DIY air-dried porcelain
August 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
Perhaps you’ve stumbled upon one of my previous articles on ceramic lamps and if you read my blog you know that I always try to find great designs which are functional and eco-friendly. That’s why I bash petroleum-based plastic and other toxic materials. Clay/Porcelain is easier to obtain than glass or metal but it’s still energy intensive while making. Air-Dried Porcelain would be a dream come true for DIYers. Consumerism is a plague these days so anything self-sufficient and sustainable is a blessing.
Originating from Argentina, this Cold porcelain, aka “porcelana fria”, is a modeling material mostly used to sculpt small figurines and decorations, but is also ideal for beads and jewelry. It is called cold porcelain because it does not need to be fired. As it dries, it becomes hard, with a velvety, slightly translucent, finish, just like true porcelain. You can dye or paint it.
In a salad bowl (or non-stick pan) mix 3 cups of white glue and 3 cups of cornstarch. Add one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of glycerin*, 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Blend thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Heat in a microwave oven or in a saucepan on the stove.
For microwave heating: Cook in a microwave-compatible recipient for 2 to 3 minutes on high (for a 800W oven; longer for a less powerful oven). Stop every 30 seconds to mix. During the last 30 seconds, stop every 10 seconds to check the consistency of the mixture. As soon as the dough becomes thick and lumpy (like ricotta cheese), remove from the oven.
Stovetop: Cook in a saucepan over low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the dough becomes thick and lumpy (like ricotta cheese) and starts to pull away from the side of the pan, remove from heat.
Cooking is the only tricky step to making cold porcelain. You need to cook just long enough to thicken the dough but not too long, otherwise it will be too hard and impossible to work with.
Coat your working surface and your hands with cold cream or hand cream. Knead the dough until it has cooled. It can be quite hot to begin with, so take care. The dough is sticky and lumpy at first, but as you knead it, it becomes smooth and supple. Make a large ball and store it in an airtight container for 24 hours before using it.
So get creative and if you enjoyed this article spread the word: