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....

Read More

Going Batty

Posted by on Oct 24, 2012 in Batts, Tools | 0 comments

In the spirit of the season (the end of the baseball season and the World Series), I thought I would share a few thoughts on batts. Although there are potters who throw directly on the wheel-head, I have always used a batt.  And I have sampled plenty of batts.  So when I set up my studio, I purchased several batts and as I have changed how I throw, I have developed a set of favorites that I tend to use more frequently.  But, even if you work at a community studio, you may want to have a few batts of your own to accomodate your pots.  Here are some features to consider when selecting batts. Holes or no holes – I use batt pins which means all of my batts have holes to accomodate the pins.  I have not found this to be problematic even when throwing a wide bottomed pot.  But, many potters prefer to use hole-less batts.  Hole-less batts can be secured using clay balls or a bat-gripper. Some batts split the difference and provide holes that don’t penetrate the batt to the throwing surface. Size matters – Consider the size pots you make on a regular basis.  If you make mongo-huge pots, you will need a batt to accomodate the bottom width of those pots.  I estimate that 80% of the pots that I make have bottoms less than 6″ in diameter.  But, when I make sets of plates, I need a batt wide enough to protect the width of the rim (it is never a good idea to have a pot rim wider than the batt because I inevitably bump it). How many – If you work at a community studio, you may prefer to purchase a few batts to ensure that you will have a good quality batt available for your work.  In such a situation, you may only need a couple of batts.  However, if you are a production potter, you may need several to accomodate your throwing capacity. Storage – Batts can consume a lot of space and you need to have storage space.  I like to stack my batts flat when they are not in use but Julie prefers to stand them on edge.  She uses a kitchen pot holder designed to store pans upright.  Plaster batts must be stored flat or they chip easily.  You also need to consider how to store batts when they are being used.  Batts will consume a lot of shelf space as you wait for pots to dry before moving them to ware-boards.  Square batts or tiles can help maximize shelf space. Portability – If you work remotely, then you should consider the portability of batts.  I encourage all of the community center potters to transport their pots home so they can control the drying time.  It is best to use a batt that is larger than the pot width to protect against being knocked and to use a batt that is inflexible to avoid torquing the pot.  Plasti-bats and masonite bats are prone to torque.  Plaster batts may weigh too much and be too fragile for constant transportation.  Wooden and tile batts are good choices for potters who transport their pots regularly. Differential drying – Storing pots on impermeable batts such as a plasti-batt, can cause the bottoms to dry much slower than the rims of your pots.  When I worked at a community studio, I used plasti-bats which were great because the impermeable plastic kept my pot moist for several days until I got back to work on it.  Now, that I work...

Read More