PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF,

I’M A MAN OF CLAY AND GLAZE

PUSHED MUD AROUND FOR SEVENTY YEARS

OR TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DAYS.

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!

Monday, March 19, 2012

PC Substrates (PCS)



Monday, 19 March 2012



AND NOW FOR SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT!


PC SUBSTRATES FOR MAKING GLAZE PAINTINGS, 


DRAWINGS AND PRINTMAKING ON




 "CLEMATIS SERIES" GLAZE PAINTING - SINGLE FIRED ON 
PC SUBSTRATE WITH MULTIPLE GLAZES, 
BRUSHWORK AND GLAZE TRAILING. 
FIRED IN REDUCTION AT CONE 10. 
THE FIRST EVER GLAZE PAINTING USING PC SUBSTRATES.
BY ROBIN HOPPER

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THIS POST IS AN UPDATE ON AN ARTICLE THAT I WROTE FOR CERAMICS MONTHLY MAGAZINE IN JANUARY OF 2011. THE ARTICLE FOLLOWS THIS BRIEF INTRODUCTION AND EXPANDS ONTHE DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH THAT I HAVE PUT INTO AN AMAZING MATERIAL FOR THE BENEFIT OF CERAMIC ARTISTS AND POTTERS WHO, LIKE ME, HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR A SUPER-FINE, STRONG, PORCELAIN-LIKE MATERIAL SUITABLE FOR DRAWING, PAINTING AND DOING PRINTMAKING ON WITH CERAMIC MATERIALS AND GLAZES. IT INITIALLY CAME TO MY ATTENTION SOME YEARS AGO THROUGH A VERY INTERESTING STUDENT IN MY GLAZE AND COLOR DEVELOPMENT COURSE THAT I TAUGHT FOR MANY YEARS AT THE METCHOSIN INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL OF THE ARTS IN VICTORIA, B.C, CANADA. I HAVE NOW RETIRED FROM TEACHING, BUT I WANTED TO SHARE THIS AMAZING MATERIAL WITH AS MANY OF MY READERS AS POSSIBLE. IT WAS ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED  FOR NASA AS SPACE AGE MATERIAL USED FOR HEAT SHIELDS AND LATER FOR COMPUTER CARDS THAT HAD TO BE PERFECT. THE CERAMIC INDUSTRY IS BESET WITH SECONDS OR FALLOUT MATERIAL.THE CUTTING OF THE SUBSTRATE IN THE MANUFACTURING STAGE IS WHAT USUALLY CAUSES FALLOUT MATERIAL. NON-FALLOUT MATERIAL WOULD BE 78%  HIGHER IN COST. SLIGHT IMPERFECTIONS  ARE GENERALLY  NOT A PROBLEM FOR THE ARTIST. PAPER, CANVAS, CARD, WOOD AND VELLUM INVARIABLY HAVE SMALL IMPERFECTIONS. 



