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teens and clay / square plates

updated sat 8 apr 06


Dan Dermer on thu 6 apr 06

Hi Carole,
Here's a project that works well in a high school setting -- pretty easy to
complete in an hour for most kids. Have them make slab plates that are
decorated with stamps (that you bring), or free hand sgraffito, etc. I
usually demonstrate square plates with a simple stamp pattern, but encourage
the kids to choose their own shape (triangle, trapezoid, whatever), and
decorate as they like.

I've done this twice at a local high school when I was asked to present on
life as a potter, for their "Career Day". Since kids don't want to spend
the whole hour listening to me yammer on, I talk for 10 min., show some of
my own work, then move right on to the project.

Best of all, the plates don't need covering in plastic or special drying
conditions when finished. Transfer them, on the same newspaper, to a drying
area and they'll be ready in a few days for bisque firing.

It works well, and it takes a minimum of tools. See list below and link to
the Clayart archive page on how to make them.


What to bring:

- slabs, rolled to 1/4" thickness, approx 12"x12" square (or any size,
- rulers, straight edges, etc. for raising sides
- sponges, ribs for smoothing sides and edges
- stamps for patterning
- boards, newspaper, etc.
- coils of clay, to support raised edges on each side of dish

You can even have the kids roll their own slabs and make their
own coils if there's time, space, and slab-roller available.

Check out the following archive page on how to make them: **

** scroll down to Lee Love's post on making square plates

The coils keep the plate edges from falling/slumping during drying, and slow
the drying of edges relative to the flat middle. Also, the newspaper
underneath helps wick moisture evenly from the form. I don't use any
weights in the center during drying -- just have them use a rib or sponge to
compress the plate in all directions (back side and front side) before
lifting the edges. All in all, a great technique!! Thanks, Lee!