plates, experimenting

One reason I periodically take on a 52 project (like with 2013's pitchers, this year's plates) is not only to develop my skills within a particular form, but perhaps more importantly to this recovering perfectionist, to have the freedom to experiment with surface design techniques, sometimes things that scare me, without risking my salable inventory.  I worked with more glass last week into this week, following up on plate 8 with another dessert-sized plate and a large platter that I was afraid had cracked but happily didn't.  It needs more work, to be sure, but it's not cracked.

This week's plate went through a few firings.  Its first iteration was a lot more, well, blobby, than my first little plate with tiny sea glass chips.  I found a bag of large pieces of blue sea glass in the studio that I'd purchased years and years ago and decided to risk those rather than my sentimental glass.

The glass did not melt down very flat, and I wasn't happy with the piece except that I absolutely loved how the cobalt inlay spread around underneath the glass.  A basement canning jar disaster provided more broken pieces of aqua antique ball jars (oh, sob) to which I added small pieces over the bird inlay and popped back in the kiln.

The crackle of the glass over the lines of the drawing and flowy nature of the cobalt are interesting to me, but the pieces of glass were still too large to melt down and are very bumpy still.  I think that the only way to salvage this plate would be to cover most of the surface with small clear pieces of glass and refire it.  Interesting, but not quite there.

The platter similarly needs more work.  Because I thought it was cracked, I was willing to take lots of risks with this piece.  I dry brushed cobalt over the inlay on one end, used regular mishima inlay on the other end.  On the brushed end, I put several pieces of broken canning jar over the incised drawings and sprinkled some of the fine glass grit over the rest of it, hoping that it would melt in.  No such luck.  The grit is still gritty and the glass melt didn't thin out like I'd hoped it would.  I really do like the magnifying-glass effect of the melted glass, but the only way to "save" this piece might be to fill it with glass and refire it, or grind down (with safety glasses and a mask!) the really gritty bits and then refire.  I've used this dry brushing over inlay before and I quite like how it turns out (I rub the dry but dirty chip brush I use for coating faux bois pieces over bone dry pieces I've drawn into with the needle tool, cover it so as not to disturb any of the cobalt particles, then bisque, then rinse off the residual cobalt while trying not to contaminate everything else in the studio), especially with very precise and vintage-inspired drawings.

I have one more glass idea to try, but as interesting as this is, I don't feel that it's really me.  I'd love to see other people's take on using glass in their ceramics, but I may be finished until I have a larger stash of tiny sea gems that I don't mind playing with (maybe this could finance a coastal vacation?  hmm. . . .)

Plate ten is another piece that wasn't technically successful but I learned a great deal from.  I've played with this umbel floral pattern quite a lot this winter and wanted to use it on a plate.  This slab-built plate was a little wonky, and I thought that the all-over pattern might disguise that.  This plate is a little too crowded- I made another as part of someone's order and thought to mark pencil lines to keep the little fennel flowers separate and give them some breathing room, and I liked it so much better.  I also liked it as a border, which I did on this small platter, below:

I've been making a lot of dessert-sized plates for orders over the past several weeks and have a few, still damp, stockpiled for the coming weeks plate project plates.  So far, it's been fun to experiment and I'm looking forward to working on larger plates this spring and summer.

Next week is a milestone birthday for me, and then by boy and I are off to a friend's farm for spring break.  I'm taking my work sketchbook, my camera, and my watercolors, and I'll look forward to chatting with you again when we return.