Irregular in Shape Plate

I’ve made quite a few plates in my time. I use a handbuilding technique where I take an existing plate and use it as a form for my own plate.

What you do is grab some newspaper, tear it into strips, and lay it on the plate form (eating side is up, as it would be in use). Spray it to wet the paper. Then lay your slab of clay on to the plate and trim it a bit. Smooth the edges.

You can decorate the clay when it is wet, you can wait until it is greenware dry, or you can bisque fire the new plate and then decorate it. In this case I used stenciling with underglazes and scratching into the clay while the clay was still wet.

Why do you need the strips of paper? So that when the clay dries, and shrinks as it does so, it will not pull itself apart and crack trying to release itself from where it has stuck on to the plate form.

You peel the paper strips off if you like, from the bottom of the new plate, before it is fired, but you don’t have to – they will just burn off in the kiln.

After the new plate was bisque fired, I then dipped it into clear glaze and fired it again. Now, anything that a person might use for food needs to have a glaze. In the case of this plate, I would say a person could utilize it for bread or unpeeled fruit or the like. And don’t put it in the dishwasher or microwave.

But it won’t hold up to heavy use – it is earthenware, or low-fire, clay that I have used here. If you want to eat off a plate as a regular dish, you need to use stoneware clay and fire to a higher temperature to get a good vitrified surface.

Anyway, here is the plate. You may see that when I trimmed the plate as described above, my hand did its usual thing and went wild of the mark. Therefore this place is out of round. Oh well. We all have our quirks.

Clay plate 11-19 stencil view 13

November 2019. Low-fire clay, Velvet underglazes, clear glaze, fired at cone 06.

And some closer views of the decor.


14 thoughts on “Irregular in Shape Plate

  1. agnesashe

    That’s really interesting, particularly about the use of the paper. I love the finished result, colourful, but in a muted way.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Like so many things, doing clay work involves many steps and seems complicated if you think of the whole process, but each step is logical and has a reason. I really enjoy learning a process and working through the steps. As for the paper, you could also use plastic (like dry cleaners use) but, you must remove all of it before you fire, it’s not good for the kiln or the piece. And I can tell you from personal experience if you forget this step…you will come to your work one day and see it is dry, but cracked!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thanks. I like how it came out but I do wish I could sometimes be a little less…irregular. This time it worked out, though, I think the style fits the shape.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I like writing about the processes in things I do (maybe in too much detail sometimes). I think this is because I really enjoy reading the same kind of thing, even if I have no plan to try it myself. I find knowing how things are made or done, just fascinating,

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    I absolutely love this quirky plate. You know I like wonky things so the imperfect shape actually appeals to me – and isn’t that the joy of handmade things anyway? – and I love the colours and mark-making you’ve used. It makes me think of a beach on some other planet.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I like how this one turned out, but I was annoyed with myself for my hand slipping, because I had done just that one last bit of trimming…that it really probably didn’t need…and then, oops…

  3. tierneycreates

    I remember during by brief foray into pottery/ceramics when I did a Raku pottery class and we did something with newspaper on the clay and then removed it. Do not remember the details but it sounds like a cool technique you used on this piece – maybe similar or perhaps I am just confused – ha! But wonderful piece!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Sometimes I use newspaper on the clay as a stencil, and other times, I use it in the way I did here, to make sure it doesn’t stick to the form and CRACK, the ultimate disappointment and so easy to avoid…

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