A popular thing to do at weddings is to have the guests sign a dinner plate or platter, which is then fired in a kiln to make the signatures permanent. It's a really nice, personalized commemorative for the bride and groom. Truly a one-of-a-kind item.

That means BigCeramicStore.com gets lots of questions about it! This page contains what we know about wedding plates. We also had a Tip-of-the-Week about it.

If you have comments or actual experience about this, your input is most welcome. Email us at support@BigCeramicStore.com

  • Sorry, no. Not at this time.

  • The platter should be unglazed bisque. Bisque is clay that has been fired once and is ready for glaze firing. Lo-fire bisque would be OK as long as the plate was for viewing only (not eating off of regularly afterwards, for example).

    If the bisque is not real smooth, sand it a bit. (Make certain all the dust from sanding is removed with a slightly damp/nearly dry cloth.) The writing will be much better looking. This is a reason to avoid a stoneware bisque with grog in it, even though it would be a more durable piece.

  • In general you want to...

    1. Write on the bisque

    2. Fire it.

    3. Put clear glaze on it

    4. Fire it again

    Putting glaze on unfired UG pencil or marker will tend to wash it out.

  • This is a tough one. There is no simple answer.

    You're looking for an underglaze item, which will go under the glaze (hence "underglaze") and be protected by it.

    You really have 3 practical choices:

    UNDERGLAZE PENCIL

    Based on the feedback we've had from our customers, the Black UG pencil seems to be the one that works most reliably; as far as being visible on the plate once you are all finished firing it. On the downside, it seems more likely to smear or smudge as it's handled by your guests. You'll also need to keep the pencil sharp.

    UNDERGLAZE MARKER

    These seem much better suited to the purpose. The UG marker fluid dries on the bisque and guests would be comfortable using them. They would not require sharpening, like a pencil. On the downside, the writing may get washed out. We have had one customer who specifically tested it and gave us bad feedback. (She said the slate marker faded to a yellow, but we don't specifically know how it was fired, so your mileage may vary. Another customer had good results in a test firing, but poor results in the final product. It was speculated that the pens dried out over the duration of the reception and that less colorant was transferred to the plate. However the final product firing was not strictly monitored and it may not have been done correctly.

    UNDERGLAZE CHALK/CRAYON

    These are really for drawing and sketching; more of an artists tool. Probably a poor choice for this application, unless you just wanted to decorate the plate with some color after signing.

  • We have heard of people using pencil sharpeners or eyeliner pencil sharpeners to keep the pencil sharp during the reception.

  • Yes, there is definitely the risk of smudging or smearing. Try having the guests sign from the top, to the bottom, of the plate, not randomly. That way their hand does not rest on other signatures while they write. Alternately, it's been suggested to have guests sign in a radial pattern from the center out.

    1. Do a full test BEFORE the wedding to work out any problems. It's too important to risk a procedural mess-up. Get an extra plate and try it out. Make notes on how it was fired. If it works good, make sure the real item is processed the same way. If it looks bad, try it another way before the wedding.

    2. Have spare pencils and/or markers, whichever you are using. If one gets broken, damaged or lost, you'll be glad.

    3. Have an extra plate at the reception. If the first gets dropped, pull out the backup. Otherwise, you may be very disappointed, and one of your guests may feel very bad.

  • Here is the link to the page. Underglaze
    Typically we have them in stock and can ship right away.

  • We sell a product called Fired-On Images Decal Paper. With it, you can make your own decals with the guest's signatures and comments on them, and then fire those decals on to an already glazed platter/plate (which is much easier to find than a bisque-fired platter/plate). Just collect up the signatures/comments on regular office paper, possibly on a template cut the same shape as the plate/platter. Once you have done that, transfer them to the decal paper with a HP or Canon printer/copier, then fire those decals onto your glazed plate/platter. See the Fired-On Images page for more info on the firing process.

    ALISON, A FRIEND OF BIGCERAMICSTORE, SAYS...

    I work at a paint-your-own pottery studio and we do quite a few wedding plates and platters. We give the customer a Pentab Flair pen to have the guests sign the piece in. It doesn't bleed or smear but it will burn away in firing. When they bring the piece back to the studio we go over all the words with a writer bottle. (ed. similar to a slip-trailing bottled with a metal tip, like the Amaco, Tucker or squeeze bottle shown here http://www.bigceramicstore.com/Supplies/SlipTrailing.htm )

    They produce a really fine line with very little clogging. We use the Duncan Concepts line of underglaze in the bottle and then dip in clear glaze and fire. We only have to fire it once and everyone has been happy with the finished result.

    I will warn you, when you glaze a piece with the Flair writing on it the pen will show through the glaze. Don't worry about it, it will still burn away and not affect the final product.

    I have attached a picture of a wedding set that was done in our studio to give an idea of the final product. I work for Brushfire Pottery Studio which is located in Nashville, TN and we would be more than happy to help anyone interested in such an endeavor. 615-385-5334

    Thanks Alison!

  • We sell a product called Liquitex Glossies. They are a oven-fired acrylic enamel formulated for use on slick non-porous materials. Your guests would not be able to write directly onto a glazed platter with the Glossies, but you may be able to use a tracing technique (like the one descried by Alison above) to make a semi-permanent/ decorative item for the bride and groom. This product works with an already glazed platter/plate (which is much easier to find than a bisque-fired platter or plate).

    TRUDY, ANOTHER FRIEND OF BIGCERAMICSTORE, SAYS...

    She found a interesting product in a grocery store on Vancouver Island BC. Within a kit (that included a plate for decorating as a baby announcement) she spotted a special pen. The instructions stated that you could decorate the plate “by using the enclosed pen, allow to dry for 24 hours, then bake in oven for 35 minutes at 300 deg F”. The result would be a dishwasher safe decoration.

    The pen was the Porcelaine 150 by Pebeo. It's made by company out of France. Their website is www.pebeo.com. She has since been able to find the pen separately at a Michaels store. They're like markers, and are actually called China Paint (although they don't fire anywhere near the cone 017 temperatures of China Painting). They come in Fine Tip and Bullet Tip, and come in singles of Black, or a mixed package of Blue, Green, Red and Yellow. (ed. At BigCeramicStore, we do not carry Pebeo Pens)

    Thanks Trudy!