Brice Dyer’s family has always valued special occasions—using the fancy china and candles for those special dinners. The idea of using certain objects for only deserving occasions, combined with his love of rock climbing were the source of inspiration for his ceramic shot glasses and tray.
In today’s post, Brice shares how he uses coil building techniques as well as press molds to create his unique shot set. I love how he took a traditional idea and really put his own spin on it! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
P.S. Check out the entire article in the January/February 2016 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated to learn how Brice Dyer constructs the layered tray for his shot cup set and for information on his glazing and finishing processes.
Celebrating special occasions is something my family has always valued. During these times my mother would set the table with a fancy tablecloth, candles, and most notably, one of the many sets of specialty china reserved for an extravagant dinner. It’s this idea of using objects only for deserving occasions—as well as my interest in rock climbing—that has influenced my layered-clay shot set. Although very different than a set of special holiday dinnerware, the layered shot set is intended to be used when people are gathered together and enjoyed with company.
Shot Glass Prep
When setting out to make a layered shot set, I begin with the shot glasses. The first step is to roll out coils of each type of clay body (I use five commercial clay bodies including: Aardvark Terra Red, Flint Hills Black, Aardvark Cassius Basaltic, and Laguna Electric Brown) (1). When rolling out the coils, make them different thicknesses to ensure variation in the finished cups. Next, roll out a thin slab and roll in a few coils and patches of other clay bodies to varigate the slab’s surface. Taking a circle cutter that matches the diameter of the inside of my press mold, I cut out several circles from the slab (2) and set them with the coils. These will become the bottoms of the shot cups.
Press Molding the Shot Cups
Starting with a plaster mold made of a short, wide cylinder, take one of the circle slabs and place it in the bottom of the mold. Next, use your fingertips to compress the slab down, working from the center all the way around to the outside where the clay meets the wall of the mold.
Two things I consider when pressing the coils to form the wall of the shot cup: one is to ensure that the walls are a uniform thickness; second, I want to make the cups sturdy so they can stand up to the abuse that shot glasses sometimes endure. The composition of the coils is also very important, from size of coil, type of clay, to the direction that they are placed in the mold. It’s nice to have both horizontal and vertical lines to give the cup variation. Working the coils together with your thumb inside of the cup from bottom to top as you go creates a smooth interior. Once the clay walls reach the top of the mold place one final coil around the top of the glass to create the rim (4). This is the first thing your eyes see and your lips touch, so having a smooth, consistent rim is very important. Once this is completed it should only take a few minutes until the shot glass is ready to pop out of the mold (4). Repeat this step four times for four cups. You may need to wait for the mold to dry in between pressings depending on the the thickness of the mold and how wet the clay is.
**First published in 2016.