Studio Day: Hand Built Ceramics - Clean Up #1

Today it was time to go into the studio and clean up the plates I made on Sunday.  Here is a picture of two plates, one before and one after being cleaned up:

At this point, after resting three days under plastic, the plates are harder than on Sunday, but not yet "leather hard".  This means that some moisture has left the clay, making it less flexible and more stable, but it has not yet reached the point where it is completely stable but not completely dry (this point is referred to as "leather hard).  Here you can see it -- when I hold the plate upside down in my hand, it holds together but bends. Had I done this on Sunday, it would have broken apart:
Here I am starting the clean up by removing excess clay and smoothing the surfaces:
I put my stamp in the clay at this point while the clay is still pliable enough to take the stamp.
Turning the plate over, I start working on the face of the plate.  I spray it lightly with water first.

These plates are now under plastic again, drying to the leather hard stage.  That will take a day or two.  At that time I will do the final cleaning of the surfaces, making sure they are meticulous.  It is important, especially with flat undersurfaces, that the plates are perfectly smooth so that they do not scratch the surface of a table.
You can see that hand built ceramic plates are time consuming to make.  Many potters opt to make one or two in a series, and then make a plaster mould of the plate.   After the mould is made, clay can either be formed into the mould or slip (liquified clay) can be poured into the mould.  This is done in order to make the ceramics affordable.  I am being extravagant and want every plate to be different.  I might make a couple of extras, though, and make plaster moulds, if in fact this set turns out nicely.