Rimma Tchilingarian’s Colour Vases
Published on May 8, 2015
The vase is probably one of the most original porcelain objects. In ancient China the surface of the vase was used as a canvas to depict colours and shapes.
Rimma vases are made of premium-quality porcelain kilned at 1350 degree Celsius. The petrol coloured topside is placed on a slate blue bottom and the irregular line patterns are worked into the surface by hand. Each vase is unique and manufactured at a studio in Berlin.
Rimma Tchilingarian studied Industrial and Communication Design at “Fachhochschule Potsdam” (University of Applied Sciences Potsdam). Since graduating in 2013 she works as a freelancer in Berlin. During her studies Rimma already worked and experimented with porcelain. The focus of her work is set on the distinguished characteristics of the material and on types of processing techniques. Achieving a balance between traditional craftsmanship and contemporary depiction was at the core of the studio project.
In recent years there have been numerous developments in the encounter with the white, translucent material. However we often have the image of golden-framed with flowers depicted porcelain still in mind. This might be seen problematic but also as an opportunity to overcome out-dated perceptions and raise a new awareness of this beautiful unique material. To revise this out-dated perception and to emphasize that porcelain is a raw material which can be experienced and interpreted in different ways over and over again was the greater intention of this studio project.
The white and smooth surface of porcelain invites us to apply colours and structures to it. Therefore different materials were added to the raw-mixture. For example paper was used which incinerated while burning leaving only the initial shape of the paper behind. Out of these test series evolved a line of two-parted vases consisting of a top and bottom piece which might be combined individually. The observer feels encouraged to reach out for the porcelain experiencing the haptic moment and revising or broadening his former view of porcelain. However the utmost concern of the studio project is to illustrate the complex and multifaceted richness of porcelain, which becomes obvious in the moment when exploring something one has not seen before.
Since the origin of porcelain manufacturing continuous effort has been undertaken to reach a state of perfection. In an ongoing process urged by the need of utter perfection new techniques and technologies have been developed to bring out the most distinguished qualities and features of the material. With industrialization porcelain reached the next stage of its evolution. Less complex forms and patterns and more standardized and practical products evolved characterized by smooth well-processed surfaces. The objective of the industry consists in manufacturing everyday objects in serial production. These goods are not distinguishable from each other anymore and cope with the need for normativity.
Today there are many designer and art ists who dedicated themselves to porcelain. Questioning existing stereotypes thus defining modern design approaches is their core interest. This project is strongly influenced by those ideas and illustrates that the evolution of porcelain is still in progress. The purpose of this project and the adjunctive material study is to acquire a better understanding of porcelain and by applying an experimental approach highlighting new kinds of processing porcelain.
The city of Selb was once the center of the German porcelain industry. Even though hardly any porcelain is produced there anymore Selb is still worth a visit. The “Porzellanikon” located at the former Rosenthal Factory which closed down in 1969 contains the European Industrial Museum for Porcelain, the European Museum for Technical Ceramics as well as the Rosenthal Museum.
Breaking with the smooth white surface in order to induce tension is something one is not used to from industrial processed porcelain. This new perspective is appealing and intimidating at once. Just as the fear of the white paper, it is also challenging to work with fresh raw porcelain mass at the very beginning. These doubts had to be put aside in order to systematically test different ways of working with porcelain. The focus of this studio project was set on surfaces and colours.
Basics in material properties, procedures and kilning are particularly helpful in the beginning. The daily work at the studio continuously testing and thus improving the results and skills was an enriching experience which enhances everything one already had learned from books and notations. The outcome will be instrumental for further product lines and projects in the future.
While conducting the material study at the studio the first thing to do was taking the porcelain out of its broader context and to focus on analyzing its material-dependent characteristics. To identify the limits of working with the material was the higher goal of the work at the studio. The casting slip Mont Blanc produced by Wittgert was used for the entire study. It has a kiln range of 1250 to 1350 degrees and has a distinguished snow-white body.
Traditional porcelain manufacturers as for example Meissen still produce their objects by hand just as 300 years ago. In the age of industrial mass-production only a few manufacturers are still able to preserve this old and worthy tradition.
During the material study special coloured pigments were added to the liquid casting slip. These pigments are high-fired pigments composed of different chemical substances and are normally used for colouring ceramic glazes. For this project coloured glazes were deliberately not used in order to set the focus on the porcelain itself. While working with the pigments it became obvious how important but difficult it is to find and reproduce the correct ratio of pigments to porcelain. Indications from relevant literature stated a large spread from six to twenty percent. Therefore the correct ratios had to be ascertained by trial and error until the combination of pigments and snow-white casting slip lived up to the expectations.
The experience made throughout the study provides the fundamentals to upscale the results to a larger dimension. Contemplating what might be the best depiction of the gathered results brought the focus back to the history and tradition of porcelain itself. In relation to the ancient Chinese porcelain the shape of a vase was chosen since it resembles the epitome of finest porcelain. Vases were not used to be just everyday products but were used as a surface to tell for example stories from days long gone. Arts, culture, tradition, ceremonies, lifestyle and craftsmanship were depicted on the vases. In a similar way the vases which evolved from this study serve as a canvas to accentuate the findings of this studio project. It resembles a link between the rich and unique tradition of porcelain and new ways of approaching this raw material overcoming its out-dated perception.
Due to the initiative and the passion for collecting of Saxonian King August the Strong Europe’s most comprehensive porcelain collection came into existence. Inventory sheets document that until his death 1733 he collected about 35.000 pieces. Today this enormous collection is located at the Zwinger Palace in Dresden.