Barbara Cahn adds color to her porcelain baskets before she sculpts them.
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There is something special about porcelain that has spanned many cultures over many years, and yet it still seems to not be widely recognized. This is the ability to add color to it before it is sculpted. This is only one of the techniques used by Barbara Cahn that makes her porcelain baskets so fascinating and unique.
Cahn adds powdered oxides to her porcelain clay and kneads it until the color is fully incorporated into the clay. Then she takes several of these colored clays and forms patterned blocks. The multicolored blocks are then cut into slices, and each slice is rolled out by hand with a rolling pin. She works this way in order to assure the colors do not mix and dilute. Once a desired width is achieved, each slice is cut into strips. Each strip has various colors within it, which creates a soft rainbow effect.
These strips are laid upon a balloon or beach ball, one on top of the other, until a lattice-like look is achieved. The piece is then left to dry upside down until the clay has hardened enough to carry its own weight. Next the balloon or beach ball is deflated and removed, and a wooden paddle is used to bang the basket into the final stages of its shape. The piece is then allowed to dry fully and is fired. A clear, food-safe glaze is added, and the piece is fired a final time. The outcome is a very distinct basket that attracts the eye and forces the viewer to take a second look.
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