THE STUDENT, WHO I WILL JUST REFER TO AS D.A., WAS MAKING SOME OF 

 HIS SUPPORT INCOME FROM PRODUCING CERAMIC BASEBALL CARDS.
 THEY WERE PRODUCED WITH PHOTO DECALS OF FAMOUS PLAYERS WITH ALL THE USUAL INFORMATION ON THE PLAYER ON THE BACK. THEY WERE PLACED ON AN AMAZING CARD-THICKNESS AND SIZED MATERIAL THAT I HAD BEEN UNAWARE OF. D.A. GAVE ME SOME SAMPLES TO TEST GLAZES ON, AND WITHOUT EXCEPTION, MY GLAZES WERE RICHER ON THESE "CARDS" THAN ON MY REGULAR PORCELAIN. I WAS VERY BUSY AT THE TIME AND DIDN'T HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO FURTHER UNTIL ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO WHEN I NEED TO MAKE SOME CHANGES TO MY WORKING HABITS AND DIRECTION. I CONTACTED THE CARD SUBSTRATE MANUFACTURERS TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE MATERIAL, SIZES, THICKNESSES, ETC AND ASKED IF THEY HAD SECONDS, OR FALLOUT, MATERIAL, AND WHAT DID THEY DO WITH SECONDS IF THEY HAD THEM. THEY RESPONDED THAT THERE WAS NOTHING THEY COULD DO WITH THEM EXCEPT LANDFILL. I SAID THAT I THOUGHT THEY MIGHT BE WRONG ABOUT THAT AND ASKED IF THEY COULD SEND ME SOME SECONDS. ABOUT TWO MONTHS LATER I SENT THEM THE FIRST GLAZE PAINTING SHOWN ABOVE. IF YOU ARE WONDERING WHAT MAKES THE PC SUBSTRATE A SECOND, LOOK AT THE TOP EDGE ON THE LEFT SIDE, IT HAS BEEN CUT SLIGHTLY OFF SQUARE. OFTEN ONE CAN'T SEE THE PROBLEM THAT HAS MADE THE RAW MATERIAL "FALLOUT". NOT ONLY ARE WE ABLE TO SUPPLY THE MATERIAL AT A BELOW COST PRICE, BUT WE ARE SAVING THE LANDFILLS AT THE SAME TIME. THIS IS A VERY "GREEN" PRODUCT. IT HAS ALSO UNDERGONE MANDATORY TOXICITY TESTING FOR ART MATERIALS AND CARRIES THE ASTM D-4236 LHAMA
SEAL OF APPROVAL. ALL ART MATERIALS SHOULD CARRY THIS SEAL BY LAW.

PC SUBSTRATES ARE CURRENTLY ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH AN ON-LINE STORE WITH THE FOLLOWING, VERY INFORMATIVE WEBSITE:      WWW.CERAMICARTCART.COM       THEY WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE THROUGH SELECTED ART AND CERAMIC SUPPLY STORES. THEY WILL HAVE A PRESENCE AT THE UPCOMING NCECA CONFERENCE IN SEATTLE, USA. THE BOOTH NUMBER IN THE EXHIBITION HALL WILL BE 424  WHERE DEMONSTRATIONS WILL BE ONGOING AND QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PRODUCT WILL BE WELCOMED. I WILL BE THERE FOR SOME OF THE TIME, JUST ASK AT THE DESK.  CERAMICARTCART  IS ALSO THE VENDOR AND NORTH AMERICAN REPRESENTATIVE OF BOTZ GLAZES, A SUPERIOR GERMAN GLAZE MANUFACTURING COMPANY, AND OF KERAFLEX, ANOTHER VERY INTERESTING GREENWARE SUBSTRATE MATERIAL THAT ALLOWS YET ANOTHER RANGE OF POSSIBILITIES. THE WEDNESDAY, 21ST MARCH POST WILL BE MAINLY IMAGES OF WORK ON PC SUBSTRATES BY OTHER ARTISTS WHO ARE NOW WORKING WITH THIS REVOLUTIONARY NEW MATERIAL. I PLAN TO DO A POSTING ON KERAFLEX ON FRIDAY, 21ST MARCH, 2012. THE    WWW.CERAMICARTCART.COM   WEBSITE HAS SEPARATE GALLERIES OF KERAFLEX AND PC SUBSTRATES SHOWING IMAGES OF WORK BY MANY DIFFERENT ARTISTS WHO ARE CURRENTLY USING THE PRODUCTS.


