How to Make a Typography-Inspired Ceramic Platter

Make a decorative ceramic platter from clay, a clay-pressing plate and lots of hand-painted glaze letters.

Materials and Tools:



wire clay cutting tool
slab roller
rubber kidney
various clay knives
plaster mold
circular copper piece*
clay-pressing plate with different border designs
small roller
clay slip
small nut pick
broom straw
bowl of water
paint palette
under glazes
plastic wrap

*Found object, something similar can be substituted


1. Prepare the slab roller by arranging the canvas and adjusting the depth to determine the thickness of the clay.

2. Slice the clay from the clay loaf with a wire cutter and arrange it between the two layers of canvas. Using a mallet, pound it flat enough to be accepted by the rollers.

3. Roll the clay through the slab roller.

4. Smooth the clay using the rubber kidney.

5. Cut a rectangle of clay large enough to fit the plaster mold

6. Place the clay on top of the plaster mold and press into place. Smooth the clay into the mold with a wet sponge.

7. Trim excess clay with a knife to create the edge of the platter.

8. Cut strips of clay and press them into the desired border design on a clay pressing plate. After pressing the clay onto the design with your fingers, use a small roller to roll the clay into the plate. Remove the strip from the clay pressing plate, trim the edges and press it onto the interior edge of the platter using clay slip.

9. Create impressions around the edge of the platter with a circular copper piece. This makes the relief circle within a circle border.

10. Cut the edges of the platter following the contour of the circles. Use fingers to shape and smooth an even thickness on the edge.

11. Allow the clay to dry in the mold until it holds its shape.

12. Remove the clay from the plaster mold. Clean the edges and other imperfections.

13. Find the center of the platter and attach two small clay balls on the back of the plate. Evenly space the clay balls from the center. These will be used as a wall hanger.

14. Create a hole in each clay ball with a nut pick or other small, thin tool. (Later, you'll insert wire to create the hanging hook.)

15. Clean up the area with a paintbrush and then insert broom straw to keep the holes open.

16. Cover the platter with plastic and allow to dry.

17. Determine the color palette. For this platter, paint the inside area with canary yellow, then paint a variety of colors on the border.

18. Use a ruler and pencil to make a grid pattern on the flat, inside of the platter. This will offer a structure for the colored squares and other details.

19. Paint squares using palette colors.

20. Paint letters and symbols using a brown glaze.

21. Paint the remaining diamond border.

22. Bisque-fire in a kiln at cone 04.

23. Once the clay platter is bisque-fired and stable, apply a series of under glazes and glaze washes. Water down the glazes to create an aged surface.

24. Wipe the surface gently with a sponge, allowing color to catch in the relief areas.

25. Sign and date the ceramic letter platter on the back.

26. Clear-glaze the entire piece (both the back and front) with two coats.

27. Fire in kiln to cone 05 on stilts.

28. Allow kiln to cool completely.

29. Remove platter from the kiln and sand stilt marks if necessary.

30. Attach a brass wire, making wire spirals on each end to secure.

Laurie Eisenhardt, Royal Oak, Mich.

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