Going Batty (part 2)

Posted by on Oct 27, 2012 in Batts, Review, Tools | 0 comments

I prefer to use a batt rather than throwing directly on the wheel head.  But batts are a financial and spacial commitment.  So if you are considering purchasing batts, here is an overview of several choices. Tile-Batt System – This is my favorite solution because for nominal cost, I have 35 batts that store easily and consume minimal shelf space.  In addition, the tiles are porous and allow the pot bottoms to dry more evenly. The tiles only accomodate pots with feet less than 6″wide but it is a great solution for any production potter with limited shelf space.  The tiles hold up well with use. Speedball Bats – These batts are often community studio choices.  The batt pin holes do not penetrate the batt and they have an over-hanging edge that makes them easy to lift off the wheel.  They are flexible which I don’t care for because this can allow pots to torque.  Although they are inexpensive, I have had issues with warping and I find it frustrating to put them on the wheel head. Amaco Plasti-Bat – These are durable, thin batts made of plastic.  The drilled variety are easy to put on and remove from the wheel.  The batts have some flexibility so I don’t use them when throwing heavier pots but I have not had a problem with warping.  There are various diameters; but these are expensive. Blue Plastic Bats (also called HDPE bats) – These are thin, durable, and affordable.  These are inflexible so they don’t torque when removing them from the wheel.  They come in two sizes (13″ and 15″); and the 15″ batt is a great price.  I added foam to the 15″ batt; it is great for trimming wide bowls. Medex Bats –  These are thick batts made of wood product that are inflexible.  They don’t warp and are inexpensive but they require a lot of storage space.  I have a few of these and find them to be difficult to remove from the wheel because the bat pin holes are very snug.  I don’t feel they are worth the space needed to store them. Masonite/Duron Bats –  These thin batts are made of pressed wood  and have a slick surface.  They are very inexpensive but are not very durable.  Mine have held up well but I am mindful to give them time to dry out between throwing sessions.  They are thin and very lightweight so storage and portability are not issues; but, they have some flexibility. Hydrobat – This is a more durable alternative to traditional plaster batts.  The porous surface is smooth and gives you the option of  allowing your post to dry on the batt rather than under-cutting them.  I use these for large diameter platters.  They come in various sizes (I have the 24″) but they are heavy and require some conscientious storage because they can be broken.  The batt pin holes have been reinforced with rubber grommet to improve durability. There is a large selection of batts available.  It is best to use a batt before stocking your studio with one kind....

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A bit off center

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in Review, Tools | 0 comments

There are two tools that I use regularly and recommend to potters who are setting up a studio: the tile batt and the giffin grip. Tile batts are a great solution for any studio because they are so space efficient.  Also, you don’t have to cut the pot off the batt; you can let it dry and it will pop off (similar to plaster batts).  And, tile batts are very affordable.  I bought the batt and 35 tiles for about $85 (it would cost approximately $350 to purchase the same number of plastic batts).  I bought my tile batt in 2008.  My father put a coat of polyurethane on it which has helped keep it in great condition. It can take some practice to be able to use the tiles.  Until the tiles are ‘seasoned’, pots are more prone to slipping off the tile.  And, if you use a lot of water or throw slowly, pots are prone to slip as well.  Also, if you throw a pot using the tile batt, remove it (perhaps to let it dry), and put it back on the batt to finish throwing, the pot will be a bit off center unless you put the tile back in the original orientation.  In order to return the tile to its original orientation, I marked one corner of the batt with an asterisk and marked the corner of each of my tiles with my initials (this also helps me keep up with my tiles since the art center also uses tile bats).  By lining up the marks, I can be sure the tiles are oriented in the same direction as the pots were thrown and avoid having them be a bit off center. I also use a giffin grip – the most controversial of pottery tools.  There are pots that are not good candidates for the giffin grip (too wide/changes center/decorated/etc.); but, for a lot of pots, the giffin grip is an efficient way to quickly center and secure a pot.  I prefer to use the giffin grip for trimming because I can stop to check the pot thickness without a lot of drama since the pot can be put back on the giffin grip and centered quickly.  However, if you don’t put the pot back on the giffin grip in the same orientation, it can be a bit off center.  In order to avoid this, I have marked one spot on the grip with an asterisk.  Before I remove the pot from the giffin grip, I make a small mark on the pot using my fingernail.  If the pot requires more trimming, I align the fingernail mark with the asterisk which closely re-centers the pot and resume...

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Production Pottery – Tools

Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 in Class, Dinnerware, How-to, Multiples, Review, Scale, Tools | 0 comments

There are two fundamental challenges to making dinnerware.  The first challenge is to make similar pieces look similar (i.e. one salad plate should look like all the other salad plates).  This is accomplished by making pots that are the same size and shape.  Making pots that are the same size will help them look like they belong together; and, it is easier to replicate size (height and width) than it is to replicate shape – the key is to measure.  Fortunately, there are a few tools that can help potters in their quest to make place settings. A good scale is indispensable when making sets.  Starting with the same amount of clay will help a potter make subsequent pots in a set.  I have two Escali scales and recommend them highly (they also come in a variety of fun colors).  For more elaboration on what to consider in a scale, refer to the blog entry “Potter’s Tool Kit – Scale“. A ruler is very basic but essential tool.  Measuring height and width will help potters make sets and will help develop a ‘recipe’ of important statistics. Calipers will make measuring diameters more accurate and with less distortion of the pot. Pointer or chopsticks can expedite pot production because after you set the height and diameter, you can throw each pot to those dimensions without stopping several times to measure.  Although these help, it is still a good idea to measure the height and width in case the pointer or chopstick gets bumped during throwing. I recommend keeping a studio notebook where you can record measurements and notes.  This is a good reference in case you need to make a replacement plate or bowl in the...

