Tile Bathroom Caddy

Learn how to make this ceramic tile bathroom caddy constructed of handmade fish tiles.

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David McGee graduated with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, but loved his ceramics and sculpture courses the most. McGee grew up in Chicago but was drawn to Detroit because of the Pewabic Pottery Education Center where he now teaches. He creates large-scale custom made artistic tile projects typically with a nature theme involving animals and insects. Today he creates a ceramic box constructed of handmade fish tiles.

Materials and Tools:

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stoneware cone 6-9 clay
molding plaster
water
coddles (plaster fences) - used to create original molds
oil soap
bucket
scale
brushes
wood rasp
steel kidney
plaster pressing molds
rubber mats
mallet

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tools: wire, knife, plaster wedge, stamp, needle tool, misc. wood tools, brushes
4 hand pressed, leather hard, green ware tiles
clay slip
banding wheel
drill bit
110v studio kiln
ceramic glaze
wadding

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Steps:

1. Sculpt and create original tile pieces to be used as box sides.

2. Place original or proofs on a non-porous surface to mold.

3. Place the proof in the center of coddles or wood fence.

4. Secure the base and joints of coddles with scrap clay.

5. Cover the exposed floor and inner walls of coddles with a thin coating of oil soap.

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6. Measure out an adequate sized plaster water mix of 60/40 respectively.

7. Mix the plaster till ready to pour.

8. Pour plaster into the coddle void over the proof tile starting in one corner. When plaster fills up around the sides of the proof, pour across to the opposite corner filling the mold to about one inch above the highest point of the proof.

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9. Gently vibrate the mold to release dormant air bubbles.

10. When the mold is set, remove coddles, dig out proof and clean mold.

11. Allow the mold to dry for one week until the surface is no longer damp to the touch.

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12. When the molds are dry, wedge a piece of clay roughly the same dimension of the mold opening.

13. Using a potters knife smooth the surface of the clay (that will be face down) into the mold.

14. Gently pound the clay into the mold with a hammer.

15. When the plaster mold has absorbed an adequate amount of water from the clay the tile will shrink and release from the mold. Repeat for all remaining parts.

16. Roll out a slab of clay for the bottom and feet of the box.

17. When the pieces have dried to a leather hard constancy miter and trim all eight corners to fit.

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18. Rough up each corner and apply clay slip and join together. Repeat for all four corners.

19. Clean and smooth all edges and place box on top of slab rolled earlier (step 15) and trace an opening on the slab with a needle tool.

20. Cut out the floor of the box and rough up the entire edge.

21. Stamp the bottom of the box with desired identification marks before assembling.

22. Rough up the bottom inside edge of the box. Cover with slip and set down over the floor of the box. Clean and smooth the inside seam and flip over onto a newspaper covered banding wheel.

23. Blend and smooth the outer seam of the floor.

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24. Using a drill bit, drill two holes, by hand, into the floor while the box is upside down.

25. From the remaining scrap (left over from cutting out the floor) cut out four 1" x 1" pieces for the feet.

26. Score and slip the feet into place.

27. Flip the box back over and clean the top edge/lip.

28. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to dry slowly.

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29. When bone dry bisque-fire to witness cone 06.

30. When finished bisque firing, sand any rough edges and rinse bisque ware.

31. Apply glaze to piece by dipping box in the bucket of glaze.

32. Allow glaze to dry (five minutes) and place wadding to the bottom of each foot.

33. Fire ceramic box to witness cone 6.

34. Unload finish piece from kiln and inspect for flaws and fix if necessary.

Website: www.pewabic.org

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