Back in August, a good friend of ours, Blue Bell (her Instagram account is https://www.instagram.com/non0scripta), visited and gave us a few demos in the pottery studio. One thing she did was demonstrate her technique for throwing large plates on the wheel, which she did with her usual ease and aplomb. Once she’d completed, I (this is Peter writing this article on behalf of Gloria) jokingly said to her that it would be nice if it had a rabbit on it. I was both surprised and not that she quickly grabbed a tool and began to scratch in the design of a rabbit. Then I said that it’s a bit like Alice in Wonderland and she added a hat on the rabbit. It was a lot of fun. After Blue left, Gloria took over and completed the sgraffito and applied all the layers of coloured slips. The final result is this absolutely beautiful rabbit plate that we keep in a special place in our home. (See below for some photos of how the plate progressed)
Below are some images that show the process this plate went through.
This is plate shortly after throwing and just after Blue had scratched in the design of the rabbit with the hat and some other decorative features. At this point the clay is still quite wet and needs to be allowed to dry out significantly more. Notice that terracotta clay was used.
Here’s the plate now part way through Gloria’s work. She’s added a pocket-watch inspired by Alice in Wonderland, added more sgraffito and has layered up a number of coloured slips.
The sgraffito is quite important with terracotta clay as it allows the warmth of the brown clay to start showing through the coloured slips in the final piece.
Now the rabbit plate has all of the sgraffito done and slips applied. Now it’s just a matter of leaving it to fully dry out and then it can be fired in the kiln for the bisque fire.
This is exactly the same plate but now after the bisque firing. It’s interesting how the colours change, but we also have to be aware that the colours will change again after the glaze firing. The next step is to dip the plate in glaze, giving it a good coating, and then putting it back in the kiln for the glaze firing (this goes to a higher temperature than the bisque firing).
Really, glaze is a type of glass coating that covers a pottery piece. It’s a very important step to have a food safe and usable ceramic piece.