________________________________________________________________________



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January 19, 2011

Ceramic Substrates as Canvas: A High-Tech Ceramic Material Gets Artsy

by Robin Hopper Read Comments (20)
Prunus Triptych, three sheets of untreated  substrate with bronze-black pigment brushwork, fired to cone 10  in reduction. Chrome/lead orange glaze applied with a fine trailer and refired to cone 010.
Prunus Triptych, three sheets of untreated substrate with bronze-black pigment brushwork, fired to cone 10 in reduction. Chrome/lead orange glaze applied with a fine trailer and refired to cone 010.
If you’ve ever wanted to draw or paint on your claywork, but have felt challenged by translating a two dimensional image to a three dimensional form, you may have tried applying these techniques to slabs or tiles. But slabs and tiles can be a bit cumbersome because of they can get heavy. And trying to reduce the weight of a decorative tile or slab by making it thinner can be somewhat problematic because of warpage and cracking. So some may have given up and saved their painterly surfaces for canvas.

In today’s post, Robin Hopper presents a possible solution for those who want to paint, but would like to incorporate marks that can only be made by the magic of the kiln. Robin has been experimenting with painting on substrates, high-tech, porcelain-like, super-thin, pre-fired sheets of mostly alumina that we


re developed for use in the automotive, electronic, avionics, medical, and military fields. Working with cast-offs from industry, Robin has found that the material is affordable and has been giving him terrific results. Plus, he is making something beautiful from would-be landfill fodder. - Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

It is extremely rare to find anything new in a medium that has been in constant use for over 10,000 years, over most of the globe, in most cultures. It is impossible to be 100% certain that ceramic substrates have never been used before in the ways I will be describing, but I have never seen or heard of anyone using them as a basis for drawing and painting. The company that developed and manufactures them for an entirely different advanced-technology use informs me that this is new to them as well. My introduction to this material opened up the possibility of ceramic drawing and painting on a superfine surface. For the painter, graphically skilled artist, or anyone working two dimensionally, ceramic substrates offer exciting new possibilities not only because of their surface but also because of their durability and range of applications. After a lifetime spent largely informing people of what has been done before, it is really exciting to consider how these might be applied to a painterly/graphic use, in home decoration, lighting, as a translucent alternative for stained glass, for large- and small-format murals, and many other architectural possibilities. Beautiful miniatures and jewelry panels could also be possible when the substrates are cut to a very small size. 

Need more ideas for ceramic surface decoration?
Check out Robin Hopper’s Making Marks in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!
This image shows a montage of an old decal, cut-up, layered and reassembled on the untreated surface. Fired in oxidation at cone 019.
This image shows a montage of an old decal, cut-up, layered and reassembled on the untreated surface. Fired in oxidation at cone 019.
Material
Ceramic substrates are high-tech, porcelain-like, super-thin, pre-fired sheets of mostly alumina that were developed for use in the automotive, electronic, avionics, medical, and military fields. They are primarily used for screen-printing digital circuitry diagrams for a variety of electronic applications. They are composed of 96% alumina, and are fired to over cone 10 (2372°F, 1300°C). Despite their thinness and lightness in weight, they are amazingly strong. Even when fired several times with an incomplete coat of glaze on only one side, there were no structural or glaze fit issues. They also have no shrinkage, which is a major benefit when you consider that regular porcelain bodies generally shrink between 12% and 17%.

If one thinks of the ceramic substrate as just another work surface to paint and draw on like paper, vellum, card, board, or canvas, it can be approached in the same way as one would for any discipline in drawing and painting. Lightweight, break resistant, and wonderfully translucent, it is paper without all the fussy curatorial issues and ceramic without all the technical issues. The only real difference would be that the materials used on the surface are ceramic.


Basic working set-up with warming trays, blank and fired substrates, lambswool paint roller and glaze tray, brushes, underglaze pens and pencils. It could easily be set up on a corner of a kitchen table and only needs a household outlet to function.
Basic working set-up with warming trays, blank and fired substrates, lambswool paint roller and glaze tray, brushes, underglaze pens and pencils. It could easily be set up on a corner of a kitchen table and only needs a household outlet to function.
Testing
I first used ceramic substrates 20 years ago when I tested some of my regular glazes on them and they came out of the kiln with a particularly beautiful surface quality, more so than the same glaze on other clay surfaces. So far, my research shows that they have the ability of taking on any glaze I have tried, at any temperature up to cone 10, in oxidation or reduction. They can be refired numerous times to layer glazes of different temperatures, starting with the highest and working down. I haven’t tested them in soda, salt or wood firings, because, in theory, one needs a much larger amount of silica than is present in these substrates to develop a suitable surface with sodium, potassium, and calcium (the major fluxes that bond with silica to form glaze in atmospheric or fumed firings). I don’t have kilns for these firing processes, so here might be a research area for someone else to work with and develop. Theories are made to be challenged!

