Monday, April 18, 2011


I first thought about etched porcelain after seeing the works of Arne Ase (Norway) and Astrid Gerhartz (Germany) back in the early 1990’s. I immediately became apparent that the use of this technique could be either literal or abstract and this appealed to me. The question back in the early 90’s was how to proceed. In my first attempts I used varnish as a resist and a highly deluted solution of muriatic acid and water as the etchant. This process had lots of drawbacks from a lengthy waiting time for the varnish to dry to the affects the solution was having on my hands and nostrils. Without any real guidance, I was on my own to solve these problems.

Over time, I settled on simple wax as the resist and a solution of the cheapest vinegar I could find mixed with water (4 parts water to 1 part vinegar). This combo has proven to be the best for my uses together with a stout sponge and the right touch not to break the greenware.

Illustrated is a before and after picture of an etched porcelain teabowl. The etched design is of the kanji “JU” which represents long life or longevity. I refer to it as O-Ju, the Big Life, and it is bordered by a net design. The teabowl is glazed in my temmoku and haiyu glazes, which despite softening the visual of the design, the etched surface is very tactile and as a recent client commented, “it allows you to feel the JU”.

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