PORCELAINia
SCIENCE-ART CONNECTION

Chemistry is the study of changes in matter. More than any other art form, ceramics dramatically demonstrates chemical change, especially at the physical level. The ancient alchemist's efforts to transmute elements were often futile. The ceramist, on the other hand, is more successful in the transmutation of clay into art pieces. Throughout the Octahedral Porcelain Process, science and art are synthesized into a harmonious union when the chemical changes in the clay are internalized at every stage until the sculpture's completion. These chemical changes are facilitated when certain properties are measured and carefully controlled. For instance, a piece's daily rate of moisture loss can be measured to the smallest degree, giving the artist a sensitivity to the level through which each tiny change in the process will affect the final artwork.

Not only is there a "Science-Art Connection" in ceramics, but there is also a connection ("Life Skills") gleaned from working with the clay. Throughout the Octahedral Porcelain Process, the eight areas of concentration, or "elements" denote places where the processes of science and art mesh and enhance one another. Through close and careful attention to each of these elements, the scientist/artist ensures that each individual work will meet its many transformations with success.

Equilibrium is the state approached in a mixture of clay particles and water whereby there will be no difference in density per unit volume. As this condition is approached, the moisture will diffuse from where it is in excess (low density) to where it is lacking (high density).

Entropy is the measure of the disorder in a system of clay , water and colorant, manifesting particularily in the design. There is a tendency in the process for each work to go from a system of high entropy (great disorder) in the fluid slip to one of low entropy (low disorder) after the piece is fired to 1,250C and has become solid.

Evaporation is the process whererby water escapes to air from the clay/water system. This change occurs at the surface and is effected by temperature, humidity, air movement, and surface area and is ongoing as long as there is free water in the system. Differences in density of the inner and outer surfaces occur due to moisture loss. This will increase the probability of cracks; therefore, measures need to be taken to prevent this, such as controlling the rate of evaporation and continual compression of the clay's surface.

MaEnTiSpa (Matter, Energy, Space, & Time) In the physical sciences there are only four changes that can be directly measured. They are matter (grams, pounds), energy (calories, joules), space (centimeters, inches) and time (seconds, days). All other measures are derieved from them (area, volume, force, work, power). Only MaEnTiSpa can be controlled by the artist/scientist to alter the probability that desired changes occur.

Force is that which tends to change the state of motion of the clay. There can be no change without force. In ceramics, forces are physical and chemical. The artist/scientist applies the physical forces usually with his fingers and tools. Nature usually applies force as heat.

Steady State is the process for a system of given mass whereby there is a constant exchange of new material such that the system mass remains constant. As moisture is drawn from within to the clay body's surface, the piece becomes drier and stress will be imposed on the system. To alleviate the stress, moisture must be added back to the surface with care and the mass must remain near constant to retain equilibrium (see definition above).

Closed system is one in which the mass remains constant and only energy is exchanged. In a sealed container, the mass of a piece of moist clay will remain constant even though there are changes in the distribution of moisture within. Through this, energy can be exchanged between the system and its environment without compromising the integrity of a piece.

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