Mother’s Day 2017
Just like last year I wanted to do something crafty and meaningful for Mother’s Day and managed to find some fantastic ideas on Pinterest (of course) that I figured would be easy, fun, useful AND meaningful! Perfect! Well…you’ve all heard the Pinterest fail stories right? This craft story has a happy ending, but a pretty rocky beginning!
I’m not sure how I came to the idea of DIY dinner plates, but that’s where this story begins. I found some beautiful inspiration on Pinterest for lace imprinted clay plates with basic instructions that sounded totally doable. I loved the idea of using lace as the pattern because I have some beautiful crocheted doilies my mother’s Aunts made and gifted to her. I also have lovely little hand crocheted doilies from my grandmother that I figured would make beautiful clay coasters. Last year I was able to incorporate china teacups, my grandmother left me, into my mother’s gift and I loved being able to bring the spirit of my mother’s mother into the day that celebrates them. Using my great Aunts and Grandmother’s crocheted doilies was another really cool way of keeping their spirits alive on this special day. Once I decided on the plates I built the rest of the gift around the idea of a hostess basket which would include embroidered dinner napkins with napkin holders, the plates and the coasters. The first thing I did was order simple linen napkins and vintage porcelain napkin rings from Etsy. I wanted to save myself some time and energy and figured I’d buy the napkins instead of sewing them and then personalize them with an embroidery and monogram of my choice. That was actually the only smart thing I did. I ruined how brilliant that idea was by waiting until the day of to do the embroidery. I have a very fancy, very complicated Bernina 580 sewing machine and have never had the opportunity to take any lessons on it. So I am constantly trying to figure it out by watching YouTube videos and reading articles online. This is a very slow going way of figuring out my machine and definitely not a smart thing to do the day the gift is being given! I naively thought to myself that all I had to do was simply program the embroidery stitch I wanted to use, press a few buttons, put my fabric in the hoop and voila! Custom embroidered dinner napkins! Yeah, not so much! Anyone who sews knows that it’s far more complicated than that. You’re upper thread tension needs to be correct; your bobbin needs to be inserted properly; your machine needs to be clean and dust free; your needle and thread needs to be specifically for embroidery; you need to know how to program the damn thing to do the embroidery you want; position your fabric properly in the hoop so the design ends up where you want it, and so on and so on. I managed to get it done but by the time I finished I was so burnt out and frustrated that I had to go to my room and do some deep breathing just so I could let it go. Not exactly the best way to spend my Mother’s Day. I will eventually attempt this again but will give myself far more time in the future to get it right.
The diner plates were also far more complicated and time consuming than I originally anticipated. Thank goodness I gave myself at least a week to accomplish them, but truth be told, I should have given myself a month or more to get the hang of it. Pottery is no simple task and as I have now discovered not really my thing. Sometimes us crafters have to make decisions in life about how many different hobbies we embark on. Pottery, for me at least, is not going to become one of my crafting priorities. I may choose to dabble in it here and there, but it really requires serious craft and skill both of which take time and experience. Being the sometimes idiot that I am, I waltzed right into my local art center, signed up for a month membership so that I could use their equipment and kiln; purchased some clay and got straight to plate making like it was no big thing. However, clay I now know, is very very touchy! It has a memory, you see, which means that if you lift it up from the rolled out edges or pick it up from out of the mold wrong it will retain that shape when you fire it. Which makes for some slightly off kilter, kinda wobbly dinner plates. Once you’ve managed, with the greatest care, to imprint your lace; slide it onto a mold; cut off the excess around the edge of your mold; sponge off any hard edges that will turn to razor like glass once fired; and, put it on a rack to dry you must cover it properly with plastic to ensure that it drys slowly and evenly. One of my plates dried too fast on one corner and cracked. I tried valiantly to repair the crack but once fired it worsened and that plate is now a throw away. Those around me at the art center who work with clay all day long just shrugged their shoulders and chuckled at the absolute devastation I felt for all that wasted time and energy. They informed me that a cracked plate or two is status quo in the pottery world and to be expected. I tried, like them, to shrug it off, but I couldn’t deny how bummed I was that I’d have to start all over with another plate. I ended up including the cracked plate in my mother’s gift so I would still have a set of 6 to gift her with the promise that I would eventually go back to the art center to make her another. She’s trying to get me to make her a set of 10; but, the thought of all that time with touchy clay exhausts me! I also failed to understand that the colorful glazes I used to give my plates a bright fun spring vibe don’t necessarily turn out the way they look when you paint it on the clay before it’s fired. One plate that I thought was going to be a lovely fern green ended up a rather ugly poop color. So really, I owe my mother at least two more plates since the poop brown one is kinda throwing off the whole spring color theme.
The plates went through an initial under glazing (where I thought I had picked the perfect spring colors) before the clear glaze that turns it into a shiny glassy surface after it’s been fired. It takes days between each glazing for the plates to be dry enough to go in the kiln. They weren’t done until the Sunday of Mother’s Day and my amazing husband drove the 20 minutes into Park City to pick them up from the art center while I toiled away on the napkins. My mother and I also had the bright idea to cook our own Mother’s Day dinner so as soon as the napkins were finished I rushed to the kitchen to start making the vegetable sides I had chosen for our meal. Yeah, it was a pretty hectic day that was totally self induced but I learned a very valuable lesson…next year I’m picking my projects at least a month in advance; making sure they’re actually doable for me, getting them done with plenty of time to spare; and, making absolutely certain neither my mother or I lift a damn finger on that sacred day that celebrates us for lifting all our fingers every other day!