Monday, May 10, 2010

Dinner Plate Challenge

Plates. Despite 25 years of making pots, even I have never cared much about ‘em. Plates are dinnerware, and I haven’t really done dinnerware. Making dinnerware means throwing one sort of form repeatedly to the same dimensions, with the same size and angle of rim, the same foot lifting it the same distance from the table. This, sadly, has not been my forte. The gauntlet, however, has been thrown down.

Three weeks ago, I approached a gallery about selling my work, and the owner had a request. Did I make 10” dinner plates? Would I make them of rough brown clay, with not too large a rim?

So now, yes, I will. I’m not sure she’ll want them when I’m done. She has an image in her head of what she wants. I have an image in mine of what I’m willing to do. I’m not even sure I know how to charge the right price. Even so, this challenge is about to break the dinnerware (sorry, bad pun) barrier at M. S. Pottery.

I found a teaching video that told me exactly what I needed to know.

If I can get muscles like this potter's from just throwing plates, that would be cool.

Besides the technique demo, this woman even tells me how much clay (about 3 lbs. per plate), how wide to make the wet plate (12”, which will shrink to 10”), and how to form the rim. Basically, I knew conceptually how to do this, after all, but a little extra guidance got the motion going.

Off I went to Ceramic Supply, got some brown clay that was NOT rough (an executive decision; rough clay scratches your cabinet and table- bad for sales) and got down to business.

It isn't rocket science. I got it pretty quickly. Why'd I wait so long to go for it? Shapes and sizes were approximately similar. Angle of rim had a learning curve, though. Rims all need to match, so the plates can be shelved in a nice neat stack. But rims like to lift when drying. While you are making them, each one has to be made to the same angle as the next, so they will lift at the same angle as they dry. I had to recycle the ones with rim differences back into lumps. After a day's work, only six were set to dry in the kiln room. This morning I threw another 6 on my handy dandy old Lockerbie kick wheel, and I'm about to thrown some more. I’m shooting for a couple dozen this week, or till I run out of brown clay, since this is a trial run and I only bought 100 lbs. Then back to the gallery owner, who can take them or not. If they’re nice, the price is right, and I can scoot some traffic to my website, they may sell there too.

Challenges keep the work fresh, and the work is always having to be fresh, because challenges are perpetual.

Next, maybe, the elusive and so far unsuccessful Seder plate..?

1 comment:

  1. You've done plates before (we have a few in the dairy cabinet), but not in at least a decade, and never as a set. I think it's a good idea. Perhaps you can even do sets - plates/bowls/mugs?