in between carving sessions.

Marcia

 

 

 

Can't wait to try the hacksaw blade . Thanks so much for the advice!

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Don't forget water erosion techniques with laquer or acrylic mediums. it might be something to try in combination with actual tool carving or the technique may be exactly what you need for your ideas.

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Don't forget water erosion techniques with laquer or acrylic mediums. it might be something to try in combination with actual tool carving or the technique may be exactly what you need for your ideas.

 

 

Hi Riorose (or anyone else), can you suggest a good website, book or form of instruction on how to go about water erosion techniques?

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I am just beginning to try carving porcelain. I am waiting until its leather hard, but when carving out larger areas, the surface gets very lumpy and uneven. Seems like I just make it worse when I try to smooth it out. I love to carve but this is frustrating me. I am using a variety of tiny loop tools. Thanks

 

 

there is a woodworking tool called a scorp, I know that the Swiss tool company Pfiel makes some and then come in different sizes. They look like a large loop tool with the cutting edge rotated so that you are pulling rather than stroking the blade giving you more control for larger smooth surfaces11V51.jpg

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Charles,

That is a serious carving tool. The wrist action would seem to be possibly better than the way I have been holding my carving tools. I have already had bilateral carpal tunnel operations in the 80s...so maybe I am overly aware of this.

Also I have some shellac carved pieces on my gallery site. I have been doing that with colored engobes...Images of Cows.

Marcia

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Charles,

That is a serious carving tool. The wrist action would seem to be possibly better than the way I have been holding my carving tools. I have already had bilateral carpal tunnel operations in the 80s...so maybe I am overly aware of this.

Also I have some shellac carved pieces on my gallery site. I have been doing that with colored engobes...Images of Cows.

Marcia

 

 

Marcia....I couldn't find the shellac carved pieces on your website. Can you post the link? Thanks!

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Charles,

That is a serious carving tool. The wrist action would seem to be possibly better than the way I have been holding my carving tools. I have already had bilateral carpal tunnel operations in the 80s...so maybe I am overly aware of this.

Also I have some shellac carved pieces on my gallery site. I have been doing that with colored engobes...Images of Cows.

Marcia

 

 

Marcia....I couldn't find the shellac carved pieces on your website. Can you post the link? Thanks!

 

There is one under forum discussion in my gallery here at this site. Also under tropical decoration there is a carved porcelain piece.

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Seasoned Warrior's picture of the scorp reminded me of the Skedkniv (spoon knife) that I sometimes use in my woodworking. They are traditionally used in carving for hollowing out forms ie, scooping out the interior of wooden clogs.... biggrin.gif

 

 

 

They are made here in Sweden by 'Mora of Sweden' and can be purchased online from Ragweed Forge.com (western New York)----- http://www.ragweedfo...ifeCatalog.html -----

 

They are sharpened on both sides and sell $20 for one or $35 for a pair. I've never tried them in ceramics but think I'll give it a try now!

 

162.jpg

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I don't carve porcelain, but do carve stoneware. Some of my best carving tools came from a box of stuff I bought in an auction. They are clean-up tools used by those who cast from slip molds to clean up mold marks. They are small, but come in a wide variety of shapes--both ends of the tool have different configurations. This type, combined with the other tools mentioned should fulfill all requirements. I love the swedish tools, and although I've never used hacksaw blades before, I will now. Thanks!

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Charles,

That is a serious carving tool. The wrist action would seem to be possibly better than the way I have been holding my carving tools. I have already had bilateral carpal tunnel operations in the 80s...so maybe I am overly aware of this.

Also I have some shellac carved pieces on my gallery site. I have been doing that with colored engobes...Images of Cows.

Marcia

 

 

marcia, that is a woodworking tool but what I like about it is that when you have the tool perpendicular to the direction of the stroke there seems to be a p ropensity to chatter. With the ben neck and a pulling stroke much of the chatter seems to be completely eliminated and I find that it carves with better control. The tool I showed would be practcle only for removing large aomounts of material but I think that the one could easily make a ribbon style tool with the bend at the neck in different sizes and put less stress on your wrists as well as p roviding better control.

 

Best regards,

Charles

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