eleanor bartleman

 porcelain figures, treasure-boxes and wall pieces

technical processes

My work is hand made from porcelain clay.

To make the jewellery boxes, I hand model  masters for the animal heads, the lids, and the boxes. I make plaster moulds from these masters. The plaster moulds give just the basic shapes for these parts. I press the porcelain clay into the moulds to produce the basic components for the boxes and then add onto them. I add ears, whiskers, and decoration. The ruffs are added. I then paint the boxes with layers of coloured slips, the flowers and details are painted with underglaze colours.  I then add all the jewellery! Each pearl is hand-rolled and applied to the piece. Diamonds are cut out of rolled clay and positioned carefully. Once finished, the boxes are left to dry slowly before being fired to 1040C. Once out of the kiln, grey stain is washed over the work to give depth and transparent glaze is painted onto selected areas – the flower decoration, the ruffs, pearls and jewellery. The work is then fired  to 1260C.

After this, mother of pearl lustre is applied to the ruffs, facial details, and pearls. Gold is also applied for that extra sparkle! The work is then fired again to 760C.

The larger sculptural pieces are all hand modelled from scratch – moulds are rarely used as these pieces are designed as one offs. However as the work must be hollow to fire in the kiln successfully, sometimes making a mould is the easiest way to produce a hollow form. If no moulds are used, each modelled piece must be carefully hollowed out to prevent catastrophes in the firings!  Top heavy pieces must be supported in the high firing as porcelain is apt to warp and bend at a high temperature. So, when I’ve finished modelling the sculpture, I spend considerable time constructing support and scaffolding to support the piece – this will be fired with the piece throughout the firings. Once assembled and painted, the glazing, lustring and firing process for the sculptural pieces is the same as the jewellery boxes.