2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Pieces of Porcelain dinnerware [DRAFT]

Project Overview

The integration of computer generated textured vessels, rapid prototyping technology and traditional porcelain slip casting techniques to produce a range of functional, beautifully coloured porcelain dinnerware for everyday use.


The mod collective


Valissa Butterworth

Project Brief

Explore the capabilities of design software to produce a range of functional pieces that stimulate the senses, can be reproduced through slip casting and applied to various vessels and objects. Ultimately to create a number of patterns and shapes that can be combined in an almost infinite number of arrangements to ensure each user has the ability to customise their own range through, colour, texture and shape.
It would also see the development of new moulding processes for me as traditional plaster moulding would not work for my models. Too many undercuts and fine texture. Silicone and rubber were introduced to combat this and then I could make plaster moulds from these to slip cast with.

It was also a journey to prove that technology was not a forbidding force that would spell the end of traditional ceramic practices. The 2 can sit comfortably together, in fact they can open new doorways, allowing ceramic artists to create works they have previously only dreamed of.

Project Innovation / Need

I've explored the use of 3D design technology to produce a number of designs I can apply to the exterior of functional vessels and prototype these pieces in materials I can mould using silicones and methods not traditionally used in ceramics industries.
The result is a range of pieces not able to de produced by any of the traditional ceramic methods however they can be reproduced using tried and tested slip casting skills.
I have reproduced them using traditional slipcasting techniques, the result is a collection of pieces that display the texture and pattern of a computer design while retaining their unique handmade quality.

Design Challenge

The biggest challenge was overcoming the difficulty in understanding how computer design modelling works and then how rapid prototyping works. The 2 do not necessarily go hand in hand. I was able to design many pieces but printing the physical models was a frustrating and at times painful experience, not to mention expensive.
The next challenge was working out how to mould the pieces using silicones, so many silicones and rubbers to choose from and so many restrictions and limitations. Again so expensive as well. This is a mine field that I could not have navigated without the knowledge of the patient people at Barnes.
Then I also discovered not all the designs are able to be pulled from a mould, I had to develop a new understanding of the limitations of plaster moulds and slip casting.


I was able to use local prototyping companies for the majority of my work.
I also discovered when a silicone mould didn't work I could cut it up and use it to backfill other moulds so it didnt end up as landfill.
Discarded porcelain pieces can be smashed and used by mosaic artists.

This award recognises a component or overall product. Consideration given to aspects that relate to human usage, aesthetics, selection of components and materials, and the resolution of assembly, manufacturing and the overall function.
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