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In the Potter’s Kitchen: Personal Bakers

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From savory to sweet, these personal bakers meet all of your needs—they’re workhorses in the kitchen. Start your day with a breakfast casserole for two, then baked salmon and vegetables for lunch, personal lasagnas for dinner, and end with a perfect portion of cookie bars for dessert. For choosy eaters, or those with dietary restrictions, each baker can be personalized.

The Baker

With 1 pound of clay on a bat, throw a bottomless ring that is 6 inches wide and 2 inches high, with a generous lip (1). After the ring has set up and you’re unable to make a fingerprint when it’s touched, cut it off the bat with a fettling knife and form it into a rectangle. Then, make a -inch-thick slab by repeatedly tossing a thicker slab onto a table at an angle. After each toss, rotate and flip the slab to ensure it’s stretched evenly. Attach the walls of the baker to the slab with a good amount of slip (2), and cut the excess slab away. Once this step is complete, pull 4-inch-long handles off the hump for the bakers. When the handles are nearly leather hard, cut the ends at an angle so they will tilt up when attached to the baker (the tilt allows for ergonomic maneuvering in a hot oven). Attach the handles (3) and cover the baker with plastic for a few hours, so all of the components can homogenize and dry evenly. When the baker has fully reached the leather-hard stage, clean up the bottom of the baker, round it off with a rasp, and smooth your markings with a rubber rib.


Figure 1

1 Use 1 pound of clay and a bat to throw a bottomless ring that is 6 inches wide and 2 inches high.


Figure 2

2 After the ring sets up, use a fettling knife to cut it loose from the bat, form it into a rectangle, and attach it to an inch thick slab.


Figure 3_RT

3 Pull 4-inch-long handles and attach them to the baker once they are leather hard. Cover the baker in plastic for a few hours.


Figure 4

4 To begin the tray, use 2 pounds of clay and throw a 10-inch-diameter plate with a slight upward slope toward the lip.

The Tray

The tray serves multiple functions for the personal baking dish. After retrieving a hot baker from the oven, the tray allows a cool surface to hold while transporting your meal and it protects the table from heat, too. The raised lip on the tray keeps the baker in place and provides visual emphasis.


Figure 5

5 Trim the bottom of the plate flat and mark two parallel sides that will be cut.


Figure 6

6 Use a fettling knife to cut away two parallel sides to create a rectangle.


Figure 7

7 Make a -inch-thick slab and cut 1⁄3-inch strips to be used as the sides. Attach the strips to the tray with slip to create a raised lip.


Figure 8

8 Once the tray is fully leather hard, use a rasp to refine the sides and use a rubber rib to smooth out the rasp marks.

To create the tray, begin with 2 pounds of clay, and throw a 10-inch-diameter, flat plate with a slight upward slope toward the lip (4). When the plate is almost leather hard, trim the bottom flat and cut away two parallel sides to create a rectangle (5, 6). (Be sure to leave enough overhang around the sides of the baker, so cut no more than 2 inches from each side of the plate.) Next,  make a -inch-thick slab either by rolling it out or tossing a thicker slab of clay down on a table at an angle to stretch it. With both methods, flip and rotate the clay after each toss or pass of the rolling pin. Cut 1⁄3-inch strips, and, using slip, attach them to the tray to create a raised lip (7). Use a sponge to smooth the strips and blend them to into the tray. After the tray is fully leather hard, use a rasp to clean the sides, and smooth the rasp marks with a rubber rib (8).


zouhary recipe

Caleb Zouhary earned his MFA in ceramics from the University of North Texas, Denton. He is currently a studio artist living in Bedford, Ohio. To learn more about his work, visit www.calebzouhary.com.

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