To complete a perfect porcelain work is not an easy task, from sculpting the model, plaster casting the molds, slip casting every single part, joining and refining the parts, kiln firing, painting the 22 Karat gold and finally firing for the glaze.
Let’s have a journey with the Shen1300 team via the following chapters.
CHAPTER 1 sculpting
To create the sculpture itself, the master sculptor must pay attention to every detail when forming it from the clay. Every detail from the pose, the texture of the fabric, to even the facial expression must be carefully considered. Every detail is painstakingly and patiently created to then be cast in plaster and refined. Afterwards the piece is then taken for the casting of its mold.
CHAPTER 2 Plaster Casting
Sun Wukong- The Monkey King is composed of more than thirty pieces, during its creation process, each piece would need a mold and each mold would consist of multiple pieces in order to maintain the high degree of detail. Additionally, when creating the molds, the mold master would have to carefully consider the directionality and angle of the cut in order to ensure a seamless finish when joined back together. This cannot be done without years and years of experience. Limited editions like Sun Wukong- The Monkey King, would have all the molds be destroyed once the set number is reached. The molds themselves do have their own lifespan, therefore, sometimes once a certain number of pieces has been made the molds are no longer able to create more. It’s almost poetic in a way that sometimes the molds themselves tell us when a piece has reached its maximum limit in quantity.
CHAPTER 3 Slip Casting
Timing is extremely important when slip casting. Our experienced team has to consider the weather and humidity when casting as it would affect the viscosity and nature of the porcelain slip. The weather also affects the speed in which the slip dries which in turn affects the thickness of the pieces. Too thin, it will collapse. Too thick, it will crack. It’s all about the timing.
Chapter 4 Refining
All the art works from Shen1300 must be perfect, whether it’s a tiny crack, slight warping, or even a small defect is unacceptable. Once there’s something wrong, we would rather start again than fire a faulty item. Additionally, this is also a matter of sustainability as clay can always be recycled. However, once a piece has been fired, the clay can no longer be recycled or reused and all that’s left is imperfection, failure, and a waste of precious resources.
Chapter 5 Firing
The Firing is the most important and difficult part of the entire process. It determines whether an art work succeeds or fails. After the temperature reaches 1300°C it then cools down. After that it’s time to open the kiln and behind the door is not just clay and fire, it’s the spirit of Shen1300.
Chapter 6 Painting
Painting a piece can take up to 20 hours at least for the painters. They work under a special light in order to brush the 22 karat gold onto specific parts, different for each piece. Every mistake is a waste of resources and time. Some mistakes can be undone or fixed. Some cannot.