The extent to which the ceramic artist controls the physical and chemical changes in water determines, more than any other factor, the success or failure of a ceramic piece. Throughout the Octahedral Porcelain Process, beginning with the addition of water to clay to form slip until it is finally frozen chemically at 1,250 Celcius (2,280 Farenheit) in the matured porcelain, water is omni-present.
At room temperature most of the free water in a piece eventually evaporates through the early stages (fabrication, equilibridization, sphericalization, shaping and drying). After the clay has dried, heat from the kiln will physically remove the remaining free water from room temperature up to 100 Celcius. During the eighth stage (bisque firing) at around 250 Celcius the water of plasticity is driven off. The chemical water is driven of between 400 Celcius and 500 Celcius. Between 500 Celcius and 750 Celcius the organic matter will decompose into the oxides of carbon and hydrogen (water). Finally, the chemical water remaining takes its permanent place within the crystalline porcelain structure.
In living systems, chemical change must take place within the medium of water. So it is with ceramics, where changes leading to the final work take place in the medium of water. The process ends when no further artistic change is possible. This occurs when the water present can no longer be controlled by the artist. During the Octahedral Porcelain Process, the amount of possible change decreases in direct proportion to the amount of water present in the clay. The process ends when after the high firing there is no longer any water that can be controlled. During this last stage, water, the life of the clay, is crystallized in the final piece, a patterned jewel of ordered chaos.
Once dry, the inner and outer surfaces are sanded with very fine steel wool to remove scratches and smudges. To ensure a near perfect final fit, the lid is gently rotated it in its opening while removing excess clay dust. This procedure is done in a well ventilated space, usually outside.
After final adjustments are made to all surfaces, the work moves to Stage 8: Firing.
|EIGHT STAGES OF THE OCTAHEDRAL PORCELAIN PROCESS|