Wallace Chan to show “super-hard” porcelain jewellery in Hong Kong
By David Brough
December 2018 – Celebrated designer Wallace Chan will exhibit new jewellery pieces made from an exceptionally hard porcelain that he has developed, at the Christie’s Gallery in Hong Kong from January 14-18, 2019.
Entitled “Shapeshifter: The Multiverse of Wallace Chan”, the exhibition will take viewers on a journey through time and space with contemporary sculptures, wearable works of art, and pieces composed of Wallace’s innovations over the past 45 years, including the Wallace Cut, Titanium Mastery, Patented Jade Technology, Gemstone-Setting-Gemstone Technique, Secret Abyss and The Wallace Chan Porcelain.
About 20 porcelain pieces – among some 80 creations in total – will be shown in the exhibition.
All types of one-of-a-kind jewels — earrings, necklaces, rings, pendants, brooches, shoulder brooches, and transformable jewellery pieces — will be on display, along with large-scale sculptures and other contemporary works of art.
Wallace researched and experimented for seven years before developing his new porcelain innovation.
The idea for the material, however, was on his mind for quite some time before then, so one could say the process was decades in the making.
The inspiration for the material originated from a vivid childhood memory. Growing up in a poor family, Wallace and his siblings had to take turns sharing a plastic spoon when they ate.
The adults in the family used porcelain spoons.
Wallace wanted to touch those spoons, and wondered what they would feel like.
One night after dinner, his curiosity got the best of him, and he reached for a porcelain spoon.
Just as he thought he had it, it slipped out of his hand and shattered into a dozen pieces.
The memory of the spoon breaking never left him. He would think that, for such a seemingly sturdy material, it was relatively fragile.
He felt that porcelain deserved to be as strong as the centuries of history surrounding it.
To harden porcelain, he needed to discover the right techniques, and the right materials – ingredients, tools and ovens.
Generally, porcelain is fired to a maximum temperature of 1,400°C; The Wallace Chan Porcelain is fired to temperatures between 1,600°C and 1,650°C.
The material’s endurance of higher temperatures, and its ability to remain stable and consistent throughout, ultimately allows for a stronger, harder and more lustrous porcelain.
Wallace travelled to several countries in search of manufacturers who could build ovens to his very specific requirements.
He eventually found two German manufacturers with whom he built his custom ovens.
Precise calculations are key to a successful creation process: the ovens had to be a certain size, in order to allow for more stabilized heat and so he could standardize and regulate the oven’s temperature to his exact specifications for every creation.
His ovens allow him to control and regulate the temperature at very precise intervals. If at any point, the temperature increased too slowly or too quickly (by even a fraction of a degree), the chemical makeup of the porcelain would be altered and he would not be able to achieve the result he desired, Wallace said.
It was also important to Wallace that he obtained the absolute finest ingredients.
Even an impurity of 0.001% could impact the porcelain’s ability to endure the high heat in the ovens, and ultimately affect the strength and quality of the end result.
The resulting porcelain is exceptionally hard – The Wallace Chan Porcelain is stronger than steel, Wallace says: it will not shatter should it slip from your hands to the floor.
Wallace’s porcelain jewellery features a rich variety of extraordinary coloured gemstones, a key feature of his work.
Many of the creations incorporate both porcelain and titanium – together, the materials make each other stronger.
Wallace loves all kinds of gemstones – from coloured diamonds, to spinel, to pink sapphires and pearls.
Every gemstone has its own unique life and personality.
Wallace strives to bring forth their natural, innermost light in his creations.