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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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...

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A Better Grip

Posted by on Oct 13, 2012 in Tools | 0 comments

I have a giffin grip and I use it often.  As I love multiples, I find it to be a valuable tool for saving time.  But it seems to me the time I save by using the giffin grip is off-set by the time it takes me to locate three arms of equal length! Am I the only potter who laments that the giffin grip arms aren’t color coded?  I thought about spray painting the arms but I expect the paint would eventually flake off (and I am too cheap to purchase four cans of spray paint for such a small job).  So I opted to use some colored electrical tape that I had already.  I was able to mark the sets of arms by color which helps me find the sets...

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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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Christmas List for a Potter

Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Books, Gifts, Holiday, Scale, Tools | 1 comment

During gift-giving season, many people are searching for the perfect present.  So, I have been commissioned by the elves to help.  To that, here are some suggestions that would surely make any potter smile on Christmas morning. Stocking Stuffers: Sherrill Mud tools Dolan Trim tools Metal and Wooden Ribs For the VERY Nice Potter: Wheel Kiln Giffin Grip Under-the-Tree Gifts: Throwing Bats Tile Bat System Clay Scale Set of three sieves Sampler sieves For the Literary Potter: 500 Book Series Subscription to Clay Times Subscription to Pottery Maker’s Illustrated For the Experimental Potter: Glaze Sampler Set MKM Wooden Stamps Gifts that can be bought anywhere: Containers with lids – various sizes Apron Drill with mixer paddle Angle grinder Dremmel Tool Sand paper sponges Buckets Sketch books Camera Kitchen tools – large spoons, spatulas, rolling pin Paint brushes – various sizes Sponges – natural, various sizes Gift Certificates: Bailey Pottery Big Ceramics Store Clay King Local Craft Store Local Art Center (supplies/workshops/classes) You can direct the elves in your life to this entry for quick links or you can print out this Wish List for them to take with them when they go...

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