Freehanding porcelain flowers is difficult and time consuming. You have to move fast so clay doesn’t dry out too soon... yet you are working with very thinly rolled clay.
So last month I tried Sugardelights silicone molds to see if it would help. Is it cheating?? YES! And life in the porcelain flower world will be easier.
I cannot make the porcelain flowers as thin and alluring as a fondant or cold porcelain maker can. However molds do allow for better veining and thinner petals than before. And Porcelain fired flowers are most durable of the three creations.
After using them for a week I discovered that unlike plaster molds they of course stick to water clays, but no big deal just use cornstarch. This can affect the smooth texture I am looking for so I found letting the rolled clay cut into shapes sit for a tiny bit before pressing in mold lightly worked best.
I use a NZ6 porcelain slip (that’s the clay I use from Clayart center in Puyallup, WA) to adhere the petals even better than before. This technique plus careful attaching and blending seams made much stronger flowers so sanding did not break them as often as before. TIP: press edge of petal thinner before forming so the base is thicker and stronger in end but edges are more transcluscent and realistic.
I still have to sand the greenware carefully. It's the most delicate in this dried stage before firing but good sanding has a large affect on final painting. So using a dry short soft bristle paintbrush works best. But if courageous and extremely patient, I use my Dremel with sanding brush tips. Usually these Dremel tips are used only in the bisque and final high fire stages just before painting.
BUT you must have a very smooth surface to china paint for good coverage and accuracy. Since I work in mostly unglazed high fire (called bisque in some doll porcelain painting circles) its hard to do a super smooth with just sanding, even though I sand four or five times on average each bloom.
This week I received a big order from Sugardelights. Peonies, blackberries, roses, and even a butterfly made from a real monarch.
You can buy these silicone molds from cheap places on amazon, but I liked this company best. Excellent customer care and molds from famous sugar flower maker Robert Haynes. This means there is a bigger variety in one stop shop.
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