- Ceramic Arts Daily - http://ceramicartsdaily.org -

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

Christine Boyd’s “Crow Platter” performs double duty as a wall hanging artwork and a functional serving dish.

Cristine Boyd’s “Crow Platter” performs double duty as a wall hanging artwork and a functional serving dish.

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.



This post was excerpted from Studio Ceramics: Advanced Techniques,
which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore.


The back of one of Boyd’s plates, with the wire in place.

Fig.1 The back of one of Boyd’s plates, with the wire in place.

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 wire is held in place by a sewing snap fastened to it.

Fig.2 The wire is held in place by a sewing snap fastened to it.

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).
Fig.3 The hanging wire in the slot on a finished, fired plate.

Fig.3 The hanging wire in the slot on a finished, fired plate.

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).
Fig.4 Tool #1, used to create the circle at the bottom of the slot.

Fig.4 Tool #1, used to create the circle at the bottom of the slot.

Cristine
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.”
Fig.5 Insert the tool into the clay until the pivot point hits the works surface, then twirl it to make a circle.

Fig.5 Insert the tool into the clay until the pivot point hits the works surface, then twirl it to make a circle.

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.
Fig.6 Lift the tool after completing the circle to remove the disk of clay.

Fig.6 Lift the tool after completing the circle to remove the disk of clay.

Once
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
rim.
Fig.7 Tool #2, a rectangular loop of wire on a stem, creates the slot and channel for the wire and snap.

Fig.7 Tool #2, a rectangular wire loop on a stem, creates the slot and channel for the wire and snap.

Holding tool #2 horizontally, place it at the top of the circle, level with the surface.

Fig. 8 Holding tool #2 horizontally, place it at the top of the circle, level with the surface.

Fig.9 Drag the tool up towards the top of the plate so that it cuts a channel or slot in the surface.

Fig.9 Drag the tool up towards the top of the plate so that it cuts a channel or slot in the surface.

Fig.10 Insert tool #2 vertically into the slot to create undercuts on both the right and the left of the channel.

Fig.10 Insert tool #2 vertically into the slot to create undercuts on both the right and the left of the channel.

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).
Fig.11 Starting at the top of the channel, move towards the circular opening so you can easily lift out the clay.

Fig.11 Starting at the top of the channel, move towards the circular opening so you can easily lift out the clay.

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
the plate. 
Use tool #3 to compress, smooth and widen the surface of the inside the channel.

Fig.12 Use tool #3 to compress, smooth and widen the surface of the inside the channel.

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.
<br />Fig.13 To find the length of wire, pull it across the back of the plate and add 2½ inches beyond the slots.

Fig.13 To find the length of wire, pull it across the back of the plate and add 2½ inches beyond the slots.

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!
Fig.14 Thread the picture-hanging wire through the snap from the front side so the loop is on the back side.

Fig.14 Thread the picture-hanging wire through the snap from the front side so the loop is on the back side.

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.
<br />Fig.15 Use snub-nosed pliers to compress both the wire and the snap, to avoid having the mechanism snag in the channel.

Fig.15 Use snub-nosed pliers to compress both the wire and the snap, to avoid having the mechanism snag in the channel.

Fig.16 Using a wire winder, secure the snap onto one end of the picture hanging wire.

Fig.16 Using a wire winder, secure the snap onto one end of the picture hanging wire.

Fig.17 Insert the completed end, press the middle of the wire up to the appropriate amount, then bend the other side of the wire where the snap should seat.

Fig.17 Insert the completed end, press the middle of the wire up to the appropriate amount, then bend the other side of the wire where the snap should seat.

When
Boyd sells a piece with a hanging mechanism, she demonstrates how
to install and remove it. She also includes a card that says, “This
hanging device is designed to be removed easily, to allow the plate to
be used for serving food.”

It’s the little extra things like
Boyd’s hanging devices that go a long way toward opening up dialog with
a stranger who approaches you and your work!


Article printed from Ceramic Arts Daily: http://ceramicartsdaily.org

URL to article: http://ceramicartsdaily.org/clay-tools/making-clay-tools/a-smart-hanging-system-that-helps-functional-pottery-double-as-ceramic-wall-art/

Copyright © 2008-2012 Ceramic Arts Daily. All rights reserved.