So, today I unloaded the kiln, which had bisque fired on Friday.
|Kiln shelf filled with tiny limbs|
|Bottom kiln shelf with heads and torsos|
If you thought casting and soft-cleaning were bad there's still one more horrible dollmaking task. But grit scrubbing is only marginally better, in that it's quicker and less messy than either of those.
When the bisque fired pieces come out of the kiln, they feel rough and grainy to the touch. In order for the china paint to adhere properly to the bisque, it's necessary to polish the porcelain, so that it has a silky smooth finish.
So, I use a special porcelain grit scrubber to polish each and every piece of porcelain, then brush off the dust with a soft, flat brush.
It's time consuming, but unlike casting and soft cleaning, it doesn't require particularly gentle handling, as the fired bisque porcelain is hard and can't be damaged. Unless I drop it on the floor, in which case there's a good chance it will shatter into a billion tiny shards.
Quickly followed by swearing. Lots of swearing.
This is my china painting box which has lots of different compartments in the lid for my vials of china paint. I use special dollmaking china paints, which are supplied in powder form. As I use such tiny amounts, some of these vials are the very first I bought, 30 years ago! They require care in handling, as they contain lead, which is a potent neurotoxin, so I have to be careful not to ingest them, either by inhalation or accidental transfer to food or drink.
Inside the box..more china paints, and two pots of media, which are added to the powders to make them liquid.
Back in the day, I used to use oil based media for mixing my paints, but they gave off fumes during firing, and I had to use special spirit based liquid to clean my brushes.
Nowadays I use water based media, which are less toxic, much easier to use and I can wash my brushes in water.
One is an area medium, which allows the paint to flow and cover areas such as the cheeks and body. The other is a fine line medium, which will hold a very line and the paint won't spread. This is used for eyebrows, lid lines, lip lines etc.
When the media are added to a small amount of china paint powder, they have to be carefully ground and mixed to make a very smooth, creamy paste, just the right consistency for painting.
My paint palette, which looks a bit messy but contains gradations of lots of different colours. As the paints will never dry out, I store my mixed colours in a palette with a lid, which keeps dust and debris out.
In the left hand section are the cheek blush and lip colours, portions of which are mixed with either area or fine line media.
The middle section has a spectrum of eye colours.... blue, blue-green, blue-grey, green, grey, lavender, jade.
The right hand section has brown and hazel for eye colours, as well as brown, blonde, copper and black, for eyebrows, lid lines and lashes.
The small rectangular section at the back right has black gloss, for eye pupils.
After grit scrubbing I sort out the dolls into blocks of 10 so that I can easily ensure the correct number of different eye colours in this batch.
Another vital piece of equipment, my magnifying lamp. The circular daylight bulb is essential for gauging colour.
Finally, my brush pot, which has soft mop brushes for buffing cheeks and bodies, and very, very fine brushes for facial details.
Tomorrow.... first china painting *phew*