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Published Mar 1, 2023

slabplatter620Slab building is one of the most exciting ways to make work with clay. And if you prefer more instant gratification than you can get from a wheel, slab building is a great way to go.

Finding slump and hump molds in interesting shapes at thrift shops and dollar stores is a great way to build with slabs. In this post, an excerpt from Daryl Baird's popular book From a Slab of Clay, Daryl shares a simple platter project from a found slump mold. - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

Step 1. Roll out a slab of clay on construction paper just under ½ inch thick. Spray water on the surface and smooth it.

Traditionally, platters have been made by laying a large slab of clay into a large, shallow mold and trimming the edge in the same way the excess dough is trimmed from the crust of a pie. This demonstration presents an alternative approach—the slab is trimmed and its edge finished before it’s placed in the mold, and all of the decorating is done while the slab lays flat on the table.

Tools & Materials

Paint edge trimmer construction paper shallow plastic platter water-filled spray bottle small knife needle tool dry cleaning bag (see image 2) paint stir sticks (see image 4), ballast bag, popsicle stick with shaped end.



2 Place the platter form upside down on the slab and use a needle tool to cut out the shape from the slab. 3 Lightly drape a dry cleaning bag over the trimmed slab and carefully place the right-side up platter on the plastic, guided by your fingers. 4 Once you have the correct alignment, press the platter evenly on all sides to imprint the tray’s oval foot in the clay.

5 The area between the foot imprint and the edge of the slab defines the area to decorate. Lay plastic on the clay before pressing stamps. 6 Smooth the rim with your fingers then with tapered tip of a Popsicle stick. Lay a piece of plastic in the platter form. 7 Lift the decorated slab with a pair of paint stirring sticks in each hand and transfer it to the plastic-covered tray and carefully align it.

8 Cover the slab with another dry cleaning bag and use a ballast bag to form the slab to the platter mold. 9 With plastic in place, smooth rim with thumb and forefinger using a little downward pressure to seat the edge in the mold. Dry slowly. 10 Coat kiln shelf with a little alumina hydrate or silica to reduce the risk of cracking. Leave 2 inches of space above to assure even heating.

**First published in 2015.