Yes, it is smooth. Yes, it is white. Yes, you can fashion things from it. But that is where the similarity ends, because cold porcelain isn’t mineral clay and cannot be fired. It is a modelling compound that you can buy or make yourself, the basis of which is corn starch. After you create something with it, the piece is air-dried, then sealed. If it is unsealed, it can ‘melt’ if it comes in contact with water. Heat is to be avoided, too. There are a number of names for the compound: corn starch clay, cold porcelain and pasta francesa. Victorian salt clay is similar in that it is air-dried. The Artful Crafter says, “I like the porcelain designation because cornstarch based modeling clays are pure white and if sealed after drying, they actually resemble fine porcelain.” I have searched the web to see what people were doing with it, but have found very little that could be considered finer art. Cold porcelain use is mainly on the craft end of the spectrum. I think that is unfortunate because it seems to be a medium a person can do a lot with. There are some serious cold porcelain sculptors out there and one of them is Pakistani artist, Hussain Awan. “I am a cold porcelain sculptor I strive to open new avenues of art in this medium,” he explains on his Flickr site. Please take a look at his pieces called Life, Old Traditional House, and Orchids. The Puerto Rican site, A Wild Thing shows a number of small busts made of the material. The site states, “With this paste we carefully craft our unique designs which mostly depict the heritage of the island.” People in traditional dress are shown on the site. Mexican artist Miguel Armancci has really explored the medium. I like his piece called Triton Rojo. His work has an ethereal feel and the portraits are quite enchanting. I especially like Angel de otoño. However, much of his other work feels too much like manga or is too sexist. Yet, these artisans are among the few who are doing anything serious with cold porcelain. There is an abundance of trite, cute, saccharine work out there but, no matter how well-executed, it is still trite, cute, and saccharine. Clearly, this form needs a wider audience and artist base. I also believe that it is a very accessible art form. Not everyone has access to a kiln. In addition, cold porcelain work is a hobby that is not expensive. This is important because the art of making art is for everyone. I appreciate knowing about a modeling compound that can be made from materials in one’s home: cornstarch, oil and glue. A recipe can be found at Noadi’s Art. Sheryl also directs us to her other site for more recipes: Creating with Cold Porcelain. In addition, The Artful Crafter has a list of dos and don’ts and here is an FAQ.
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