Kyla Francis
Lucy in the Kiln ShedKyla Francis with MoldsStudio - Lower Prospect, NS
The first step in Kyla Francis' process is to make a mold of an object, which may mean casting a found object, or a plaster model she has made herself. She makes a mold that may have up to six or seven parts in order to account for undercuts and mixes up her own porcelain slip recipe from raw materials. The objects are slipcast in small batches and assembled before drying and being fired in a bisque kiln.
The bisqued ware is coated with a photosensitive medium containing metal oxides and is exposed and washed out leaving behind a ceramic photo. At this point, any hand drawn elements and hand painted underglazes are added and then the wares are glazed with Francis' recipes and fired to cone 6. The ware is now fully fired and functional, and some ware will continue on to be hand painted with gold lustre, or to be decorated with her screen printed decals for an additional low fire in the kiln.
Kyla Francis adapts her drawings to three dimensions by arranging her favourites on a two dimensional template of the ware, often deciding on the use of space with a mock-up. Partly by hand and partly on the computer she arrives at her composition and translates it into layers for printing. Each colour in the decal design is printed with a different silk screen so for each one Francis will expose multiple silk screens. Using finely a ground glass flux, refractory mineral pigments and an oil medium Francis mixes her own colours, blending to suit each design and to withstand the extreme heat of the kiln. The glass materials move differently than regular screen inks making the screen printing process a test of the printer’s ‘touch’, requiring a great degree of precision in printing as flaws are revealed in the heat of the kiln.
The top layer of print, a covercoat, is a clear medium printed over the ink layers and separates to become the body of the decal when the paper is bathed in water. The decals are placed on the handmade porcelain and stock glassware and are carefully smoothed out to ensure perfect contact so that when the ware is fired to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit the covercoat burns out completely and the glass colours are melted right into the surface of the glass. Firing the kiln for decals requires precision, so careful monitoring is needed to achieve the desired temperature for a fully incorporated decal that is dishwasher safe.