Robin Hopper is a man of many parts, mostly worn out, rusty or dysfunctional, due to a lifetime of excesses! He started working with clay at the age of three and is still doing it over 70 years later. His lengthy, peripatetic career as a mudpusher has included side trips into working as a Professional Actor, Stage Designer, Property Maker, Stage Manager, Stage Carpenter, Grocer, Greengrocer, Jazz Musician, Teapot, Wine and Beer-Bottle, Trumpet, Trombone and Bugle Player, European Travel Guide, Founder of Several Clay/Art/Craft Organizations, Alchemist, Geologist, Primatologist, Linguist, Ornithologist, Botanist, Ceramic Historian, Educator, Author, Garden Designer, Lecturer on Japanese Garden Design, Laborer and Star of Stage, Screen and Potter’s Wheel!

Friday, March 23, 2012




Robin Hopper has asked me to provide some information on Keraflex Porcelain for his blog.

I have been studying the material possibilities with this clay body since 2005 and have documented the details of my journey with this material, elsewhere (Ceramics Technical 2007, 2010, Journal of Australian Ceramics, 2007) 

Meryl Ruth  Royal Teabag, A Ceramic Teapot 

1) dimensions 11.0" x 5.5" x 5.0" 2) materials stoneware clay cone 10, keraflex for the front and back panelsof the teapot body, feather in lid3) multiple firings, cone 04, cone 10, cone 0184) photo-silk screen on keraflex using underglazes for queen of heart cardpanels on front and back of quilt-like teapot body5) underglazes, China paints, cold finishes

I would like to take the opportunity to discuss some aspects which I haven’t specifically addressed before, for this blog. But for those who have not heard about Keraflex before, a quick summary:

 I discovered Keraflex during my MVA (Duel major Ceramics/Photomedia) at the Australian National University as I was working towards an installation of printed ceramic pages for my graduating exhibition. At that time I was hand making a variation on paper clay sheets using fibers. At just 

0.5mm thin after firing, these sheets suited my purpose in many ways, but they were not responding as well to my print goals. I could print on my 2d sheets, pre and post firing, but what I really wanted to achieve was to print onto clay in some way, and then manipulate the clay into 3d forms, so that the printed image was intrinsic to the 3d form itself.

Judi Dyelle. Reed Vase. 

Processes/Medium:Keraflex Porcelain 0.5mm
(Dyelle Method), Tom Coleman's Porcelain, Clear Glaze, Copper Red Accent,Propane Reduction Cone 10. Dimensions:8.25''x3.5''Year:2011.


Artist:Graciela Olio. Processes/Mediums:Keraflex Porcelain 1.0mm,Photographic Gum Bichromate Print, Fired Cone 9. Dimensions:variableYear:2010

After finding that I wasn’t able to achieve this exact goal in my studio, during months of  research into various ceramic processes and materials, I unearthed a reference to a ceramic substrate from a company in Germany, Kerafol. This company was making fired ceramic substrates, rods, tubes and other advanced ceramic materials for industrial applications. Somehow, this company discovered that they could utilize the same equipment used to make high tech materials used for bullet proof vests, nose cones on space shuttles for example, to create a non functional fragile ceramic sheet for art and craft usage which they called Keraflex! 

Meryl Ruth -  Steampunk Teaclock, A Ceramic Teapot: 

1) dimensions 12.5" x  6.5" x  4.5"2) materials stoneware clay cone 10 and keraflex panels for clock face andback of clock face3) multiple firings, cone 04, cone 10, cone 0184) photo-silk screen on keraflex using underglazes5) underglaze, clear glaze, China paints, lusters, gold leaf

The Keraflex sheets were described as a dry (unfired) sheet of porcelain, available in both 0.5mm thick and 1.0mm thick. It was purported to be blended with organic polymers, allowing one to cut the sheets with scissors, soak in water if desired, and bend into 3d forms and fire, successfully creating a 3d paperthin porcelain form. Sceptical,  I ordered some from Germany, the sheets arrived in a plastic bag, each sheet backed with a piece of plastic. The sheets had no moisture content at all, so did not have a shelf life as such. They were a little flexible when dry, but when soaked in water for 30 seconds, became floppy and easily folded. The sheet felt much like a thin sheet of rubber. The material was so forgiving, with a little gentle persuasion, it would allow manipulation into complex 3d forms.  However, the proof would be in the firing. I propped the now dry 3d forms in the kiln and after firing to cone ten, discovered that there was no warping at all. Incredible for such thin porcelain sheets. Wanting to determine exactly how far you could push this material, I found that even firing with no props, worked incredibly well. My 0.5mm thick forms after firing with no propping to cone ten  came out of the kiln exactly the same as they went in, with the exception of a beautiful, warm translucency.

