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 batt and tile marked to help maintain orientation

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.

Mark on giffin grip for re-alignment

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 trimming.