Sydney-based design team Oditi Designs conscientiously ethically produce a range of fine porcelain products featuring both minimalist and artistically inspired hand-painted elements.
As a result of studying the art of ceramics at tertiary level, Oditi Designs creates hand-crafted products with a precision that reflects their design aesthetic.
Chosen to enhance the customer’s experience, Oditi Designs' items are hand-crafted using porcelain slip. Proudly utilising natural and non-toxic material ensures the safety of both the maker and the customer.
In comparison to earthenware or stoneware, porcelain is a more refined material whilst remaining robust and strong, and can be more expensive for that reason. Although a finer and less gritty material, porcelain has a lower water absorption rate and is a denser material.
Why 'Mid-Range' Porcelain?
Oditi Designs specifically uses mid-range porcelain, preventing the need for high firing temperatures in the kiln which require more energy and time. Mid-range porcelain can be glazed and fired at a 'mid-range temperature', or cone 6 as it’s known in the ceramic world. As a result, Oditi Designs has a lower carbon footprint when compared to other ceramics businesses who purpose materials that demand higher kiln temperatures.
Characteristically bright and white, translucent and smooth, porcelain provides the perfect canvas for Oditi Designs' products featuring their signature hand-painted elements and gold lustre embellishments.
Priding themselves on sourcing materials from local businesses, Oditi Designs purchase their ceramic materials from the Central Coast of NSW, Western Sydney, Western and South Australia.
The casting slip material used by Oditi Designs is bought as a dry powder, whereby water and other ceramic materials are added. This mixture has to be left to absorb water for at least 72 hours before use. Mixed using a hand-held power drill the material is then sieved through fine mesh and is then ready to be used for slip casting.
Prototype to Plaster Mould
The porcelain creations of Oditi Designs have a variety of development processes, depending on the final product.
Commonly it begins within ceramicist Cecilia’s creative mind, who draws preliminary sketches from her artistic inspiration, sometimes employing Photoshop software to ensure precision in angles, measurements and lengths.
A prototype is then developed, either on the potter’s wheel using clay or sometimes from other materials such as timber. Once dry, the prototype is bisque and able to be used to create a master plaster mould from which to construct future duplicates of the item.
Making the moulds
The creation of the plaster moulds takes about 48 hours from start to finish. For each of the products each side of the mould represents a three dimensional half of the finished product. Ensuring that the middle line is centred and each mould is a mirror of one another is super important for accuracy in the finished result.
On day one the prototype is laid in a bed of recycled clay. The recycled clay is stored separately in a sealed bucket so that the clay does not dry out and it doesn't get mixed up with clean clay. If plaster goes in with clean clay and it's used to make a vessel that will be fired in the kiln, disastrous explosions can occur. Yikes.
Cecilia adds more recycled clay around the prototype, and it's builded up to the centre line where the two sides join and all around the object. This time consuming process ensures that there is a clean midline and that the mould will open easily once created.
With this process comes the risk that items can be stuck within the plaster and the team has to start all over again.
Pouring the Plaster
Day two of mould creation and timber panels held in place with claps are placed on the outside of the clay to form a sealed boxed. The plaster mixture is made and it has a watery consistency. The watery consistency allows the plaster mixture to pour into all crevices in the prototype. The box holds the plaster until it’s fully set.
Once set, the clamps and timber panels are removed. The prototype is embedded into the plaster and the other side of the prototype is still embedded into the recycled clay.
The recycled clay is removed from the prototype carefully. The area is cleaned and the timber panels and claps are placed around the plaster holding the prototype, ready for the plaster. The plaster is mixed and poured into the timber panels holding the prototype until is covered. The plaster is left to set.
The timber panels are removed. Now the prototype is fully covered by the plaster. The plaster looks like a block of plaster consisting of two sides of plaster. The plaster sides are opens carefully and the prototype is removed.
Now the mould is cleaned. The mould is then left to dry for up to a week, even longer when the weather is cold and wet, at which point it’s ready to be used to slip cast.