Randy Brodnax’s raku substrate test, raku fired with ferric chloride.
Randy Brodnax’s raku substrate test, raku fired with ferric chloride.
I am purchasing and using what the manufacturer calls fallout material, or seconds. The cost of the material for industrial applications is extremely high and sheet sizes are generally very small. However, the fallout material is now distributed under the brand name Porcelain Canvas™ through the websitewww.ceramicartcart.com in a variety of sizes, with prices that are comparable to other art mediums such as good quality watercolor paper or stretched canvas. Therefore, one can do a lot of testing inexpensively. It should be noted that this is a recycled material, and as such, the sheets will vary slightly in size and thickness depending on current industrial applications. However, any variable in available formats is a small price to pay for a cost-effective supply. There may be slight imperfections, but it would take an expert to find them. The sizes that I am currently using are 5×7 inches and 7.4×11 inches, with a thickness of 0.04 inches. The 5×7-inch Porcelain Canvas costs $ 5.99 per sheet, and is available in a pack of five sheets for $29.99. The 7.4×11-inch size, costs $15.50 for one sheet or $77.50 per pack of five. A third sized sheet, which is 10.5×7.30 inches, costs $14 per sheet or $70 per pack of five. Jewelry blanks in a variety of shapes and sizes will be available soon. You can buy the firsts in many different sizes, but the prices get quite steep.

Keral 99 Substrate with scumbled underglaze pencil background and brushwork using Laguna Clay’s Moroccan Sand Oxide Stain Ebony Black MS-102. Fired in oxidation at cone 8.
Keral 99 Substrate with scumbled underglaze pencil background and brushwork using Laguna Clay’s Moroccan Sand Oxide Stain Ebony Black MS-102. Fired in oxidation at cone 8.
If you need a different size than what’s available or need to alter or pierce it, the sheets can be cut with a diamond saw, or you can use a CO2 laser (if you have one lying around) to cut, drill, or scribe the material.

Methods
It takes little time to adjust and feel the difference between a traditional clay surface and that of a substrate. That said, substrates do require a bit of special consideration to work with. This is due primarily to the fact that they offer no absorption, as they have been pre-fired to above cone 10. Because of this, water-based glazes and colorants dry very slowly.

I had a hunch that they would better accept glazes on the surface if the substrates were heated during application. Looking for the most convenient heating method, I stumbled on two kitchen warming trays at the local thrift store for $15. They worked perfectly. Larger warming trays may be available from restaurant supply stores. I placed a sheet of rigid copper on top of the warmer to make sure that the heat was evenly distributed throughout the substrate, which I placed directly on top of the copper.

Inexpensive trays don’t usually have a heat control. More expensive ones have rheostats that can be set for temperature control. My thrift store find gave me one of each, and I find that they both work equally well. You can also use hair dryers or electric paint strippers.

White barium glaze ground, layered glazes and brushwork, fired at cone 8 in oxidation. Chrome/lead orange glaze applied with a fine trailer and refired to cone 010.
White barium glaze ground, layered glazes and brushwork, fired at cone 8 in oxidation. Chrome/lead orange glaze applied with a fine trailer and refired to cone 010.
Once an initial layer of glaze has been applied to the substrate, you will need to heat it until the water in the applied glaze is evaporated, probably to around 150°–200°F (65°–95°C), or medium hot to the touch. Once the base glaze has dried, you can do brushwork, or carefully add different glazes by any method, until you have the image that you want. The substrate is then fired at the temperature and atmosphere suitable for the glazes being used. The optimum thickness of glaze will differ for almost everyone. Keeping notes on the behavior of each glaze will help in controlling the end result.

