Recipe for Dessert Plates

Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 in How-to, Plates, Throwing | 0 comments

When I make a new pot (a new design or different form), I consider several things: Glazes (yes, this is a consideration from the beginning) Pot function Pot scale Foot, rim, and appendages Part of the design process is working out the logistics; and, taking notes makes it easier to keep track of those logistics.  In order to make pots efficiently, I need to know some basic stats (weight and size).  And, as I don’t remember details well, I keep the information corralled in a notebook.  For me, this one of the most important parts of developing/designing a pot.  For example, last year, when I made several dessert plates, I developed a ‘recipe’. First I started with the ending in mind.  I wanted a finished plate with a diameter of 6”; so I used the LidMaster calipers (set on the 12% shrinkage scale) to determine that I needed to throw the plate approximately 6 ¾” in diameter.  I weighed 3 balls of clay – 1.25 lb, 1.5 lb, and 1.75 lb.  After throwing each plate to the same dimensions, I found 1.5 lbs to be an appropriate amount of clay for a plate with a foot ring.   Then I edited my notes and I continue to use them as a reference. However, yesterday while I was making dessert plates according to my recipe, I realized I had too much clay to make the size plates I usually make.  I felt like the rims were too wide with 1.5 lbs.  So I reduced the clay by 2 ounces and all came out well. It is true that very soft (moist) or hard (dry) clay will affect your throwing efficiency.  But the larger factor is often throwing ability.  As throwing efficiency improves (i.e. you use the clay rather than leaving it in the bottom of the pot), pots will get larger.  So the large bowl that you used to make with 5 lbs, you can make with only 4 lbs.  This is a huge step in your development as a...

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A Potter’s Most Valuable Skill

Posted by on Apr 22, 2011 in Carving, Creamer and Sugar Set, Critique, Glazes, How-to, Plates, Slip Trailing, Surface Decoration | 0 comments

The most beneficial thing that I have gained by attending workshops is participating in critiques.  And, although subjecting my pots to open opinion was uncomfortable, I have had really positive experiences and gained a lot of insight. Self-critiquing is a powerful skill that is worth incorporating.  Since I have been conducting self-critiques and critiques with Julie, I am more cognizant and focused about what I want to make.  I have begun to balance awareness of my weaknesses with recognition of my strengths.  And, I know what I want to do and what I want to try which makes me feel more confident. For me, there are two main categories – technical (throwing questions) and aesthetic (design questions).  One of the most important aspects of a self-critique is the ‘why’.  Asking ‘why’ makes the initial and emotional responses to the pot tangible.  It also keeps me from being lazy and casually dismissing a pot. Here are a few things that I think about when I critique my pots: Technical Is it proficiently thrown?  (functionality, weight, rim/foot thickness, handle width) What is the first part of the pot that I notice and why? How does it feel (sharp, heavy, smooth)?  Is that what I intended?  Does it work? What do I need to be mindful of the next time I make this shape (more clay, throw thinner, leave rim thicker, clean up better, stronger attachment)? Aesthetic Does this pot ‘work’?  Why/why not? Is it balanced?  Should it be? Does the surface embellishment enhance/hide the pot shape? Does the glaze hide/enhance the surface embellishment? Does the glaze enhance/hide the pot shape?  Is that good?  Why/why not? Does the transition from one glaze to another work?  Why/why not? Is there an opportunity to enhance contrast (use a satin/matte with a gloss glaze; add complementary color glaze; incorporate more texture) What will I change the next time I make this form (glaze, texture, shape)? What questions do you ask yourself about your pots? Creamer – Swirl designs make the creamer feel fun. The raspberry glaze breaks wonderfully over the raised slip – more successful harmony between glaze and texture. Bowl Set – The rim is a good choice for carving because it gives a defined space for texture. However, some of the carving is lost in the raspberry...

