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Throw Successful Plates

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Prepare to Throw Your Plate
Three plates thrown on the potter's wheel.

Three plates thrown on the potter's wheel. The foremost was made by J.R. Lafferty, the two behind made by Beth Peterson.

Photo © 2009 Beth E Peterson

From a beginner's or non-potter's point of view, plates can seem to be one of the easier forms to make. The reality is a bit different. Because they have such a large floor, especially in relation to the plate's rim, S-cracks are a strong possibility. Throwing plates is a good way to test your potting skills.

Each plate will take about one to two pounds of clay, although you may want to throw using slightly more. This excess clay will allow you to keep a thick floor, which in turn allows you to trim out a foot ring when the plate is leather hard. Tools you will probably want include a potter's needle, piece of chamois, sponge, wooden trimming tool, a rubber or wooden rib, and a large loop tool.

If you are making plates that could at all possibly be used with food (even if your thought is for it to be only decorative), be certain that you are using a mid-range or high-firing clay and glazes, and that your glazes are both food safe and have a gloss surface. If you are throwing sets, make sure you have enough clay and glazes on hand to complete the number of plates desired.

Get ready to throw: check your fingernails, gather your tools, and set up your water and slop buckets. Thoroughly wedge your clay. If throwing multiples, it is to your advantage to wedge all your clay before sitting down to the wheel.

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