In my Grandmother's house were pine shelves flanking either side of the fireplace. All the shelves were lined with colorful china tea cups and matching saucers. Porcelain is the china clay that the cups and saucer sets were formed. Originally, porcelain clay was found only in China, so that all things made with this porcelain clay was deemed china.
When I was a child, I stared at my Grandmother's tea cup collection and wondered why she had so many. She drank tea, but did she drink out of all the cups? I thought, I should take notice if she drank from a different one each day I visit. Clearly, I had not yet learned the art of collecting.
Over the years, I studied the shapes of the cups with the handles. Each handle cascading off the unique sloping surface. I marveled at the line-up of tea cups and matching saucers leaning behind the cups like backdrops to a play. The real star was the cup and it’s fancy handle and the wonderful painted colors.
My porcelain artwork lines up very pretty and the sculpted design is the star. Every shape formed becomes the backdrop. That is as close as my porcelain comes to Grandma’s porcelain.
Grandma’s collection takes me back to a quiet time when we truly sat still and quiet. We really enjoyed the look of our collection. Time moved slower. I can’t go back to her house, but I can make something new out of the china clay used in those cups. I could call my artwork china. It would be the truth.
This is one of the most asked questions. Clay is defined as A soft rock based compound often used for sculpture and tools. Clay is dirt, mud and the resulting sculpture or tools are called ceramics. Porcelain on the other hand is the Jaguar, the luxury vehicle brand mud. Hundreds of years ago the Chinese discovered Porcelain clay deep inside caves. The artwork and dishes they formed from the beautiful pure white clay was sought after almost as much as gold and more than spices. European royalty bought the dishes to show off their own wealth. Seven hundred years after the porcelain was discovered in a cave, Europeans discovered their own Porcelain clay recipe by an alchemist.
I don’t get my porcelain clay from a cave. Mine comes to me in a plastic bag to keep it moist and a box strong enough to hold 50 pounds at a time. I don’t suffer for my art like the Chinese did a long time ago. I am happy about that. Leaves me more time to decorate the pots I thrown on the potter’s wheel.