A couple of weeks ago I received the salt and pepper shaker ceramic molds that I ordered, so I have been working on making them. A customer actually requested these and I thought it would be great to add dog breed salt and pepper shakers to my dog themed gift line-up. I’m excited to see them finished.
Every new item that I add requires getting used to the ceramic mold and the resulting shape – they all have their own idiosyncrasies. The salt and pepper molds were straight forward to use but once the pieces come out of the molds, there were things to deal with that I’d never had to deal with before. Holes need to be made on the tops for the salt and pepper to shake out of, and then the bottoms need to be plugged with a stopper, luckily I’ve found a vendor for these.
The holes on top were a little tricky because they need to be the right diameter for salt and pepper to flow out of at the right rate. Things I had to consider: whatever sized holes I make are going to shrink 12% once the pieces go through the final firing (because that is how much my stoneware shrinks); and the holes will tend to clog with glaze when the shakers are dipped into the glaze.
I’ve used a drill bit that is 2mm in diameter to hand drill the holes in the tops once the shakers were leather hard. I marked the location of the holes using a template I made (based on similar sized salt/pepper shakers I’ve seen). When the piece goes through the bisque firing (the first firing), the holes will shrink a little. The shakers are glazed at this point, and the holes completely plug up with glaze, which requires that I use a needle tool to open them up again. The glaze I use is a non-moving glaze, which means that it doesn’t shift during the firing (a necessary feature because I hand paint my bands and stripes on top of this white glaze, and don’t want my lines moving all over the place), so there’s little danger of the holes plugging up again during the firing.
My first shaker attempt just came out of the kiln today and now I can check how well it performs with salt and pepper. Back from my salt and pepper test. Things worked pretty darn well. Now that I have a final piece that works and know the final overall size of the shakers, I can design the artwork that will decorate them and order the stoppers for the bottoms.
I will report back with a finished and decorated set of dog themed salt and pepper shakers.