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How to Make Slab Pottery Plates

2012-08-24   Views:12

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Making slab pottery plates is a wonderfully versatile craft. It's an activity that can be suitable for children or it can be a complex art form, depending completely on the materials and equipment available and the amount of time you want to spend pe

How to Make Slab Pottery Plates

Making slab pottery plates is a wonderfully versatile craft. It's an activity that can be suitable for children or it can be a complex art form, depending completely on the materials and equipment available and the amount of time you want to spend perfecting your skills. The first decision you need to make is what kind of clay to use. For a school project, clay that dries in the air, such as Amaco Mexican Pottery Clay or Amaco Marblex, would be a good choice. For an at-home project, you might select a clay that hardens when it is baked in the oven, such as Della Robbia Oven Bake Clay.

Skill level:Moderately Easy

Things you need

ClayPiece of canvas or plasticRolling pinMold platePotter's trimming tool or butter knifeCheeseclothAcrylic paint, cookie cutters, stencils (optional)Pottery glazes (optional)

Instructions

1 Wedge a piece of clay that you estimate to be big enough to complete your plate, probably a sphere about the size of a baseball. Cover your working surface with plastic or canvas. Place your hands on either side of the ball and push forward and downward, as if you were kneading bread dough. Pull the ball of clay back toward you to make a cylinder. Turn the ball of clay and repeat about 30 times. The purpose of wedging is to get the air bubbles out of the clay.

2 Spread the clay out on your plastic or canvas by patting it down with your hands.

3 Roll out the clay using a rolling pin. You want the clay to end up in the shape of a rough circle about 1/4 inch thick. It is important that the rolled-out clay be the same thickness all over.

4 Use a potter's trimming tool or a butter knife and a straight edge to cut a square shape out of your flattened clay. A square 7 inches on each side would make a good salad plate. If you want to make a circular plate, do not cut the clay yet, but make sure it is big enough to go over the edges of your mould plate. Keep any clay scraps for later to decorate the plate or make feet for it.

5 Place a piece of cheesecloth on your mould plate, large enough to cover the plate with some excess. Lay the slab of clay over your mould plate. If you are making a square plate, put the centre of your slab in the centre of the plate and tamp it down gently with your hands. (You can make a square plate using a round mould plate. Just make sure the corners of the square are entirely on the plate.) If you are making a circular plate, lay the slab with its centre at the centre of the plate and tamp it down with your hands. For a round plate, use a potter's trimming tool or a butter knife to trim the excess clay at the perimeter of the plate.

6 Leave the clay to dry until it is as hard as a stiff piece of leather. Drying will probably take about an hour.

7 Carefully lift the cheesecloth off the mould plate and gently pull it away from the slab to remove the slab from the mould plate.

8 Allow the plate to dry thoroughly. If you have used an air-dry clay, you are done. If not, fire the clay in the oven or in a kiln following the manufacturer's directions.

9 Your air-dried or oven-dried plate can be decorated with acrylic paint. Your kiln-fired plate can be glazed and refired. Only the kiln-fired plate will hold liquid; it is also the only one that should be used for serving food.

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