Making a butter dish and template design
I read a recent article about the dangers (or maybe it was folly) of making new work for an upcoming show without testing and revising the original idea first. So, here I am less than one month away (24 days to be exact) from the Colorado Potters Guild Fall show in Nov. and I’m making new work. A couple nights ago, I woke up around 2 am and suffered through a bout of insomnia – my grandparent’s clock that makes noise every 15 minutes and announces the hour with the appropriate loud gongs reminded me that I should have been sleeping at 3am and then again at 4am. Normally, I don’t have problems sleeping through the night, but every once in awhile it happens.
All of a sudden, instead of counting sheep, I was thinking about pottery and clay. New forms popped into my head and I briefly entertained the idea of getting up and marching into the studio. I knew that if I turned on the light above my nightstand that my husband would be grumpy – so I allowed my mind to mentally visualize some of those forms in the dark of night. Vases, tea pots, covered boxes, sets, tiles and more floated through my head. After I heard the clock ring 4 am, I was feeling sleepy again and drifted off to clay filled dreams until the alarm buzzed 6am. Luckily, I was able to remember and sketch those ideas out in the morning.
This isn’t one of the forms that I imagined in the wee hours of Monday morning, but it might have influenced my clay filled dreams. On Sunday afternoon, I was playing around with a lino-cut that my husband made this past summer of a fish bone skeleton and crafted this little set of 2 small cups and matching tray. I’m not much of a shot drinker myself, but the cups are a good size for hard liquor. I use similarly sized cups to drink red wine – and the tray could be part of the presentation, or maybe hold some light snacks. All three pieces are hand built from slabs of clay that were printed using the lino cut and a sheet of embossed paper.
Back to sleepless in Denver…. When I made the set (above) on Sunday, I noted that the tray was the perfect size for a stick of butter. True confession: Other than the plastic butter dish that came with my fridge, my other butter dish is a functional but unexciting white ceramic butter dish that I found at a thrift store years ago. My husband has been bugging me to make a covered butter dish for years. Consequently, my earlier observation about the tray must have triggered something in my brain that caused me to wake up and start designing a covered butter dish that night. First thing on my agenda yesterday, was to make a paper template for a slab built butter dish. I pulled out a stick of butter, along with my thrift store butter dish to get a good look at dimensions – then started measuring and drawing a covered lid on paper.
The trickiest part was trying to decide if the corners should have a slight curve or come straight down at 90° angles. I was able to solve the issue by cutting on the diagonal at each corner intersection and then began the process of folding the corners to find a pleasing fit.
I didn’t account for the slight flare that I allowed in my lid template which increased the base perimeter, so I had to enlarge the bottom half of the butter dish template.
The alteration does make for a larger butter dish than what one would find in a store, but as a bonus, it will fit odd sizes of butter that one might find at a farmers market or specialty market.
I even added a decorative, yet functional handle to the lid. The one I own does not have a handle which I think is a poor design choice. The lid routinely slips out of my hands – it’s a wonder I haven’t broken it yet.
Once I roll out the clay slabs and print them with whatever texture or lino-cut I want, I place the paper template on the slab and use an X-acto knife to cut the shape out. I use extremely soft slabs of clay which can be a challenge, but allows for a seamless design and minimal joints.
Meanwhile, there’s so much external noise right now because of the election and all the bleak economic news that makes it easy to become mired in negativity and dare I say hopelessness. Surprisingly, I am oddly calm and more focused than ever before since I have ready experienced a pseudo personal crisis late summer/early fall before all of this really blew up in the news. It’s not that I don’t care, because I do, it has more to do with my recent decisions and my resolution to forge ahead with a new sort of intentional life that is helping me weather the storm. On a related note, I loved Whitney’s post on staying centered that she wrote a few days ago – perfect metaphor for clay people.
Back to the studio for me,