Porcelain painting workshop

ANGELA CROMPTON
Last updated 09:28 18/09/2012

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Painting on porcelain is a greater challenge than painting on paper, an Australian art teacher tells women enrolled for a three-day workshop in Blenheim.

Marlborough Porcelain Artists Group was one of several around New Zealand getting Trixie Emery, from Hervey Bay in Queensland, to run a three-day workshop. Emery, an art teacher for 28 years, has taught in New Zealand 14 times previously but this was her first time in Marlborough.

Three women from Nelson joined the Blenheim students. Each started with a plain white porcelain plate and Emery encouraged them to do their own interpretation of a red robin on it.

"Most porcelain artists start off with flowers," Emery says. "Never-ending flowers."

Birds required more skill.

Painting on porcelain is also more difficult than on paper, she says. Layers of paint are gently applied and, after each one, the porcelain must be fired in a kiln at 800 degrees Celsius.

"It's the hardest of all of the arts and the least liked - because [critics] think it's done by little old ladies with nothing else to do."

Her words make the group in Blenheim laugh.

Most have been watching their counterparts grow older since they started doing porcelain art.

"It's a dying art," Marjorie Macdonald suggests, putting an emphasis on dying. "We are running out of old people."

Porcelain art was something women might pick up once their youngest child started school, she says. These days new entrants are usually dropped off by their mothers on their way to work.

The days have long gone when porcelain painting was a formal trade requiring an apprenticeship.

Handcrafted porcelain art will be shown at a St Ninian's Craft Show in Blenheim on September 29.

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- The Marlborough Express

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