Key Dish and Pot Plant Mat – 1920’s style

Key Dish and Pot Plant Mat – 1920’s style


I chose ceramic artist Clarice Cliff for inspiration in the second quarter challenge because I liked this plate that she decorated in 1929.

I planned to make a shallow bowl and matching pot plant mat, in the style of Clarice’s plate decoration, using the resist method to make a pod

This is the shape of the shallow bowl I wanted to make.  It would be white on the outside (like the reverse of the plate above) and decorated on the whole inside surface.  The large circle that would be cut out from the top would not be wasted but would be worked into a pot plant mat.

I have made a similar bowl before using this method so I was confident with my idea.

I took my colour palette from 8 plants that are growing in my garden during the second quarter of 2021 – red, mauve, green, orange, yellow, pink, white, blue.

I cut a circle of paper 24.5cm (9.5”) in diameter then drew shapes on it – similar to those above on the plate – then I coloured in the shapes using the colours of the plants…

…then I set about making 8 pieces of pre-felt to match.

To enable me to cut accurate shapes from the pre-felt I used freezer paper – the paper has wax on one side.  Tackling one colour at a time, I traced the shapes onto the non-waxed side of the freezer paper then pressed the paper waxed side down onto the pre-felt using a medium iron for 2-3 seconds.

After cooling, the paper will stick to the felt making it easy to cut the shapes out and the paper will peel away very easily.

Here are the shapes after cutting out – I didn’t realise until I was up to my elbows in wet felt and soap suds that I forgotten to cut 2 of the orange shapes.  There should have been 10 – doh!

I placed the paper pattern onto the bamboo mat then covered it with a clear plastic circle.  I misted the plastic with soapy water then I made some black yarn wet and very soapy – hopefully to make it ‘sticky’ – then placed it onto the plastic circle following the lines of the paper pattern beneath it.

I dunked the felt shapes, one at a time, in a dish of soapy water then placed them on top of the yarn.

I covered the circle with 2 layers of white merino wool top before flipping it over.

I removed the paper pattern then once again put down the black yarn following the pattern showing through the clear plastic circle.

Then I placed the coloured shapes on top as I did for the first side.

For this project, I put 4 layers of white merino wool tops on each side then worked it as described in the pod tutorial.

I cut the hole, as shown below, leaving only a narrow edge.

I finished the felting process on the circle that I cut away for the pot plant mat, then I turned my attention to the bowl-in-progress.

My plan was to make a shallow bowl in the shape shown below.

I’m not sure what went wrong but the felting gods were definitely not smiling upon me and my shallow bowl didn’t form as I’d planned.

So after a quick re-think I cut away the edge of the non-bowl then turned the remaining circle of felt upside down on a cake tin to form a dish in the shape of a pin-tray by Clarice Cliff (2 pin trays shown below).

It took a lot of soap and persuasion to get it shaped and my fingers looked like prunes after a while but I was very determined!

I did achieve my pot plant mat, but instead of a matching shallow bowl I made a key dish instead!

They would be ideal for a hallway table.

I hope you feel inspired by the 1920’s to make something in your chosen medium, and if you do, please post a photo in the Studio Challenges Section on The Forum.

33 thoughts on “Key Dish and Pot Plant Mat – 1920’s style

  1. It may not have been your original plan but I reckon that key dish with its matching mat is a triumph! Plus it shows more of that beautiful pattern than it would have done if it were a bowl.

    1. You are right Karen – my plan was ok on paper but in reality the pattern would have been overshadowed by the white outside of the bowl. So I’m glad it’s a key dish!

  2. I’m using prefelts for the first time and rely enjoying the control over shape and colour. Love your projects

  3. I can only echo Nancy’s comments: WOW! I love the inspiration, and the way you have carried out the process is really inspiring. I also think that the key dish is better for this purpose than the lipped bowl. I’d love to have a go at the shape you originally intended – add it to the list!

    1. Thank you Ann. Yes the lipped bowl does work – I made one a few years back – but I’m glad that this time the plan changed for the better.

    1. Thank you Lise. The black outline makes it look a bit like stained glass and I believe that’s what Clarice sometimes called her designs that she painted (like the plate at the top of the blog post).

  4. Great pieces Lyn. I love the definition you got and admire your ability to keep track of all the pieces. I like the key dish better too for the same reason everyone else does. Am I the only one that thought there would be something going in on with a mat for marijuana plant? LOL.

  5. I love both pieces and Ann’s pot plant mat joke made me smile. It’s funny but I’m doing a similar piece for the second quarter challenge only I didn’t use prefelt, posts coming soon. I like the shape of the key dish even if it wasn’t what was planned.

    1. Great minds think alike Ruth – looking forward to seeing your interpretation!

      I think the key dish is better than the planned bowl, but the annoying thing is that had I known the bowl wasn’t going to work, I could have just made 2 circular pieces of felt instead of messing about with a resist!

  6. Thank you so very much for this idea and tutorial! I enjoyed it and hope to experiment with the idea at a later time…

  7. These are gorgeous Lyn. I love the technique you developed, it’s quite unlike anything I’ve seen before and shows such great control. You really smashed the challenge too – fabulous!

    1. Thank you Lindsay. Clarice Cliff really was a great inspiration with her pattern and bright colours.

      As I said in my reply to Ruth above, had I known the bowl wasn’t going to work, I could have just made two circles of felt without messing around with the resist! However, sometimes you have to go right round the houses to get where you’re going.

  8. I love Clarice Cliff’s work and you nailed it. Your work inspires the same sort of spring time optimism I always see in hers, and you picked such gorgeous colours! Beautiful results in spite of any set backs. The key tray would get a serious workout in my home, so it’s a great alternative to the larger bowl.

    1. Thank you for your very kind comment. Clarice was ‘ahead of her time’ and she created some beautiful pieces.

      Key trays are important – how much time is wasted searching for keys? So much easier to have a place for them near the door.

  9. I know that things don’t always go to plan, but these turned out beautifully!

  10. These are beautiful! Thank you for the inspiration! I’m imspired to try prefelts.

  11. Lyn – super achievements with serendipity at its best in this case. You’ve employed the stained glass technique to great effect – Clarice must be smiling down in you.

    Your technique described is a great companion to that described by Ildi in her recent post….now all added to the ‘must try’ category.

    To keep track of all your pieces you must have had a good system in place!

    1. Thank you Antje. It was really easy to keep track of the pieces using the paper pattern with the clear plastic resist. I was pleased with the stained glass effect – the black outline makes the colours ‘pop’.

  12. I have heard that in art there are no mistakes, just creative opportunities. I was glad to see how you turned it around.

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