Saturday, September 29, 2012

Goodwill Find

When I am throwing enough pottery to fill the kiln on the schedule I need to keep, I sometimes find myself nursing a repetitive stress injury. It's a quandary, because - obviously - I have to stop throwing long enough for my wrist to heal. Answer? Why, handbuilding, of course!

Using an existing piece, glass or metal, as a mold has never been my favorite way to work. It seems too...what?...derivative, I suppose. So often all of the details are just impressions of a surface some other designer created. Why should somebody else have all the fun? When I found this silverplate oval platter with no texture or detail at Augusta's new Goodwill store, I saw a solution to both my problems. Because it is a featureless piece, I can go to town on it.

I made a texture roller using a fat piece of dowel from Home Depot, and a hot glue gun. Advice: if you are purchasing a hot glue gun for this project, get the more expensive one. I got the little $2.99 special, and found that it squirted out so little glue at a time that keeping a steady line was impossible.
Still, I managed a spiral design. I stretched out a slab, about 1/4 inch thick - I hate a flimsy feel to my pottery. Then I rolled the decorative roller over it, in several directions, so the rough quality of the drawing became a non-issue.

Then I slathered the mold with Murphy's Oil Soap, as a release agent. Clay will stick to anything nonporous, so don't skip this step. I placed the slab texture side up inside the mold. This particular shape would also work as a hump mold - turning it upside down and laying the slab over the exterior. (That's the next one!)I used to fettling knife to cut a more interesting rim.
Then I picked up the mold, slab and all, and dropped it from a few inches above the tabletop, 3 or 4 times.After that, I used my thumbnail to dig a ridge all around the edge, for a double-rime appearance, and attached textured handles.
Last, I trailed slip in a design loosely mimicking the pattern left by the roller. VoilĂ ! A molded platter that retains sometihing of my aesthetic.

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