Thursday, October 15, 2009

Argentina: Dreamland for Cold Porcelain Clay

by Ernesto Baldini, Guest Author
It's hard to know when it all started, but it's clear that it was in the 80's when it exploded. The work of Marta Ballina in cake decoration (using sugar paste) made the foundation, and then it was only a matter of overcoming some prejudices. Certainly some TV shows in the last half of the 90's and easy access to supplies (many of them used also in cake decoration) did the rest.

I'm not the one to make a detailed history of how cold porcelain clay became so popular in my country, for my introduction to it is only about six years old, however, nowadays in Argentina, it's not only easy to get access to all you need to make your own homemade cold porcelain clay* but you can also buy it at very affordable prices. There are more than 20 brands from which to choose, each of them with their own characteristics. I've tried several of them and have my favorites, of course, but that's another topic. The point is, that you can choose from harder or softer cold porcelain, translucent and opaque finish clays...all of this depending upon the brand.

The heaven for the cold porcelain crafter does not end in the clay itself. Cutters in every shape you can imagine; soft moulds in silicon rubber or hard resin moulds that include everything from faces to feet, flowers to animals; plus magazines with step by step instructions, such as Porcelana Fria. Also, modeling tools and a big variety of paint to color your clay. There are at least six major brands of cutter manufacturers, six for moulds, at least five for modeling tools and four brands for cake decoration colors (I prefer using cake decoration colors to tint my cold porcelain instead of paint). One brand in particular -Fleibor- has a fantastic range of colors both in paste, powder and glitter effects.

This is possible for there are a lot of people using cold porcelain and cake decoration supplies and a lot of people teaching the techniques in Argentina. I can say, with no fear to fall into a mistake, that we have four of the greatest cold porcelain artists worldwide, each one with their own special techniques. There are also several formal institutes and countless instructors.

The popularity of the cold porcelain hobby can be reflected in the many expositions that take place in Buenos Aires, the capital city and where I live. Last year there were four major shows, three of them dedicated exclusively to cake decoration and cold porcelain. This year three more are taking place. Several of these shows have an open contest both in cold porcelain modeling and cake decoration. Some have different levels and different categories for both cold porcelain and sugar paste. Shows will also feature the work of the organizer (when it's run by a teacher or an institute, the work of the pupils is also shown). Some shows feature the work of other artisans as well.

But that's not all: Suppliers for colors, tools, moulds, cutters and clay gather at the shows to demonstrate new stuff and sell their products at better prices than found at craft shops. Having in mind that our local money is devaluated compared to our neighbors (and, of course, to USD and €), we often see many foreign tours attend the shows to buy stuff and make commercial contacts.

As you can see, cold porcelain has it's very own paradise here! Now we can add the fact that some Brazilian products are making their appearance on the scene (mostly new silicone rubber moulds), which means popularity continues to grow. But, as every Titan, it has it's Achilles' heel...very few products can be found that can be used for 1:12th scale modeling. Guess what, I'm a mini artisan! Other than that small problem, in my humble opinion, cold porcelain is a great medium for miniatures, especially for flowers.

A final thought: All this development around cold porcelain clay was a detriment to popularity of polymer clay, which has never gained the support it has in the USA. In Argentina, polymer clay made its appearance in the form of a local brand and then was discontinued. But, if you are looking for cold porcelain or cold porcelain supplies, Argentina sure is a place to have on mind...it's a dreamland for cold porcelain clay!

*You can find many recipes for making your own cold porcelain in the Files section of Air-Dry-Clay Yahoo Group.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for such a detailed response to this phenomenon I have been using CP for just under a month and I am in love. Sadly most of the publications, sites etc use the Portuguese or Spanish language. Please let me know if you find out about any English stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Many tutorials from Porcelana Fria have been translated here or at my other blog: ColdPorcelainCuties.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blog mentioned above has been renamed to ColdPorcelainTutorials.blogspot.com

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  3. This blog is really helpful regarding all educational knowledge I earned. It covered a great area of subject which can assist a lot of needy people. Everything mentioned here is clear and very useful.
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