Fern Plates and Platers

June 04, 2022

Before we left Chaumont last weekend I went on a nature walk and collected various leaves and flowers. The ferns that I brought home were already starting to wilt on the second day (my fault for not treating them better) so I started with those first.
When I bring back leaves and flowers from Chaumont (or other faraway places), I usually use the gallong zip lock bags. I carefully place them in flat and put them into the cooler to come home then the refrigerator at home. This time becuase I wasn't thinking straight I just left it all in a plastic shopping bag and just put that right into the fridge.
The ferns that I found were mostly large so I knew I'd be making larger platters and plates. I rolled out a bunch of slabs and got to work. fern plates and platters

You can see the marks where I lightly marked the edges of the GR Pottery form that I was going to use for this platter.

fern plates and platters

Sometimes I use just one frond (is that the right word?) of the fern and other times I'll use several. Occassionally I'll use a pair of tweezers to get the leaves to lay flat. I don't have to do this with most leaves, but ferns can be tricky.

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Once I have the whole thing mapped out I will go over it well with my rolling pin to get a really nice impression and then I'll cut out the form.

fern plates and platters

I have been wanting to make more plates like one of my favorites from last year for a while, but didn't have the ferns to do it. While wet I paint on a mixture of 50/50 gerstley borate and red iron oxide that has is about the consistency of cream. I let it dry until the sheen is gone before putting the form on and flipping it over and adding a foot.

fern plates and platters

I leave it on the form overnight and then flip it out.

fern plates and platters

Then I very carefully find the end of the fern and start to pull up. If I hadn't put the slip on then I could have left the leaf on for the bisque firing where it would burn away. But I painted the slip over the whole piece - including over the leaf. If I left the leaf on then it wouldn't leave a clean spot where the leaf is.

fern plates and platters

It doesn't look too pretty right now, but after the glaze firing with some Oribe on top it will look amazing.

fern plates and platters

I decided that this rounded tray needed handles. The handles were done with a sprig and then just slipped and scored on. The white dust is cornstarch. I wanted to test the theory if I added some would I get less slip on my forms. The answer is no. It didn't hurt anything, but it also didn't help. I'm wondering if at some point I'm going to need separate forms for dark clay and slips vs my bmix. We'll see next time I use them on bmix if the red rubs off, no more comes off on the sponge.

fern plates and platters

What was interesting is that the slip acts as sort of a preserver for the leaves. I was able to use them a second time and make some smaller things like these spoon rests.

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