Thursday, 5 July 2012

Adventures with cold porcelain

Or, more accurately, cold “porcelain”.  This stuff’s not actually porcelain; it’s made with PVA and cornstarch.  See this Instructible for details if you want to try it.  Yes, it really is that easy.
This seems to be a very versatile medium, and one which allows for a lot of possibilities.  Brazilian sculptor Katya Tchervev produces incredible work in this medium - you can see some of her work by clicking the link.  This being my first attempt with the stuff, I'm not doing anything as ambitious as Katya does.  I'm starting small and making some little teeth. 

Only the teeth themselves are made with cold porcelain.  The jaw and tongue parts are paper mache.  Here are some shots of the teeth in progress:

Teeth in a pile.  Not very exciting looking at this stage.

Attaching the teeth to gums.  At this stage, I call them Satan's dentures.

For my review of cold porcelain as a sculpting medium and some tips based on my experience, see after the jump.
The good:

It's cheap, cheap, cheap!  Did I mention it's cheap?  Being just PVA and cornstarch (cornflour), it's by far and away the most budget-friendly modelling clay option out there and you can whip it up in the kitchen in a few minutes.  It's also about as durable as FIMO once it's dried.  You can sand it, glue it, cut it, and paint it.  My teeth were given a thin wash of colour to stain them a bit and make them look more realistic, and the cold porcelain took the stain very well.

The bad:

Clearly, Katya does something different to what I did with her cold porcelain.  There's no way I could get the kind of detail she does with the stuff I made, and I found I couldn't really stick two pieces of the stuff together.  That's why I only made teeth and not the whole jaw.  I suspect this is just something I need to experiment with to get the recipe a bit more malleable.

It's not water resistent either.  I strongly recommend using a sealant or varnish on items made with this stuff to prevent deterioration over time.

Would I make it again?

Hell yes!  Overall, I think this is a good medium with a lot of possibilities, and it's one that I'm happy to keep experimenting with in the future.  If you're reading this with a view to trying cold porcelain for yourself, my main advice would be that you should expect to do a fair bit of experimenting with the recipe to get a product you really like.  And soak your bowl and utensils in hot soapy water immediately, because it dries like concrete.