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Potter’s Tool Kit – Studio Tools

Posted by on Jun 25, 2011 in About Me, Review, Tools | 0 comments

Acquiring tools will not make better pots – practicing with them will. Every potter has a set of core tools – tools that she uses consistently in her tool kit.  But, there are also some tools that are too large to fit in most portable kits.  These are the studio tools.  Even when I didn’t have my own studio, I owned several studio tools because the art centers didn’t supply them. Tile Bat Tile Bat System – This is a great and affordable alternative to plastic and plaster bats.  I ordered it from Pottery Supply House; it comes with one tile so I purchased an additional box of tiles.  I sealed the tile bat (well I had my generous father seal the tile bat) with polyurethane.  I used a sharpie to mark the one corner of the bat and the corner of each tile (I used my initials since I often use the tiles in other studios); this allows me to re-align the tiles in the same orientation.  It takes a while to season the tiles and throwing with a lot of water can cause the pots to slip on the tile.  But, the tiles take up less shelf space; and, if I don’t want to undercut a pot, it will pop off the tile as it dries.  Since majority of the pots that I throw have base-diameters that are less than 6″, the tile bat is ideal. Test Sieve – This is an indespensible tool for every potter because it is perfect for sieving a pint of glaze.  It is portable and worth carrying for glazing sessions.  I also have a set of 14″ sieve basins that I bought from PSH that are very affordable and have held up well.  But, I feel like I waste a lot of glaze if I sieve a pint because there is so much residual glaze left in the large surface area of the basin. Dremmel tool – I stole Jeff’s dremmel (he wasn’t using it and now it is being used for a higher calling).  This is great for smoothing bottoms and edges of bisqueware or glaze-ware.  It is also handy for buffing out nicks in ribs. Banding Wheel Turn Table – I didn’t purchase a banding wheel until I found a heavy duty one at an affordable price.  And, when I did, I bought 2.  Some of the less expensive banding wheels are light weight aluminum and don’t turn easily.  This particular banding wheel is as good as the more expensive Shimpo banding wheels.  Banding wheels are very helpful when decorating a pot or attaching appendages (like spouts and handles).  I purchased mine from Daven’s Cermaic Center in Atlanta; I haven’t seen it at a lower price elsewhere but their on-line catalog is cumbersome. Giffin Grip Giffin Grip – The most controversial tool in a potter’s kit.  Apparently, this tool inspires vigorous philosophical debate.  But, as I love multiples, I find it to be a valuable tool for saving time.  It has limitations and is not the answer for every pot; but what it does, it does well.  And, although it is pricey, I believe it to be worth the...

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Potter’s Tool Kit – Secondary Tools

Posted by on Jun 7, 2011 in Review, Tools | 0 comments

Acquiring tools will not make better pots – practicing with them will. Every potter has a set of core tools – tools that she won’t leave home without.  Then there are the secondary tools – tools that are used for more specialized purposes.  Although I don’t use these tools every day, I appreciate having them when I need them. Scratching Wire Tool Kemper Clean Up Tool Hole Punch Tool Speed Ball Roller Sherrill Stainless Steel Ribs Lid Master Calipers Red Bulb Slip Trailer Wire brush – I prefer this tool for scoring.  It is one of my favorites. Clean up tools – Needful for removing glaze drips.  And even though I have several, I still can’t find one when I need it. Hole Punch – How else can I make a teapot? Sherrill Stainless Steel Ribs – These are a little pricey but they are a nice alternative to the more flexible aluminum ribs.  I especially like Rib #0. Lid Master Calipers – Most useful for making well-fitting lids. Red Bulb Slip Trailer – This is one of the better slip trailers. Speed ball roller – An alternative for a rolling pin in a size that feels more...

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Potter’s Tool Kit – Core Tools

Posted by on May 19, 2011 in About Me, Review, Tools | 0 comments

Acquiring tools will not make better pots – practicing with them will. Tools are a hot topic in pottery.  They are discussed during every demo, at every workshop, and in every class.  A potter’s tool kit is unique to the potter. The tools a potter uses can determine (in part) the type of pot the potter makes.  I like to try new tools and see how they change my pots.  When I am unfocused or struggling to design a new pot, I challenge myself to make a cylinder or bowl using different tools. I use a variety of tools but there are a few tools that are my core tools. Triangle trim tool – This is my favorite tool.  It changed the profile of my pots because it helped me remove clay at the base of the pot in the throwing stage and prepare the pot for leather-hard trimming.  Some potters use a sharp wooden tool but the triangle tool is easier for me to remove the clay without marring the walls.  A good beginning tool or one that will be used in community studios is sold by PSH ($4).  I use the Dolan 120 ($12) available from Bailey. Thin undercut wires with handles – Dirty Girl Tools – I love these wires because they come in various sizes and are extremely thin.  They are great for beginners whose pots often have thin bottoms.  The 7” wire is great for me because the standard clay cutoff wire is usually too long and requires shortening my twisting around my fingers which hurts.  The soft, orange handles make cutting the pot off the bat very easy.  Buy from Kentucky Mudworks ($6/each) Metal ribs – I use these all the time to shape and strengthen the pots as I am throwing.  I have several shapes and sizes.  They are available at such a low price ($1/each) from PSH that I even cut them to fit specific needs. Sherrill ribs – These are ubiquitous and most potters love them.  They come in various shapes, sizes, and stiffnesses.  I use red 0, 1 and green 5 ($7/each), although I have several. Dolan trim tools – These are essential for trimming.  I have tried several brands but I prefer Dolan because they stay sharp.  There is nothing more frustrating to a potter or damaging to a pot than a dull trimming tool.  These come in several shapes and sizes; I use the Dolan 310 and 510...

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