How are the dishes are made

by Prue Cooper

All the dishes in this exhibition are made in moulds, not thrown on a wheel; I like the softness of the result, and making my own plaster moulds means I can make a variety of different shapes with relative ease. The clay is rolled out on a sort of mangle, and the slab dropped into the mould; just like making a jam tart.

I use earthenware clay, and decorate with slip – that is clay which is sloppy enough to brush, or trail from a rubber bulb. Earthenware clay is very straightforward. The base colour is brushed on, the inscriptions are trailed (quite fast), and the images are transferred from drawings cut out of newspaper . Slip is brushed onto the cutouts, the internal lines are drawn with a porcupine quill, and the cutout transferred to the damp clay of the dish. Images of Landmark buildings for this exhibition have to be carefully sequenced, with a separate layer for each colour. After a first “biscuit” firing, the dishes are glazed and fired again. 

The clay is rolled out on a “slab-roller”, which is like a mangle. The slab is dropped into a plaster mould, trimmed, and brushed with slip – slip is clay that is liquid, the consistency of cream. It can be poured, but I prefer brushing .

The lettering is done next, using a rubber bulb made for administering enemas to babies – just the thing. I write freehand, after thinking a bit about spacing.