Depending on the type of artworks being done and the vision of the artists doing them, it might not be necessary to apply an overall base coat of glaze. Some methods of application can be done cold. The ivory/vellum-like surface can be drawn on with ceramic pens, pencils, and variations of Conté crayons, producing an image that is similar to regular pen and ink or pencil drawings, but fired in place, usually at around cone 6. Glaze and slip trailers in a variety of sizes are perfect for doing linear work in combination with glazes or terra sigillatas. Firing between applications of underglaze pencil, pen, and glaze to set the colors allows a complex matrix of marks to be built up.

Depending on the character of the glaze, from very fluid to very dry, the surface might be anything from smooth and flat to a definite raised line. After trying many variations of application, I find that the following four work best for me:

1. I draw and paint directly on the surface as purchased. I may do additional firings to increase complexity of the image.

2. I apply an even coat of underglaze (I prefer black) and fire it anywhere between cone 04 to 6. Then I will apply two or three coats of glaze (I prefer white) and cut sgraffito (scratch line drawings) through the glaze down to the underglaze surface. I then brush off the powdery glaze with a soft brush and fire the piece to the final glaze temperature.

3. I will sometimes apply a crystalline glaze directly to the surface in a thick coating, leaving at least ¼ of an inch bare at the edges, in case the glaze is excessively fluid. This way, it can run even on a flat, horizontal surface.

4. Most of the time, I lay down a thin glaze ground on the substrate using a small lambswool or fine cellulose sponge roller with thickened glaze (just let the solids settle and take most of the water off). After the first coat is dry, I apply two more coats, giving me a slightly pebbled texture to paint on—a ceramic version of a primed canvas. If the glaze is particularly finicky to use or paint details over, I usually fire the base coat to 1832°F (1000°C), or in a bisque firing. Although the substrate is non-absorbent, the applied glaze will be absorbent until fired to its maturity. Sometimes I use colorless glazes that are crystalline when fired and cooled appropriately. The same base glaze just fired to maturity will likely give a nicely textured background.

I have fired substrates in cone 10 oxidation and reduction, cones 6 and 8 oxidation, and cone 06 oxidation. Others, like Randy Brodnax, have tested the substrates in raku firings.

The substrate sheets accept and withstand various print-making approaches, such as monoprint, linocut, woodcut, screen printing, and decals. The potential range of applications is limited only by the creative mind and technical understanding of the person doing it. If one can imagine all the possibilities of paper, card, or canvas, substrates are just another flat, white surface waiting for the artist’s touch!


Robin Hopper is a potter and author of several books (available at www.ceramicartsdaily.org/bookstore). He lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He would like to thank Skutt Kilns for the nifty, custom-built 14 x 14 x 10-inch computerized test kiln for substrates. For more information about Robin, and to learn about his work and books, go to www.chosinpottery.ca.

