Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about my miniatures.

Information Page -- Information you may find interesting


FAQ

Welcome to the Porcelain Fantasies FAQ Page.

If you have any questions that you would like answered that are not covered here please E-Mail Me.
 

Are these hand painted or do you use decals?
Do you use a big magnifying glass?
What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain?
How hot does it fire?
What sort of clay do you use?
What is meant by bisque?
How long does it take to make a fairy?
Ok so what part of the process takes the longest?
Where do you get your, china, dolls, doll pieces, molds?
Is everything that you make on your web site?
How do you get all the different sizes of the same shaped piece?
How do you make your molds?
How did you learn to do all this?

Are these hand painted or do you use decals?

Almost all of the pieces I do or sell are hand drawn, hand painted designs which I have done with china paint which is fired on. In the last couple of years I have found a way to make outline transfers for a very few of the more complex designs.  These transfers are the outline of the design and are created by me.  They are fired on and then the design is china painted.   For very detailed designs such as figural designs these will reduce the time required to layout a design on a piece by a significant amount of time.  This allows me to sell these pieces a a lower cost. If such a transfer was used in the creation of a piece it will be so stated in the description.   I try to make china of the highest quality and I feel that hand painted designs result in the best looking and most realistic to scale pieces.
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Do you use a big magnifying glass?

No. I have had to start wearing glasses for the smaller details in the last couple of years but no big magnifyers.  Getting old is hell. I do make sure that I work with plenty of light and try to exercise my eyes while I'm working.
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What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain?

Technically ceramic is a broad term that covers all sorts of clays. However the wares commonly referred to as ceramics, like you would find in a ceramics shop, are earthenware. Earthenware is a clay that is fired at a relatively low temperature and the fired piece is porous (water will soak through the bisque). Most earthenware will fire to a white somewhat grainy texture. For this reason most of the ceramics you see are glazed to create a durable surface that will normally be water proof. Porcelain and stoneware are clays that fire at much higher temperatures than earthenware. They vitrify (melt somewhat) when they are fired to bisque and are not porous when fired to bisque. Frequently you will see porcelain and stoneware that is not glazed, dolls are a good example. Porcelain is also generally transcluscent (light will shine through it) which neither stoneware nor earthenware are. Some porcelains which have been colored to dark colors like black, dark blue, dark green, etc loose some of their transluscency due to the tints that have been added. Porcelain is also generally a much finer grained clay. Stoneware generally has some grog (larger grains of various minerals or fired clay that give the ware a sandy or rough finish) added to give it a rougher finish. Grog also helps to improve the strength of some clays and is frequently added to earthenware clays.
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How hot does it fire?

The porcelains fire in the range from 2200 F to 2615 F (1200 C to 1400 C). Most earthenware clays fire in the range of 1800 F to 2000 F (1000 C to 1100 C). China paints fire in the range from 1220 F to 1480 F (660 C to 800 C) Glass is fired in the range of 1120 F to 1200 F (600 C to 660 C). Most glass will melt at higher temperatures.
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What sort of clay do you use?

I use porcelain which fires in the low range of porcelains at about 2200 F (1200 C)
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What is meant by bisque?

Bisque is clay of any type that has been fired past the point at which it will melt in water but which has not been glazed. When porcelain is referred to as bisque it generally means that it has been fired from the greenware state to maturity but has not been glazed. Since you don't normally see unglazed earthenware, (unless it has been painted with acrylic paints) you don't normally hear something referred to as bisque unless it is porcelain or in some cases stoneware. Dolls are a good example of bisque ware. They are not normally glazed.
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How long does it take to make a fairy?

I'm not really sure it is very difficult to time all the little steps especially when most of them involve working on multiple pieces at the same time. Pouring for example. After a piece is poured it must sit in the mold for awhile before it can be removed. During this time I am pouring other molds. Due to the expense of firing the kiln I try to fill it before I fire it, so numerous pieces are cleaned, or painted before the kiln is fired. Each piece is fired between 3 and 8 or more times before it is completed. There is the firing to bisque, the glaze firing, and then from 2 to 5 or more firings of china paint, gold and lustres. Then if it is a doll it has to be dressed and have its hair. All of these steps take place over the course of 6-12 weeks depending upon the workload and type of things I'm working on. Then there are lots of places where time just falls in the cracks like loading the kiln, unloading the kiln, inspecting pieces for defects, and various other things. Porcelain is a complex process and does not lend itself easily to timing.
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Ok so what part of the process takes the longest?

For China, painting takes the longest. Each piece is painted several times. China paint is transcluscent and the colors must be built up to achieve the depth of color. Also because it doesn't truly dry or set up until it is fired certain details must be added after the basic design is complete. This also applies to lustres and golds which cannot be fired on top of or next to china paint that hasn't been fired. For dolls the cleaning probably takes almost as much time as the firing or possibly a bit more. Painting the dolls takes MUCH less time than painting the china.
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Where do you get your, china, dolls, doll pieces, molds?

I make them. I do have a few commercial molds that I acquired before I started making molds or that were special things I wanted, but the majority of the things I sell are made from molds which I made. Original items are usually sculpted using jewelery wax and then plaster molds are made from that model. Reduction pieces are pieces from molds that were made from an existing piece either porcelain, plastic, glass, or metal.
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Is everything that you make on your web site?

No. I have around 300 molds for different shaped miniature items, nearly 120 of which I haven't gotten pictures of. As I get time I add things to the site but it requires that I have an item made to take the picture of and the time to incorporate it into the site. If you are looking for something that you don't see just ask me. I am happy to answer questions. I am glad to help you out in any way I can by suggesting alternatives that I do have if I don't have the exact thing you are looking for. I also make Native American Miniatures that can only be found on my Native American site and Beads which can be found on my sit Amazing Porcelain
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How do you get all the different sizes of the same shaped piece?

When you fire a porcelain piece from greenware to bisque it shrinks around 10-20% depending upon the porcelain and the water content of the slip you used. If you then make a mold from that piece and then pour it in porcelain the resulting piece will be 10-20% smaller than the first piece. After you have done this about 4 or 5 times the piece will be half the size you started with.
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How do you make your molds?

There is an extensive tutorial that shows how I make my molds on the Ceramic Bead Artists tutorial page.
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How did you learn to do all this?

While I was living in Australia I learned a bit about porcelain and doll making from a lady that lived in the town where I lived. I made my first few dolls with her. After that I bought a kiln and began working on my own. I learned about making molds from another friend and from various books. I learned about china painting from several friends, books, seminars, and demonstrations. Over the years I have developed my own techniques and learned that some things I found in books don't work very well. I have experimented and developed various techniques to improve the way in which I do things.
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