Sunday, February 14, 2010

small swirl plates

For the past few months I have been working on a new shape of plate. A small plate that can be used for a salad or dessert. I was motivated by a client who liked the swirl plates, but requested a set of eight slightly smaller and the swirl in a variety of bright colors. A good challenge, making a new plate shape from scratch is time-consuming.

First step is to pour a block of plaster, and carve it to the shape I want. I use stainless steel sheeting due to its bend-ability. It works well to create round shapes.

After the original is carved, I make a set of casting molds, or negatives of the original shape. Before I can start pouring in the porcelain, the molds have to dry, which takes a few weeks.

When the porcelain is poured, the sides are always a mess and need cleaning. I don’t mind this step as it gives me the opportunity to create a variety of edges, making each plate unique.

The cast porcelain takes a few days to dry out before it can be fired for the first time.

The swirl is painted on during the "green" stage, when the plate is dry, but not yet fired. The color appears dull at this phase, but that will change in the firings: a bisque followed by a high-fire glaze.

In the glaze firing, the porcelain turns white, and the swirls brighten to their true color. I’m happy the way this particular clear glaze retains the color’s juiciness and makes it look like watercolor.

The final plates are a handy 7" in diameter, perfect for a slice of cake or cookies. Click here for ordering information.