I make my jewellery pieces — earrings, brooches, pins and pendants — from porcelain or bone china slip, and complete them with china painting techniques. The porcelain is initially fired to maturity at 1280℃, the bone china to a slightly lower temperature; this makes the pieces very strong and finely shaped ones may appear semi-translucent.
I take pride in my work, and guarantee its quality. I believe in the motto that
If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well.
I now make mostly freeform and three dimensional jewellery, but still use the methods described below when making flat pieces.
To make flat jewellery shapes, I cut pieces from a thin slab of clay. I pour porcelain slip into a shallow plaster of Paris casting tray that I made for this purpose. The plaster sucks moisture from the slip, turning it into clay. I cut the clay slab out when it looks dry and firm, wait for it to become “leather hard”, then cut out jewellery shapes with a scalpel — cardboard shapes make useful templates.
Next I refine the shapes and smooth the edges. If I am making holes at this stage — for instance, to put rings or fastenings through later — I have to be careful not to bend or crack the raw clay. After the pieces have dried I fire them in my kiln. I could fire them to maturity at this stage, but I usually give them an intermediate firing to about 980℃.
After this low firing I sand the pieces with wet-and-dry sandpaper to make them finer and smoother. I then glaze some pieces and fire them all to maturity at about 1280℃. They are then very strong and ready to be decorated with china painting, which takes more firings, generally to around 800 – 860℃.
The last step is to assemble them with ready made findings (metal rings, fastenings, etc.). I use good quality findings to ensure trouble-free use; for example, I prefer “allergy-free” surgical steel studs for earrings. Other findings may be sterling silver, or sterling silver hard-gold plated. The exceptions to this are brooch fastenings, and chains for pendants. I now provide display chains (gold coated base metal) for pendants so that customers don't pay for an expensive chain that may be the wrong length.
I now make more freeform and three dimensional jewellery, as well as flat pieces. These too are made from slip; I use miniature moulds, that I make myself, for most of the three dimensional pieces.
I also work with bone china slip that I mix myself, but these pieces are not yet available for sale. I have, however, donated several pieces to various charities, where they have proved popular at fund-raising auctions.
Also known as porcelain painting, and onglaze or overglaze painting, this art is traditionally done on commercially produced, white, glazed china; occasionally bisque (unglazed china) is used as well. Special low firing china paints are used that mature after kiln firing to about 800℃. They are made from mineral oxides and flux, and mixed with oils for painting.
China painting must be done very carefully; the smooth glazed surface is not easy to paint. Thick paint will chip off later, so depth of colour is usually built up over several firings. Anything touching the wet surface, for example dust, also leaves marks that show after firing.
I am very interested in modern china painting methods and products such as glaze chipping, lustre marbling, texture pastes and metallic paints. Airbrushing is another of my favourite techniques.
Most of my jewellery features lustres, fused glass and/or other modern paints such as metallics.