Make a Clay Fish Platter

Transform terra cotta clay into a decorative serving dish painted with a fishy design.

Potter John Taylor from Renton, Wash., demonstrates how to create a fish-inspired clay platter centerpiece.

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Materials and Tools:

terra cotta clay
pugmill
slab roller
oval mold
rubber ribs
fettling knife
black underglaze
glaze
paintbrushes
foam dauber
kiln
iron oxide bath
pencil
white slip
Surform plane

Steps:

1. Run clay through the pugmill to eliminate air bubbles. Use the slab roller to press out clay to desired thickness.

2. Carefully lift clay and place into oval mold. Use rubber ribs to smooth out the edges of the clay and press the clay into the mold. Use fettling knife to remove excess clay, trimming like a pie crust.

3. Make a snake of clay and trim to desired length. Attach into place on the underside lip of the platter. This will become a hanging mechanism.

4. Allow clay to dry for a day to leather-hard stage. Then, use a Surform plane to clean up all edges, like grating hard cheese.

5. Allow pieces to reach the bone-dry stage when almost all moisture is gone.

6. Brush on white slip. Bisque-fire the clay to harden the pieces. The slip will show crackle.

7. Dip into an iron bath of iron oxide and water. Wash the piece in the bath and then rinse off. This will leave an uneven coat of iron on the piece.

8. To paint the tray: Outline the fish head, body and fins in pencil. Paint pencil lines with black commercial undercoating. Add decorative waves and "netting" cross-hatches for additional interest. Use a dauber to create polka dots.

9. Dip piece into glaze, leaving the bottom unglazed. Place into kiln for final firing.

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