Sunday, October 18, 2015

Leaf Serving Pieces I: Spoon Rest

Silver Maple Spoon Rest
It's been almost a year-and-a-half since my last post. My apologies for my long-term absence; it's been a tough time but I'm starting to get back to my normal. So, I thought I'd just plunge back in and start with a blog post. Finally.

Northern Catalpa Spoon Rest
I've been working on a series of pieces for a wholesale website and, in the process, returning to some (very) old designs as well as taking some more recent ones to a new level. I've been developing a collection of serving pieces based on my Applied Leaf Bowls and, in that context, revisiting some pieces I had stopped producing, having realized they worked well with my new direction.

Eastern Redbud Spoon Rest
Common Witch-hazel Spoon Rest
The spoon rests are one of my earliest leaf pieces, inspired by my friend Rebecca who asked for something she could use on her stovetop. I had been using leaves fired with a stain to bring up the texture of the veins but she wanted something with some glaze and a more consistent shape. I came up with a pie-piece (actually, about 120 degrees, or a third of a circle) that I formed it into one of my small bowl molds, embossed a leaf into it and added a small clay branch. The key is to make sure any canvas texture is smoothed away from the surface before embossing the leaf; emboss the leaf with a smooth stone rather than a sponge, which would pull clay away from the surface and not push the leaf into the clay surface consistently.
Eastern Cottonwood Spoon Rest

After drying, the piece is cleaned up (synthetic steel wool is great for this; I save the accumulated clay dust and recycle it with the rest of my waste clay) and bisque fired to Cone 04 or 06.

White Oak Spoon Rest
Glazing follows the same process I use for all of my leaf and branch pieces. I use burnt umber solution to stain the branch, pulling the excess away with a damp sponge. Then I stain the leaf (I have a "key" I've developed that tells me which stain and glaze combination is used with a given type of leaf) and, again, pull the excess away with a damp sponge to bring up the leaf's veins. Both surfaces are treated with wax resist and, after curing for several hours, dipped in the appropriate glaze. I fire on stilts to Cone 6 with a 40-minute hold.

Although designed as spoon rests, they also work as soap dishes, change stashes, jewelry dishes, tea-bag rests and candle holders. All are food safe and can go in the dishwasher.

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