Earthenware Processes

  1. As we make moulds that have to be in many parts for bone china horses, we use the same moulds for the earthenware horses. Earthenware china can be a mix of 25% ball clay, 25% china clay, 35% flint and 15% china stone. We use a white earthenware clay here at Alchemy as this gives a very detailed body and provides a good colour base to spray onto. The end result is a slightly porous china, until glazed, and it is not as strong as Bone China.

Generally, earthenware is a more forgiving medium than bone china, and enables the making of simpler moulds which do not need as many parts. lt is also suitable for making clay body customs as the china does not have a “memory” making it easier to change the clay body castings before firing.

  1. So we use exactly the same technique as for bone china horses to slip cast and assemble the earthenware ones.

  2. However, the propping of an earthenware horse is much easier, as earthenware does have more strength during the firing process, but once fully fired, the bone china horse is much the stronger of the two.

  3. Once fully dried the earthenware body is fired up to 1150-1160 degrees and held at this temperature for 30 minutes.

  4. The fettling of part lines is done by hand using diamond needle files. As the fired earthenware is softer than bone china l do not want to risk any damage by using a power tool.

  5. The earthenware horse is decorated before firing. This technique is called under glazing.

  6. Generally, Earthenware “painting” is the opposite of Bone China decorating. The paint is airbrushed on by Joanna (The multi talented resin and earthenware artist) in a similar method to resin painting. This will usually take 2-3 seperate firings. Once the colour has been completely fired on the the over-glaze is applied. Exactly as it sounds, the glaze is sprayed on over the final colour. Sometimes the underglaze colour changes once the glaze has been added, leading to unexplained variations of colour-usually when you are up against a tight deadline! l have also found that some colours absorb the glaze, which entails another glost firing to take place.   Occaisionally, we over-paint a glazed Earthenware piece – “Edmund” is an example of this (the traditional sized Suffolk Punch). Sometimes we combine both techniques, for example on the Christmas Venus Special Run 2008, and underglazed earthenware edition, but one that has the sack of carrots and the ribbons in the mane and tail of Venus added with on glaze colour.