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Considerations and Logistics: Brush Strokes

Posted by on Apr 19, 2011 in Bowls, Brush Strokes, How-to, Mugs, Plates, Red and White, Resist, Spring Snow, Tools | 0 comments

In this series of entries, I am sharing some of the discoveries I am making as I try to add texture and interest to my pots. Some techniques I have been experimenting with are: Slip trailing Carving Brush strokes Tape and wax resist Technical – Technical logistics include types of glazes and brushes.  Although this has been the easiest of the logistics to resolve, it eluded us for a while.  We kept trying to paint fine lines with thick brushes – that doesn’t work.  Fine lines require very fine brushes. Method – The preferred method is to paint underglaze on greenware  because it can be wiped it off if I make a mistake.  After the bisque-fire, it won’t smudge when I dip the pot in another glaze.   I have also used underglaze on top of glaze which is good for lines but not as good for designs. Glaze response – Understanding the properties each glaze exhibits has been key (this is a prevalent truth).  Translucent and clear glazes allow the underglaze to show.  In order to use opaque glazes, brush strokes need to be applied on top of the opaques. Design – All that the factors I identified with slip, carving, and resist are true with brush strokes – what patterns, how do the patterns relate to the rest of the pot, how to designate a space on the pot.  However, this application demands a bit more representative drawing...

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Homemade meals, homemade pots

Posted by on Feb 10, 2011 in Bowls, Dinnerware, Plates, Spring Snow | 0 comments

“Two other fashions (read: plagues) I’d like to see go away this year are the omnipresence of white plates (someone please have mercy) and cheap, uncomfortable restaurant chairs.  I’d give anything to walk into a restaurant with rich, dark, plush furnishings that make you want to sit in them for hours and eat off some china with a bit of personality.”     – Laura Calder (Cookbook author) Finally!  Some one who agrees with me! White plates may be great for photographs but they do little for the dining experience. I really like to cook and I love to feed people.  And, since I have been potting, I really enjoy using handmade pottery because it enhances the entire meal.  True foodies (which I am not because I occasionally use minced garlic from a jar) prefer white dishes to showcase the food.  But, there is so much soulfulness in handmade dishware; it seems a befitting honor for a well-made meal to be served on a one-of-a-kind...

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Set and Match

Posted by on Feb 8, 2011 in Bowls, Dinnerware, How-to, Multiples, Orders, Plates, Pottery, Selling Pottery, Throwing, Tools | 0 comments

We finished a commissioned order of dinnerware which included 16 dinner plates, 12 salad plates, 12 bread plates, 12 cereal bowls, and 12 chili bowls.  So I wanted to review some things that we learned while making the dinnerware order. A successful set is uniform, stack wells, and relates to the other pieces in the series. In order to make uniform pieces, we developed a ‘recipe’ for each piece by identifying the critical measurements in each of the pots. For example – dinner plate: 5.5 lbs of clay Open to 10 inches wide Pull rim to 2 inches Round the rim with chamois Final plate height is 2 inches Trim external foot width to 7” Dry plates slowly with bats/boards to keep the rims from popping up For the bowls, we measured the clay, opened to an established diameter (inner diameter), pulled to maximum height, opened to final width (outer diameter), and trimmed to a specific foot width. We kept the recipes in the studio notebook.   Initially, we used the calipers to determine the critical measurements.  But after firing, we ‘tweaked’ the recipes. Starting with the same amount of clay and monitoring the critical measurements helped ensure uniformity.  Julie made a throwing gauge that really sped up production. The commission was for 12-16 pieces in each set, which proved to be the real challenge (once upon a time, making a set of 4 seemed challenging!).  In addition to all our measurements, we made extra pieces of each pot so we could assemble the best matched set.  Nonetheless, there were still variations – after all, the sets were handmade.  We did a survey of the dishware in our kitchens and realized that manufactured dishes have variations too.  Julie and I defined acceptable levels of variation for our sets.  And, I think we were successful because the dinnerware is uniform, stacks well, and makes sense...

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Guess who’s coming to dinner

Posted by on Feb 7, 2011 in Bowls, Dinnerware, Glazes, Multiples, Plates, Pottery, Selling Pottery, Uncategorized | 0 comments

We’re done!  Julie and I finished the commissioned dinnerware set.    What a fun project.  It looks really good and we are excited to deliver it to our client.  65 pieces – 16 dinner plates, 12 salad plates, 12 bread plates, 12 cereal bowls, 12 chili bowls, and a serving bowl. Making sets of 12 was challenging.   The pieces needed to be similar and stackable – how else would you store 24 bowls? There were several unforeseen challenges.  When we began making dinner plates, we had to bring several tables into Firetower Studio West in order to have space to let them dry.  The rims had a tendency to pop up so we had to weigh them down with boards until they were dry enough to invert.  Not to mention that we had a limited supply of throwing bats. Overall, it was a great project and an incredible opportunity.  Now I am inspired to make my own set of...

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