November 2, 2022 at 8:02 p.m.
Prairie Porcelain Painters share knowledge, skill, conversation
Pink day lilies filled a back room at the Albany Bowling Center the week of Oct. 10. While they weren’t real, they were true-to-life depictions on tiles and pitchers.
The Prairie Porcelain Painters were learning porcelain painting techniques from instructor Vida Klocke. Painting were Denise Stachnik, of Avon; Kathy Becker, of Eden Valley; Darlene Gruber, of Freeport; Amy Gruber, of Chaska; Diane Langner, of Holdingford; Mary Loecken, of Melrose; Diane Jesh, of Freeport; and Lucy Thomas, Lois Hanson and Lori Lochen, all of Albany.
The four-day seminar, Oct. 10-13, was possible thanks to a $2,700 Minnesota Legacy grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board in Foley Loecken applied for.
The group of close to a dozen women have been gathering together Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for close to one year producing porcelain paintings. During the summer they painted at the BoHo Cafe in rural Holdingford and at the Albany Bowling Center in Albany the other months. They share knowledge, techniques and conversation while participating in an art they love.
Ten women signed up for the seminar. Klocke, from Underwood, North Dakota, is a long-time porcelain painter.
She said the challenge of porcelain painting is it is not just about painting on a canvas to hang on a wall
“I do jewelry, ornaments, tiles, vases, three-dimensional pieces,” she said. “I work with building textures onto things and incorporate glass into the different techniques.”
Klocke said American artists, at the turn of the century, did mostly traditional painting.
“But we got a lot of our influence from European artists, who are way ahead us,” she said. “We try to get away from the tea cup thing from grandma and give it a contemporary kind of a flow.”
She said people often think porcelain painters just put the paint on and give it a quick fire.
“We fire it in layers to get the translucency,” Klocke said. “Each time we fire to 1,400 degrees that mineral paint absorbs into the glaze. Each time you paint you leave some translucency just like you would with water color.”
She explained it is the layering of the firing of the colors that gives porcelain projects that depth and translucent look.
“It takes time to build up your textures and values, and that’s why it’s a fine art, because all the color art and theories apply,” Klocke said.
That lends a uniqueness to each porcelain piece.
“You want drama,” Loecken said.
She said pure minerals in power form is mixed to form the paint.
“Everybody has their own formula,” she said, holding a small container of Perfect Rose China Paint powder.
Some Prairie Porcelain Painters have their own kilns for firing porcelain pieces.
A few are long-time painters and others are new to the art.
“Darlene, Lucy and Diane are the most experienced in porcelain painting,” Loecken said.
They all share a passion for this art form and encourage others to join them.
“We will help anyone starting out,” Loecken said.
A prime example is Darlene Gruber who encouraged daughter Amy Gruber to join the group.
“I had to get somebody interested in china painting so when I’m not here she can take over,” Darlene said smiling.
The day lilies came to life Oct. 13, the final day of the seminar, but you can bet these ladies will return for more porcelain painting.
“There is lots of beauty in this art,” Loecken said. “We believe art enhances life.”