Ceramics artists in Jingdezhen

During my visit in Jingdezhen, I was glad that I had opportunity to meet local artists, Mr. Huang Fei and Mr. Wang Xiao Lin.

Mr. Huang Fei is a self-taught artist and particularly fascinated by western art. He used to work in a tile factory as a traditional blue and white painter in Jingdezhen where he found that he wanted to break through the limitation of traditional painting and truly express himself. Then he started to experiment with his own style of painting in his free time. He combined his years’ of experience in traditional blue and white with western impressionism to create a new unique style of blue and white work.

“Home Sick” is the artist expressing his memories about the place he grew up where the beauty of nature has been integrated into a new expression.

Mr. Wang Xiao Lin who graduated from Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute. Again, the artist has been deeply affected by western art. He uses onglaze materials to create his painting on porcelain tiles. Compared with Mr. Huang, Mr. Wang’s artwork is a complete departure from the traditional style and embraces the western approach.

“Home Sick”, Huang Fei


onglaze painting by Wang Xiao Lin



Wood lathe turning induction

Basically, operating the wood lathe and using the tools (chisels) are similar to the plaster lathe but the setting up is quite different.

First of all I needed to find the centre point and used a compass to make a circle which was slightly within the edge of the block of wood. Then I mounted the wood (judge by eye) on a base brace before securing it onto the lathe. To avoid too much resistant force during the turning the excess wood needed to be removed by the ­­banding saw to give a rounded edge.

After the wood has been secured onto the lathe, we need to find the centre point of the wood then start with a gouge tool and change to use different chisels when necessary.

Gouges (rounded head tool)

Skew (with angled head) – benefit to turn into different angles

Parting tool (arrowed tip) – to separate the wood into two

General steps of turning a bowl

  • Move the tool rest into a position which is close to the wood but without touching the rest. That can be checked by manually rotating the wood
  • The tool needs to be placed on the tool rest to keep it stable while turning. The turning is moving the tool along the tool rest to and fro until the desired depth or shape is reached
  • “Dressing the wood” – trim the wood’s edge until it has a smooth-rounded edge
  • Turn the foot ring about one centimetre depth enough for a clamping tool to secure the bowl onto the lathe to turn inside later.
  • Define the shape of the bowl with various tools.
  • Refinement – sand it with 60 – 240 grit sandpaper, fine-wire-wool ball, 6 times of waxing (Carnauba wax) and polishing.
  • After waxing, the wax takes 24 hours to completely dry and you must avoid touching the surface by hand.

In plaster lathe turning, there is only one speed whereas in wood turning speed needs to be adjusted depending on different working process. In the waxing process, the speed needs to be changed to the highest setting.

Giving extra decoration to the wood before waxing, a wire tool can be used to make burn marks or to use a wood stain to colour the wood.


After meeting external examiner

Considering that the pure form and whiteness of the object are very important elements which I do not want to disturb too much, I took the advice of Mr. Andrew Livingstone to carry out experiment on decorating the stand on which an object will be placed. The purpose of decorating the stand is not only for aesthetic value but also to give direction to the audience to reflect their thought back at the object.

The idea of this intention was derived from my observation of people who reacted to the object while I placed it in my work space.  The object has been sanded 4-6 times by using sandpaper of various grit in order to deliver a skin-smooth-liked texture. This smooth texture, the curvy fullness form and the whiteness of the object convey a tactile quality which attracted people’s attention. Curiosity and imagination were also stimulated at the same time. They started to question what this object is for and how the object would be used or decorated. The object is just like a blank canvas inviting people to put in their interpretation.

Screen Printing

A three-week screen printing workshop with Caroline assisted me in discovering new ideas of adding surface decoration on ceramics no matter which raw material, bisque ware or glazed ware. The printing techniques demonstrated by Caroline were mainly monochrome print.

The print techniques showed in the first week had already been demonstrated by Pete in last year’s Field project, such as using coloured slip, mixing print medium with colour oxide, underglaze and onglaze powder, the use of decal paper and pottery tissue. But it was good to have revision.

In the second and third-week workshops we were taught to prepare, set up and process the proper screen printing technique. The preparation time was rather lengthy but the outcome was well worth it as the technique allows us to consistently reproduce a detailed image.

The image used for printing should avoided containing the colours, grey and mid tones since they cannot be shown clearly. So I used Photoshop to discard the mid tones of my image which left only black and white.

Regarding the image I used, were patterns which were taken from traditional blue and white porcelain then reassembled to form a new pattern. The idea was inspired by Jaime Hayon, who used traditional patterns from Japanese culture to create a series of porcelain wares.

jamie hayon

The screen printing technique is to use light sensitive emulsion and light to expose the image onto a mesh (screen) to make a stencil. The whole process should be finished in dark room as the light sensitive emulsion is extremely sensitive to light.

The emulsion was evenly spread on the mesh by using a squeegee then put into a drying cabinet to dry for about half an hour. As long as the emulsion had dried the mesh was readied for making a stencil. The black and white image was placed face up on an exposure unit then the mesh was put on top of the image. There was a small tube placed between the mesh and the cover of the unit, which was an elastic material, to suck out all the air and then the image was securely clamped in place.

The black area of the image will block the light so the emulsion will not be hardened while the white area will be hit by the light and gets hard. The exposure process usually takes about 4 and a half minutes, and it depends on the quality of the image. After exposing the mesh the unhardened emulsion will be washed away to reveal the image.