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A Smart Hanging System That Helps Functional Pottery Double as Ceramic Wall Art
Posted By Annie Chrietzberg On June 30, 2010 @ 8:10 am In Daily,Features,Making Clay Tools | 25 Comments
|In the handmade pottery world, sometimes it’s the little details that can clinch a sale. Cristine Boyd realized that her customers responded well to the idea that a plate could be used for food service or as a wall decoration. So she devised a cool hanging system that doesn’t interfere with the plate’s food-related functions.
In today’s post, Annie Chrietzberg explains the hanging system and the home-made tools Cristine invented to make the system easy and quick to construct. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
|I first came across Cristine Boyd at an art fair. Her booth was irresistible—the work drew me in with its high-contrast, dynamic surfaces, which read well from a distance. Upon approach and engagement, my interest continued to grow, to the point where I had to own a piece. Cristine’s work has a rough-hewn aesthetic that carries through form, decoration, and also, I discovered as I used it, function. Her plates are burly enough for everyday use, but not at all cumbersome and stack well.|
|The wonderful thing about Cristine is that she naturally dwells on
more than form and function and doesn’t attempt to rein it in. In
addition to surrounding herself with decoration and pattern, she has a
mind that travels beyond the usual boundaries and an innate sense of
engineering. These interests are clearly evident in the efficient
system she’s designed for hanging everyday plates that’s easy to use
and remove (figure 1).
|Cristine’s system uses common sewing snaps
and picture-hanging wire (figure 2) to create removable hanging devices
for serving pieces and everyday plates. She carves keyhole-shaped
grooves into the backs of her plate rims when they are in the
leather-hard stage. The grooves have a bevel or undercut below the
surface to hold the snap on the hanging device in place (figure 3).
made three special tools for creating the slots that correspond to the
shrinkage of her clay body and the size of the snaps. She makes these
tools out of long straight pins (the kind used for quilting), dowels
and lots of hot glue. “I don’t make tools for reasons of economy, but
rather because the things I need don’t readily exist,” she explained.
“I’ll come up with an idea that needs a specific shape, and rather than
spend weeks looking for something, I’ll just get out some metal and
pliers and make what I need.”
|Tool #1 is used to start the slot
and it looks like a square trimming tool with a wire extension on one
side (figure 4). This longer wire acts as a pivot point to facilitate
the cutting and removing of a disk of clay (figures 5 and 6). The other
end of the tool is used to smooth out and compress the cut surface.
the disk of clay is removed, she uses tool #2 to cut the slot (figure
7). She makes three cuts with this tool. For the first cut, she holds
the handle horizontally, level with the surface of the plate (figure
8). Starting at the circle, she cuts a groove that’s about an inch long
towards the top edge of the plate. She finishes the cut with a quick
upward flick, and carefully removes the trimmed clay (figure 9). This
cut goes through the surface of the clay and exactly matches the depth
of the circle, but doesn’t cut through to the front side of the plate
|The second and third cuts are made by holding tool #2
vertically to create cuts that run beneath the surface on either side
of that first slot, to create a channel beneath the surface of the clay
that will allow the snap to travel up to the top of the slot and hold
the wire securely in place (figure 10).
|Cuts two and three are started
at the top of the channel and cut back towards the circle, by inserting
the cutting edge of the tool through the channel and rotating it
clockwise for the right side, and counterclockwise for the left side
(figure 11). This is the only way to cut these, as the bit of clay cut
away with each stroke needs to be removed through the circle. It’s very
important to note that all these cuts are meant to create a smooth and
level gallery or channel for the snap below the surface of the back of
|Cristine then uses tool #3 to tamp down, gently widen
and smooth this internal space so that the snap may travel freely in
and out (figure 12).
TIP: Bits of grog can obstruct or hinder the smooth operation of a sliding snap so be sure to press bits of grog left behind into the surface.
|To get the correct amount of wire, Cristine
stretches the wire across the back of a finished plate, measuring
roughly 2½ inches past each slot (figure 13). She uses 15-pound weight,
plastic-coated picture-hanging wire rather than the uncoated type
because it’s kinder to her hands as well as the user’s hands. She
recommends you also buy one of the special picture wire winder tools
available at frame shops and hardware stores that make tidy, secure
coils. The last thing you want is for that wire to unravel and have a
plate come crashing down!
|Cristine first feeds the wire through the
front side, then through the back of the snap, so that the loop of wire
is at the back of the snap (figure 14). Then she takes a pair of
snub-nosed pliers and gives the wire and the snap a good crunch to
compress both the wire and the snap itself (figure 15). She uses both
the male and female sides of snaps, they both work fine. Next, she
feeds the wire into the coil-winding tool, which secures the snap in
place (figure 16). After one side of the wire is complete and put in
place, Boyd presses the middle of the wire up to the point she wants it
to be when the plate is hanging on the wall (figure 17). She then bends
the other side of the wire where the snap should seat, and repeats the
process of threading a snap, crunching it and creating the wire spiral.
It’s the little extra things like
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