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A Few Leaves, Foam, and a Slab

August 27, 2011

This week’s clay project consists of some maple leaves, rolled out slabs of clay, and a foam pillow. My mother in law’s desire for a dish to place her candles in without the wind blowing them out was the inspiration for this project. The secret for these dishes is a large foam pillow and a wooden square mold; a trick learned from fellow Craft Guild members.

The first step was rolling out a slab of clay which can be done with a rolling pin, but lucky for me the Craft Guild has a nifty press that squishes the clay out evenly. Adding more or less mats changes the thickness of the clay. A quarter inch thick is best because too thin and the sides will slump over or too thick and the piece will be too heavy.

After I made four slabs I transferred them with boards to the table where I can carefully cut out squares. Along with the mentality of my teacher James, why make 1 when you can make 12, I made eight slabs. This is helpful just in case some pieces are lost in the process.

Next I grabbed a stool and went outside to borrow some leaves from the trees outside. I have not tried pressing flowers or other plants, but in theory any plant or even stamps are useful for decorating the slabs. Using a rolling pin you can lightly press the leaves into the clay, but be careful not to press too hard and disturb the nice square shape of the slab.

The next step is a bit trickier and where one of my slabs was lost. In order to create the dish shape, place the slab on a large foam pillow and carefully place the square mold in the center. Then press the mold into the pillow making the sides of the slab buckle and the inside take on the shape of the mold. But be careful that the slabs are not too moist because they will not hold the form. This was how my first slab was lost, as it did not hold the shape and then began to crack. To aid in the drying process I placed a fan over the pieces and waited a few minutes. When the slabs were firm, but still flexible I was then able to press them into shape.

The last step is one of my favorite accents, another trick learned from Mr. James. Grabbing some extra moist porcelain clay and whipping it smooth with a mixer, I painted it carefully in the center of the piece. Since this red clay remains red when it is fired painting the white slip over the leaves creates a nice contrast between the red outline of the leaves and the white slip. Now I will wait for them to dry so that they can be bisque fired. I will post pictures of the glazed and fired pieces in a few weeks when they are finished!

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From → Pottery Projects

2 Comments
  1. Holey Moley! This is such a great blog! I had no idea how talented you were! Look at those tea pots! The leaf project we did in elementary school and I used rosemary leaves…I dont recommend them. There are more shapely leaves to choose from. I think my mom still has my heart-shaped shallow dish that she stores here sewing pins in. Keep blogging!

  2. Bonnie permalink

    So cool to get to see your process!! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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