Joy Tryptovic  -  Untitled, 
Height 29cms, First fire:  1100C, glaze, re-fired
                                                        to 1270°C. Keraflex 1.0mm

Since those thrilling first firings, Keraflex Porcelain has come a long way. Distributed in Australia since 2006, and in the US since 2009 from the online store. After Seattle,  Keraflex will have been represented at four NCECA Conferences (this year at booth 424, alongside PC Substrates) However, I still don’t feel that the importance of Keraflex (or indeed, PC Substrates) to the ceramic world has been fully realized. Early on, Keraflex was branded by the occasional critic as appearing to be too easy to use.  To avoid this tag, some artists choose not to mention that their work is made from Keraflex or has a Keraflex component, simply referring to it as porcelain, in their materials list.

Amy MACINNES  -  Neckpiece
Keraflex, textile,foam, cord.18" x 6"  x 2"

The fact that it has a brand name makes it difficult to write about in some magazines and journals, due to the fact that any article about Keraflex reads as an advertisement for that product. However, unlike other clay bodies, the impossibility of being able to create similar work with any other clay medium, requires the useage of the specific brand name in any article. 

AMANDA KEATING- Backbone neckpiece. 
Keraflex 1.0mm, bronze, pearls. 10" x 2'  x 5"

"One person suggested to me, that perhaps  it is better to avoid the use of
a ceramic art material that could allow non ceramicists to do work that
previously only highly accomplished artists who spent years perfecting the
creation of paper thin porcelain sheets could achieve? That Keraflex could
somehow erode the achievements of artists who do similar work without using
I would like to address these issues, with my blog post for Robin Hopper,
Sure, this clay body allows results that are not achieveable with any other
clay body. However, from my own experience, the studio skills that I had
previously achieved in creating, manipulating and firing my own handmade
paperthin sheets of clay, and also the many ceramic print methods that I had
experimented with  - taught me some of the finer technical aspects of
working with, printing and firing such thin porcelain, hard won techniques
that I could then apply to my work with Keraflex. Without those specific
studio skills, and motivations I would not have been able to achieve my
particular goals with Keraflex at all.
The artists who seem to achieve the most with this material are accomplished
ceramic artists with a wide variety of individual methods. The incredible
material qualities of Keraflex, combined with each artists unique skills and
individual studio focus, has resulted in some jaw dropping artwork. Artwork
that has resulted in some major awards and commissions for the artists who
are using it. Looking at Keraflex in this way, one can see that it is no
different to using a custom ceramic decal, or a commercial underglaze pen,
or having loyalty to a particular clay body because one suits your work
better than any other. Any ceramic material or product that allows an artist
a way to better realize their vision should surely only be seen as a
wonderful asset and a positive addition to an artist's storehouse of

From another perspective, is the interest that non-ceramic artists have shown for Keraflex due to the fact that like PC Substrates, it is a clay body in sheet form. This is a very enticing medium to a broad spectrum of artists who may not have been interested in clay before. Keraflex and PC Substrates allow cross disciplinary work like no other clay body, and to date many printmakers, photographers, painters, sculptors, jewelry designers, fiber artists, architects and interior designers, amongst others, have purchased Keraflex and PC Substrates and then by necessity proceeded to learn the necessary skills required to work with and fire these ceramic substrates. These artists and designers may not ever have considered using clay before, but with substrate in hand, they are joining community clay groups so that they can fire their new clay work. I expect that these ceramic materials may be far less intimidating and alien to some artists than a block of clay, and may initially have a much smaller learning curve to achieve some type of result.  Any clay body that entices droves of creative folks to experiment with clay for the first time, and yet also offers a technically demanding challenge resulting in previously unachievable results in the work of experienced ceramic artists internationally, can only be seen as a clay revolution that may have started off quietly, but is gradually increasing to a crescendo! 

                                                       Jennifer Brazelton  -  "Unraveling"
keraflex and southern ice cone 10 oxidation12"h. x 6"w. x 10"d. 


Rachel Kingston: BA(Hons) Photomedia, MVA Duel Major Ceramics/Photomedia
NOTE: For extensive information about Keraflex Porcelain and to view a large range of Keraflex Porcelain artwork done by artists internationally, please visit Questions can be directed to The team at Ceramic Art Cart will be at NCECA booth 424. The online webstore will be open during this time, but the shipping department will be closed during NCECA week (Mon 26th, reopening Monday April 1st) Any online orders placed during these dates, will be shipped on Monday 1st April. 


1 comment:

  1. Grass: What a fine collection of substrate art work you have posted. I'd call that yummy eye