How to Make a Freeform Handbuilt Serving Tray with a Faux Foot

Unconventional methods to make trays and platters with faux feet!

handbuilt serving tray

Gail Kendall has a fantastic ability to manipulate clay that seems too soft to form with. Time and time again during the filming of her video From Plate to Tureen: Slab and Coil Building, I thought to myself “there’s no way that is going to work!” But time and time again, Gail pulled off what I thought was impossible!

In today’s video, Gail demonstrates the unconventional method she uses to make handbuilt serving trays and platters with what she calls faux feet using soft slabs. I love the low-tech simplicity of this method—all you need is a slab, a coil, and your hands (plus lots of practice to make it work with such soft clay!). – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

Five Great Handbuilding Techniques and Tools

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This clip was excerpted from From Plate to Tureen: Slab and Coil Building, which is in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop!

Also available as a download! Click here to learn more!

More on Soft Slab Pottery

If you have caught the slab pottery bug, you’ve come to the right place for inspiration! To get you started, check out this article by Daryl Baird on using slump molds with soft slabs! Liz Zlot Summerfield is also an excellent resource for slab building techniques. Birdie Boone works with super thin slabs to make her ultra light slab pottery. Check out this video on how to use a slump mold to make a platter as an example. If you have trouble controlling your soft slabs when hand building, you could try Lisa Pedolsky’s technique of using tar paper as a support. This technique enables Lisa to work on her forms at various stages of dryness and get great results. There’s more than one way to work with slabs. Try various techniques for your slab pottery and find the one that works for you!

Do you have a favorite soft slab building technique that you like to use? Add your technique to the comments below!

**First published in 2014.
  • I’ve worked with clay off and on depending on where I live at the time. I am back to it again and appreciate the inspiration. I’m just putting together my studio since in the past I have shared space. What kind of surface do you use to roll on? And where do I get it?

  • donna t.

    Nice to see a clip from a Nebraskan, just because you inspired me today I’m g0ing to work some corn into my platter!

  • Eoline K.

    If you ever have a chance to do a workshop with Gail Kendall, DO IT! She is simply the best teacher on the planet and a lovely person. I spent 10 days at Penland with her last year, one of my best experiences ever. The video is excellent, as well.

  • I like this technique, but I wanted to make some platters without the footring. I threw an open ring of clay and then made it oval. I bisqued it and now use it to form the platters.

  • Jenny S.

    Wonderful handwork: slab combined with coils: thanks for sharing and so easy for a beginner to do too. Well done!

  • Cassidy S.

    This is fantastic! I’ve been wondering about a nice, simple technique for making slab plates. Thank you!

  • Jacquelyn I.

    I have purchased the DVD and it was very informative. I do appreciate the tips/tricks etc that Gail gives. Wonderful. I do have a couple of questions for Gail.
    1. Her white slip recipe adds up to 105. Most/all are 100. why the difference? or is it a mistake and one of the ingredients need to be changed?
    2. Her Terra cotta clay is it high or low fire clay
    3. What is the glaze temps?

    Also.. I got a little confused, Can you ask Gail to clarify the firing method. Her dvd states that she bisque fires after she puts on the slip. I am not sure about the other glazes and if they are also put on after the white slip was put on or does she use the white slip, bisque fire and then clear glaze and fire again? and at what temps? Thank you so much!

  • Dorothy W.

    I believe towards the beginning of the video she states that she uses terra sig on the bottoms of her pieces. Hope this helps.

  • i enjoyed this so much I order the downloaded the video and I really like it!!! Was very helpful and glad you took your time!! I would like the hand out you are mailing with the CDs would you please email me that,Thanks so I need to know what you are useing to get the red clay white, Thanks so

  • Carole S.

    I attended one of Gail’s workshops she gave at Penland or Arrowmont (can’t remember which) years ago and revisiting with her here brought back all those happy memories! All of my major work is in terra cotta as a result.

    I love Gail’s work and she has added much information to my work. I’m glad she produced this video so I can attend her workshop again!

    Thanks, Gail

  • Janice W.

    Great Video. Thank you very much for sharing this idea. I made a couple of oval platters yesterday using this method after being inspired by the video and happy with the technique and results. It beats and eliminates using a hump mold as you can use this method and make just about any shape you desire. One question though for Gail if I may please…Do you leave the underside of your pieces unglazed or do you fired on a stilts? As this method brings the base of the plate in line with the base of the foot (touching table), there is no room to glaze just leaving the foot unglazed? Hope this makes sense? I fire to Cone 6 and earthenware temps. Thanks in advance.

  • Pauline P.

    I just bought the downloaded version of her lessons and I am very impressed. I have long admired her work, and the video is excellent with lots of very useful tips, etc. I am savoring every moment of the video.
    —On another note, I am grateful that such things are available for downloading. I am a big fan of downloading—, magazines, books, etc. for the very reason that I tend to “hoard” books and magazines, etc, and have a hard time getting rid of them. My solution is to stop the piling up of such “stuff” at the front end, so now, only digital! When they finally get to a show on digital “hoarding”, I will have to be on it. As long as they keep making bigger and bigger external hard drives, no one (except me) has to know about my nasty habit.

  • Barbara C.

    Loved your video I will have to have a go at making something like the platter great demonstration

  • Dorothy P.

    That was a beautifully produced video. I makes me want to go try out her well, explained and demonstrated method.

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