Maison Matisse's Journal

Maison Matisse’s
Journal

 

Expertise
in the 1869 collection

The collection for Henri Matisse's 150th anniversary mainly features earthenware vases

Earthenware

Earthenware's blend of two types of clay, soft and porous, makes it a one-of-a-kind ceramic. Its clay, lightweight no matter the size of the piece, can be sculpted by casting or turning, and its imperfections are removed using tools in different shapes.

Once fired it becomes a biscuit with a matte finish that's permeable and porous enough to decorate. Brush, airbrush, decalcomania: decorations can be applied in several ways, the low temperature required to fire earthenware - unlike porcelain or stoneware - means you can adorn it with a wide variety of decorations and use brighter and more colorful enamels.

Note: a "high fire" design is painted on cold enamel fired at around 900°C (1652 °F). When applied to enamel fired at a low temperature, 650-730°C (1202 – 1346 °F), it's called "low fire".

Casting was used on the Maison Matisse designer vases

Casting

Casting appeared in the late 18the century and is used to make pieces that are very thin or very large.

First a plaster mold is made and dried. It is then filled with liquid clay. The plaster's porosity enables it to absorb the water in the clay and set it against the mold's sides. Next it is left to set - during which time excess liquid comes out of a special hole - and the piece is removed from the mold.

The process can be repeated multiple times depending on the required thickness.

Use of airbrush on the vases in the Maison Matisse 150th birthday collection

Airbrushing

Airbrushing allows you to apply slips - thin layers of decorative clay - or smooth and uniform enamel to a ceramic.

Colorful or transparent liquid enamel is poured into the canister then sprayed onto the piece by hand. It may look simple, but the technique gets highly complex when the decorated piece features different colors.

That means it has to be prepped by covering some parts, applying a good amount of liquid to avoid drips or poor density and finishing the edges of the design with a brush.

Decalcomania was used on the Maison Matisse designer vases

Decalcomania

It provides a myriad of design options and vibrant colors: you can do all sorts of things with transfer-based decalcomania. The technique involves printing designs onto a white background to bring out the colors more.

A glaze is then applied to the transfer to make it more supple and easier to adapt to different surfaces. The transfer is then soaked in water to dissolve the glue and make it easier to apply to the designs. This manual process requires concentration and precision to achieve a seamless finish. Next comes the decisive stage: firing.

The high temperature (approximately 900°C/1652 °F) and lengthy (at least 15 hours) firing enables the designs to melt into the ceramic to create a body as unique as it is compact. That means the piece will wear far better.