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20 Comments

  1. Linda | January 19th, 2011 at 12:07 pm
    Recently I’ve been making large tiles using them as painterly surfaces and the weight was a concern for hanging or shipping them. I am so excited to learn about this thin substrate material, thank you so much for this very informative post. I can’t wait to use this material.
  2. don | January 19th, 2011 at 1:40 pm
    I greatly enjoyed Robin’s latest post. I believe that there is enormous potential for the continuing exploration of the “marriage” of high tech and art. This is an excellent example of the “new directions” that ceramics could head. Truly limited only, by one’s imagination…….. Thanks again.
  3. Annie | January 19th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
    Wow! Thanks.
  4. Teresa | January 19th, 2011 at 5:03 pm
    This is exciting, considering I am without space to actively be making pots at the moment. My kickwheel and studio supplies are in temporary storage, but I know where my glazes are ;)and I have a little kiln in my cellar! AHa!! Thanks,
  5. Carol | January 19th, 2011 at 7:08 pm
    Any concern with fumes, or did I miss that ?
  6. Robin | January 19th, 2011 at 7:38 pm
    Carol,
    There are no fumes from the substrate as anything that would cause fumes has already been burned out in the pre-firing vitrification at above cone 10. Any further fumes would come from ingredients in the glaze, usually carbonates and possibly sulfates, as they burn out and become oxides. You didn’t miss it, it wasn’t there! Robin
  7. Rebecca | January 19th, 2011 at 8:15 pm
    I just ordered some of the substrate material from the website given. Thank you, thank you. I am sure I will read and re-read this posting before I actually fire something. I love creative synergy.
  8. Merla | January 19th, 2011 at 11:10 pm
    Good stuff! I’m enjoying doing pictues of animals in majolica on Cone 6 porcelain teapots. I’ll keep this in mind when I want to do something in 2D.Thanks, Robin.
  9. marty | January 20th, 2011 at 8:20 am
    exciting, i’m going to try working with it!
  10. anita | January 20th, 2011 at 11:19 am
    I attended a Robin Hopper workshop this past fall. He had some of these examples there to share with us. They’re much more beautiful in person and a lot stronger then what you’d expect. What a great idea… now if only I could paint! Thanks for the info Robin!
  11. Janice | January 20th, 2011 at 11:23 am
    Wow! I’m excited to try this.
  12. Rebecca | January 20th, 2011 at 12:32 pm
    Just thinking out loud here - Robin, would a heating pad work as a heated surface instead of the kitchen/restaurant warming tray? Would you keep it on low, med or high?
  13. Irma | January 20th, 2011 at 1:48 pm
    I have been reading “Making marks” interesting ideas. It will be nice to have a seminar with him in the Chicago land area.
  14. Robin | January 20th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
    Rebecca,
  15. Robin | January 20th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
    OOPs!
    Rebecca, Any heating unit that will just evaporate the water from the glaze will be fine. a heating pad will take longer, but it will work. TRY IT AND SEE! is my usual answer to open- ended questions.
  16. Bernadette | February 8th, 2011 at 11:14 pm
    So very cool Robin…I am excited to try!! I have done figure drawings on clay for years, but have had cracking issues, so this could be a great alternative. Thank you!!
    Question: Can you drill holes safely for hanging? or how have you resolved hanging them?
    I would hate to put these lovely things behind glass
  17. Robin | February 9th, 2011 at 1:57 am
    Hi Bernardette,
    I have them framed in a recessed frame with no glass, but allows viewers to get a good feel for what looks like a very fragile sheet, but is actually very strong. Putting them behind glass would lose the beautiful visual and tactile qualities in a ceramic glaze There are many ways that they can be framed. Drilling is not a particularly good option unless you have a laser available. There is a wide range of frames available. If the glazes are not too dense or opaque they can also be backlit. Try too Google FRAMES and see what comes up.
    Have fun! Robin
  18. Steven | March 25th, 2011 at 8:02 pm
    My experience with pottery and the art of creating not duplicating. As an artist in pottery. There are things I am going to try with in the next year & will need a patent and can’t disclosed any of my ideas. I do have a piece which I sold as a teen in High School which is being returned to me. Never had been reported being sold for $20.00, at the time. It is now valued at $2000.00.
  19. Angie | March 26th, 2011 at 4:44 pm
    Robin, thanks for the insight & introduction, it’s fascinating & inspiring!
  20. mojdeh | April 18th, 2011 at 8:20 am
    Hello Robin,very exciting.I watched your video about this technique,thank
    you so much.
;

2 comments:

  1. Barium Chloride is used in the purification of water saturated solution in caustic chlorine plants and also in the Barium Chloride Exporters India manufacture of heat treatment salts, case hardening of steel

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for providing clear information on this. you can also refer Barium Chloride Manufacturer.

    ReplyDelete