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Glossary



Porcelain


Porcelain, which is a type of china, is an interesting substance. It starts life as feldspar, a particular type of rock, eroded and weathered by the elements and broken down to form pockets of clay in the earth. The dug-up clay has other substances added, the whole is sieved and with the addition of water forms porcelain slip, a smooth, thick, pourable liquid. For smaller dolls the slip is diluted until it can be poured into tiny doll moulds without clogging. De-moulded, the shapes of the doll are left for up to three days until they are completely dry and can be worked on. Cleaned of seam lines by rubbing and re-carved where necessary to make articulated joints fit and move, the finished dry parts are fired to bisque at 1200ΒΊ in the kiln. This white hot temperature is reached by heating and insulation over several hours. At the crucial temperature the air that surrounds each molecule of porcelain clay is driven off, thus shrinking the finished item by 12%. The porcelain must cool slowly over many hours before retrieval from the kiln. If hot porcelain is taken into the air it will crack because of thermal shock. Thus porcelain is formed by alteration at the molecular level and, unbroken, will retain its shape and appearance for hundreds, potentially thousands of years, making it an ideal material for use in heirlooms. Fired, unglazed porcelain is porous; glues bond particularly well to it so that head to wig or torso to leather limb joints are extremely durable.


Unworked greenware head on the left; worked, fired head on the right.

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