A COLLECTION OF TIPS (Part 2)

  1. To keep a piece from sagging while coil building or hand building, you are "supposed" to only build so far, then stop and let it firm up before you continue. But if you are impatient like me, a great solution is Duct Tape! Wrap it all around the piece so it sticks to itself (it won't stick to the clay.) This keeps the form from bulging so you can continue working.

  2. I am always looking for materials to make molds from. A unique method I saw recently was to use hard foam insulation board from the hardware store (the stuff that comes in 4' x 8' sheets, usually 1" thick, and is often pink). You can use a utility knife to cut out shapes to use as slump molds. I am going to use this method to make some square plates.

  3. Another method works great for making plates, trays, etc. Find a block of wood (square or rectangular.) Cut a piece of clay larger than the wood. Put the clay on a large piece of upholstery foam. Take your block of wood and press down in the center of the clay. The sides will come up and make nice rims. This looks really great if you impress the rim with stamps before pressing in the center.

  4. By the way, if you don't have any upholstery foam laying around, get some! It is great for cushioning work while you clean and trim bottoms, so you don't damage the rims. You can often get free scraps from upholsterers.

  5. If you like to stamp, look for interesting textured buttons at fabric stores and flea markets. You can add handles by hot gluing thread spools onto the back, or pieces of thick irrigation tubing cut about 1" long work too.

  6. Another great idea I saw is to tape a small level onto a fettling knife. This way you can be sure you are making straight, level cuts.

BOOK REVIEWS: THROWING

Wheel Thrown Ceramics, by Don Davis, is one of my favorite throwing books. This is a Lark Book, and I love all ceramics books by Lark. It is well illustrated and has a lot of detailed projects, including thrown and altered pieces.

Thrown Pottery Techniques Revealed is a relatively new book. Chock full of cut away photos showing where your hands should be during all stages of throwing. I believe it is very difficult to learn to throw from a book, but if you can, this would be it. I believe it's real strength is for someone who can throw some forms, but needs instruction on additional and more complex forms, because it covers them all.

A Potter's Workbook by Clary Illian was a wonderful surprise to me. Going step by step through the exercises, you develop a better understanding of form. What makes a nice rim, or foot ring? How you do determine the right curve on a bowl or a mug, or the right proportions on a vase? This is an excellent book for wheel throwers who want to bring their work to the next level. It is like taking a course with a master potter.

These and other throwing books can be found here.

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