Sunday, June 1, 2008

Pottery: Plates and Pitchers

Of all the things you can make out of clay, you would think plates would be the easiest, right? I mean, what is there to a plate? It's flat, you know. Plates aren't tall and skinny like a narrow-necked object, they don't have steep, curved sides like a bowl, there are no lids or handles - minimal effort for maximum results. At least, that is what I thought.

Surprise! Plates are HARD! I still haven't gotten a decent one. My first plate looked good, but during the trimming stage, I trimmed right through the bottom of it. My second plate blew up in the kiln, probably a result of using re-worked clay. My third plate developed a huge, fatal crack during the bisque firing phase. (I am keeping the pieces for some day when I really need to throw a plate at the wall in frustration.) On the next one, I forgot a step, and the best of the bunch has a big warp in it.

Here's what I have so far:

On this plate, I forgot a step, so it doesn't have any rim. It is flat and balanced, but rather plain. This is my favorite glaze, "blue rutile" on white clay.

This plate has a rim, and the overall shape is pleasing, but I handled it too much during the "leather hard" stage.

My instructor, Rachel, says plates "remember" what happens to them when they are still wet, and even if you smooth out your mistakes before it dries, the mistakes come back to haunt you when the plate is fired.

See the droopy rim?

By the way, this is the first time I have used this glaze. It is called "Saturation Gold" and it does amazing things in different lights. In the first photo, the plate looks bronze.

In low light, it is dark, matte and uninteresting,

but with a flash, it turns all golden.

My first pitcher survived bisque firing and I glazed it this weekend. This is blue rutile before it is fired. When it's done, it will be the color of the first plate shown above.

In a couple of weeks, we are doing a pit firing - putting our bisque-fired pots in a big hole in the ground with fire and all kinds of odd things - coffee grounds and orange peels, copper wires and horse manure, and who knows what else. I think we are getting in touch with our inner primitive selves. I hope to have lots of neat photos of the event to share with you.


Holly said...

Look how far you've come in such a short time! I am majorly impressed. (the gold is awesome, btw). If you have plates that aren't quite right - voila! a chip plate to go with your salsa dish!

Mary C said...

My son has done a lot of pottery/ceramics in the past 10 years, and has thoroughly enjoyed it. My daughter, too, did it for a few years, but didn't really produce some of the sophisticated things her brother has created. I remember when my son created a set of plates to give someone as a wedding gift and was really disappointed in the results. BTW, Kat Doc, you can use those gold plates as part of a center piece for Christmas time. Toss a few holly branches, ornaments and pine cones on it and voila! you have a center piece for the holidays. I've also used some smaller "one-of-a-kind" plates as candle holders. I'm sure you can think of other great ways to use your not so perfect plates. I think your pitcher is awesome. Great job!

Susan Gets Native said...

Well, you could always turn lopsided plates into bird baths.