As the moulds don’t last forever, new versions are made as needed. Particularly for popular products like the geo mugs, where new moulds are made every couple of months.
Contrary to popular opinion, plaster moulds do not make the making process easier or quicker. After the many hours spent making a robust plaster mould, more cleaning of the cast objects is required as they come out of the mould.
The slip casting process is used with the plaster moulds where the slip material or casting porcelain slip is poured into the plaster mould and allowed to set. The porcelain slip is left inside the plaster mould until the porcelain slip starts to set on the walls of the plaster mould. As the porcelain slip sets, the slip changes from a liquid state to a solid state.
After a period of time, eg: 15 minutes, the porcelain slip is poured out of the plaster mould and turned upside down to allow all the liquid porcelain slip to drain out. Now the plaster mould has a solid material all around the inside of the mould. The thickness of the solid material depends of the time the liquid porcelain slip is left in the mould. The longer the liquid porcelain is left in the mould the thicker the wall of the vessel will be.
The item is then left to dry inside the mould until the object starts to untick from the walls of the mould, at which point it is removed, trimmed and cleaned and ready for the assembly process if required.
Samantha and Cynthia assist with the pouring of the slip, removing the cast vessels from the moulds and cleaning. Watch Cecilia doing this process.
Using a cardboard template for measurements, this is the point at which handles are attached to the body of the cup for example. The surface of the vessel is firm but its soft enough to add the distinctive Oditi stamp.
For products such as the Oditi Designs signature Red Polka Dot Doll Lulu, they are carefully left to dry inside plastic bags. This allows drying at a slower rate, preventing cracks where the hand sculpted pieces are added onto the head of the doll for example. This process can take up to a week and a half.
After the item is air dry, the 'Handmade in Australia' words are hand painted onto the base of the item. Cecilia, chooses to leave a trace of her hand on the surface of each vessel as evidence that the object is trully handmade.
It is at this stage of the process that the items are ready for the hand-painted elements Oditi Designs is known for. Whether it’s the signature cobalt blue splashes, or the popular doll cups, every single product has been meticulously and individually produced and designed.
The object is bisque, then glazed and fired for a second time in the kiln.
Samantha and Cynthia contribute to the making process by undertaking tasks that are not technical such as unpacking the kiln, putting kiln equipment away, organising the many buckets, moulds and equipment in the studio, pouring slip, sieving slip, amongs other tasks.
If the objects have gold, then the lustre containing 12% gold is hand painted on the vessels and fired for a third time. The gold painting task is a favorite of the team because the entire team contributes to this task. They sit around the workbench together, while one cleans the the vessels, the other paints the gold lines and they share anecdotes from the daily lives.
Oditi Designs uses an electrical kiln manufactured by Woodrow Kilns a local supplier from the Macarthur region of Sydney.
To see the end results of the ceramics process by Oditi Designs, have a look in the shop by clicking here.
Ceramic lustre is a metallic material applied to the surface of a glazed product. Ceramic lustre is available in a variety of different colours, however Oditi Designs prefers to use only Gold.
Oditi Designs gold lustre contains 12% real gold and it is very expensive to buy. The gold lustre is applied onto the surface of the pieces using a brush.
Once the gold lustre is applied, it is then fired for the third time in the kiln. This process enables the ceramic gold to be fused into the surface of the vessel permanently.
Ceramicists Vocabulary - via dictionary.com
a strong, vitreous, translucent ceramic material, biscuit-fired (bisque) at a low temperature, the glaze then fired at a very high temperature.
NB: Oditi designs uses mid-range porcelain which requires a mid-range temperature (Cone 6)
a pottery-making process in which partially liquefied clay is poured into a plaster mold.
Mould / Mold
a hollow form or matrix for giving a particular shape to something in a molten or plastic state.
a frame on which something is formed or made.
Also called biscuit ware. Usually fired to 1000 degrees celsius. vitreous china that is left unglazed.
a furnace or oven for burning, baking, or drying something, especially one for firing pottery, calcining limestone, or baking bricks.
A thin coating containing unoxidized metal which gives an iridescent glaze to ceramics.