Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ceramic Sentiments II: Dinnerware

As much as I love classic pure white dinnerware, but with squared sides and rounded edges, I did not feel like working with porcelain or a slab roller when making my own while in school. Plus, since I've never been in the perfect financial position to purchase the dishes I truly want,
I've continued to use my own over they years. I do love my dishes, but I find myself critiquing them fairly often. I would use the celadon green differently on the center of the plates by making a stronger linear design--not rely on gravity to pull the glaze in interesting directions. (This works on some objects, not on others.) I would make my bowl rims stronger. Rims are a weak point for me in my throwing. I spent years trying to make them thinner and then I was suddenly told I needed to make them thicker! But it's true, for bowls or other vessels that will experience wear (How many times do you clink your spoon against your bowl when eating cereal?) you need a rim that can withstand the use. I also wish I had a foot rim on the bowls, but you can't tell from the photo, so why should I worry?

Enough about what I don't like about my dinnerware, because these are just the first few photos of my whole set. This is a salad/dessert plate and a general soup/salad/cereal/if-you-can't-eat-it-out-of-a-bowl-it's-not-worth-eating bowl. The glaze is an earthy Alfred Yellow, chosen because everyone chooses blue (or something in the blue family) or celadon green for their dinnerware and I wanted mine to be different. I like not having blue dishes; these are warm and comforting, much like food. The rim accent is actually a black glaze, but chosen because the interaction with the chemicals in the yellow pulls out the iron, so it fires red. (One day I'll give the "grand feu" explanation about the 5 high-fire colors and why dishes tend to be blue.) The weird blobs in the center of the plate and along the sides of the bowl are celadon green, but look black in their post-fired state. Although, in the right light (but not these pictures) you can see a hint of green that contrasts nicely with the red and yellow, bringing a little cool color spectrum to the warm colors. I wanted to see more flow in the lines of the green, but sometimes your plans and the kiln's plans don't match up. Even so, I love the rims of the plate. I might not like my bowl rims, but I am a champion plate thrower. Plates are easy to throw, but have a huge wastage rate because it is difficult to get the entire play to dry evenly without warping. Even so, these turned out very nice with very little warpage. These were fired to Cone 10 in a gas kiln, leaving the plates to the mercy of the drafts and chemical reactions of the reduction atmosphere (also to be explained later). I was lucky (or just good at knowing how the kiln fired) as I didn't lose any pieces of my dinnerware to the kiln!

Don't worry, there is plenty more dinnerware to come, so don't be disappointed. We've got plates, tumblers, coffee mugs, and the pitcher that started it all yet to cover. And if you're looking at this thinking you would like me to make your dinnerware, I would love to make it for you! I just like to be paid in advance.

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