Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paper clay and Wire Mesh

I decided to make a simple bowl out of the the remnants of some steel mesh (also called chicken wire or hardware cloth) I had laying around. I have actually come to enjoy creating these wire structures/sculptures. I can be a pain - literally - when your fingers get poked by the cut wires. Working with gloves just does not do it for me so it's just my bare fingers, a couple of pliers and patience.

The completed wire structure was dipped in Southern Ice Porcelain paper clay slip repeatedly until I was happy with the thickness of the coating achieved. Close attention was paid to the lower half of the bowl so it got more dips then the upper half to make it more stable.

I test fired this to Cone 5 in an electric kiln without doing the bisque fire. No glazes were used.

1. Due to the simple construction of the bowl, this piece survived the Cone 5 rather well.
2. There were several cracks in the clay and the melted wire oozed out.
3. At Cone 5, the wire is completely melted, so it's looking for a place to escape and run out. Cracks in the clay provided this outlet.
4. I think the cracks cannot be avoided as the pressure from the melted wire will find the weak points in the clay coating and burst out.
5. Another test would be to fire to Cone 1 (avg. 2072 degress F) vs. Cone 5 (avg. 2163 degress F) for example, and see how the wire survives. At bisque temp. of Cone 04 (avg. 1943 degrees F) the wire is intact.

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