Carving – Chen Min – Sculpture Factory, Jingdezhen © Deanna Roberts 2017
Learning to throw on a potter’s wheel and learning how to create amazing sculptures from clay is one thing… learning to carve into it is another thing all together. That’s why a trip overseas is so worthwhile so that you can learn how to carve into clay in Jingdezhen. It is the porcelain capital after all and where all the masters of this incredible artistry work and live and breathe ceramics. It is the mecca for ceramic artists and is the place to visit to learn about its history and those skills and mastery have been handed down from generation to generation, over thousands of years.
So, if you’re a visiting artist in Jingdezhen, be sure to capitalise on the opportunity to take up a carving lesson. One of the best in the business, one of the masters, is Chen Min. Her carving skills are amazing and her talents are beyond measure. The beauty of Chen Min’s teaching is that she is so patient, so endearing and so skilfull. She’ll work with you, show you every little detail and even provide you with your own set of tools, handcrafted and sharpened by her own hand.
Chen Min and her beautiful work © Deanna Roberts 2017
Here are the basics:
- Create a ceramic piece so that it’s bone dry
- Select your design
- Draw your design on to your piece in pencil
Draw your design first © Deanna Roberts 2017
- Using a narrow carving tool start to carve around the edges
- Using a wider carving tool carve around the outside to slowly taper the edges into the rest of the piece
Use your wider tool © Deanna Roberts 2017
- Use a razor blade (carefully…) to shave off any excess and level out the surface
- Carve the inside edges of your design
Carving the inside of the design © Deanna Roberts 2017
- Dust as you go (those big bushy brushes you can buy in Jingdezhen are the best!)
- Bisque fire your piece and/or glaze your piece (celadon glazes are the best to show off your design) and fire it accordingly
- Brag yourself silly 🙂
Take the time to pop into Chen Min’s studio in The Sculpture Factory too – she’s so accommodating and will no doubt share a pot of green tea with you and show you her work and probably that of her apprentice too.
Chen Min’s studio desk © Deanna Roberts 2017
Travel around Jingdezhen as much as possible and check out some of the carving at the Ancient Kiln Museum and at the Fake Antiques Market too – the work there is simply mind blowing. Many of the larger pots are thrown on the wheel by the big-pot throwers and the walls left thick so there’s something to carve into. The patience and pain-staking work involved is astounding.
Ancient Kiln Museum artist at work © Deanna Roberts 2017
Carved porcelain at the Ancient Kiln Museum © Deanna Roberts 2017