Most of the photographs on my website are of stoneware pieces made within the past year or two. This page is different — the pieces on this page are porcelain and were made during a twenty year period from the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s.

The porcelain jars, vases and bowls I made all had carved surfaces. I've had a lifelong interest in Celtic design, and many of the pieces were an opportunity to explore some ideas in this area. I made trips to England, Denmark and Norway to learn about Celtic and Iron Age Viking art first hand.

Technique — All of the pieces were carved when they were bone dry. The patterns would be lightly sketched on the surface in pencil, a section at a time. The carving tool used was a stainless steel dental tool that had thin, curved ends. It was a slow process of gradually carving back the porcelain to bring out the relief of the pattern. Most of the pieces took many months to complete, and in a few cases, a year or more. It made for a nice contrast of approach with the more immediate, direct stoneware.

Celtic Knots — It's a lot of fun designing these things! The design principles (especially for big, symmetrical knots) can be complicated, but there are two basic things to keep in mind: no loose loops, i.e. no loops that wouldn't pull tight into a knot; and the line must always go under, over, under, over etc. as it passes other lines in the knot. Give it a try!

This vase stands about 26 cm tall and it was completed in 1993. It has a copper barium type blue glaze, with gold leaf at the neck. The glaze was sprayed on to the surface. I worked on this vase over the course of about a year and a half.
Porcelain vasePorcelain vase detail

This lidded jar stands about 26 cm tall and was completed in 1983. It has a celadon glaze. The celadon glaze I used on the porcelain pieces was ball milled for 12 hours before use. Celadons have been used on carved porcelains for over 1,000 years. They pick up the texture nicely and give a carved jade look to the finished work.
Porcelain jarPorcelain jar detail

This lidded jar stands about 28 cm tall and was completed in 1979. It has a celadon glaze, two sides are shown. The decoration on this piece was freely improvised as the work progressed. Several different Celtic styles have been adapted into the overall pattern. As well, the kite shaped pattern is a contemporary tessellation motif.
Porcelain jarPorcelain jar

This vase stands about 25 cm tall and was completed in 1978. The glaze on it was adapted from a well known glaze called Shaner Red. An additional 15 percent of wood ash was added to the glaze to make it this honey colour and more translucent.
Porcelain vasePorcelain vase detail

This vase stands about 30 cm tall and was completed in 1977. It has a celadon glaze. The knot on this vase starts at the dragon's head near the top. It travels around the vase, covering the entire surface, and then ends up as his tail back in his mouth.
Porcelain vasePorcelain vase detail
Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175