New process for a new dinner plate line!

I’ve never offered dinner plates regularly before because as any potter will tell you, they’re a bear. You need a lot of clay for each one, then you have to trim a lot off of the bottom after you throw them, and then they need to dry very slowly to avoid warping or cracking. Other potters I’ve talked to say they break even on plates, and there’s always a lot of seconds. Also, unlike a mug, which doesn’t bother me if they’re 1/4″ different in height, I think for function’s sake it’s important to have plates be relatively consistent, so they stack well in your cupboard.
For this reason I decided to try out RAM pressing for my dinner plate line! A RAM press is a hydraulic press that uses 60 tons of pressure to press soft clay into a mold. Several months ago I made a bunch of plate samples on the wheel and sent them to a ceramic manufacturer in California. He made a steel mold of my best plate, and sent me back a sample from the press. There was a bit of back and forth to tweak them to be exactly as I wanted, but once we got it down, he produced several hundred plates in just 3 days on the press. Then he bisqued them (fired them to a low temperature so they’re ready to be glazed) and then packed them up on a pallet to me. Now I have blank canvases, white stoneware plates ready to be glazed.
I spent all summer experimenting with glaze chemistry and testing out palettes. All the plates will be glazed to order in my studio. It’s my first time ever working with a manufacturer outside my own studio, but I’m excited to learn how to grow my small business in a way that feels natural to me. A great benefit of making my plate line this way, besides consistency, is that they will be priced significantly lower than if I threw them on the wheel.
As for the colors, I was very much inspired by growing up with mismatched Fiestaware dinner plates and setting the table being aware of which of the four of us got which color, and when we had more people over, not repeating colors next to each other. So the set of four mismatched plates is what I’m most excited about. Then I have the Artist’s series plates, which was one of the very first colorways I ever offered when I first started selling my work almost four years ago. I also of course wanted to include my Ocean colorway, one of my favorite surface designs. And last but not least, I found a matte cobalt glaze that I had to include!
To check out the whole finished collection click  HERE.
And here’s some photos and video of the process it took to get the plates to me:

The day my pallet of bisqued plates arrived! It took me, my amazing assistant, and four very kind friends to get all the boxes up the stairs. Yup, the stairs. My studio has no elevator 🙂

Here's a photo the manufacturer sent me of all my plates drying slowly before being bisque fired.

Here’s a photo the manufacturer sent me of all my plates drying slowly before being bisque fired.

 

After being loaded into the press one by one, once they’ve dried somewhat they’re smoothed by hand with a sponge.

And below, a couple of the finished plates from the Artist’s series:

artistsplatemonochrome artistsplaterainbow