Friday, December 3, 2010

End of the Week + Dromedary Potterary.

Happy Friday, everyone!  I'm going to make this a brief as possible, for my own sake.  Because while Friday doesn't mean much to those currently underemployed, it does mean something to my wife.  So, I'm going to type really quickly (as quickly as I possibly and accurately can!) and you read it really quickly and I'll try to use a spare amount of short words, rather than the usual copious verbosity I tend toward.  By doing all these things, we'll be done in no time at all.  Ready?  Let's go!

I hunkered down into my studio for a few hours this afternoon to get back to work on my test-bowls, etc.  But perhaps I should rewind for a moment, and share that I spent some time in the studio yesterday, too.  I actually didn't do any throwing, but I did trim all my little bowls fom the other day.  I also committed myself to the grueling task of making slip.  Painful, but necessary.  So that's (mostly) what happened in the studio yesterday.  Trimmed, slipped, trimmed, slipped.  I was able to come back to the bowls in the evening after the slip had dried and carved them while finishing up Season 2 of Lie to Me on Netflix with my darling.  It's awful nice to be able to do that sort of multitasking.  I think there may be more of it in the future, as long as Krystal allows it.  Also, Lie to Me is brilliant, if not a little too intense for regular enjoyable viewing immediately before bed.
Note blue-slipped bowls in there.  Fun, huh?
Let's track back to today, now.  Before I got all messy and clay covered I committed a little bit of time to making my own little basement corner studio a little bit more comfortable.  I've got some nifty little cork boards with pictures of friends and family and pots and stuff like that.  It's much more pleasant than staring at the whitewashed foundation.  So maybe it's also a little sappy, but I like it.  And that's what matters.
So much cozier now.
Then it was time to get back into the throwing.  Of course, a kiln full of testwares wouldn't be any good without a few of my interior-decorated bowls, so I made a few of those.  I may add another three to the mix, just to make sure I get a couple results for each glaze tested on them.  
Blue slip!  Feels like home.
Two more for the road.
 After that it was back to the little bowls.  For efficiency's sake I went back to throwing off the hump on today's batch, and I remembered to document it, photojournalist style.  I now present to you Dromedary Potterary a.k.a. Camel Pottery a.k.a. Throwing Off a Hump.  Get it? 

To begin with, the basic idea of throwing off of a hump is this: rather than centering a new ball of clay for every piece, you start with one larger amount of clay (the hump) and throw smaller pieces from the top portion of said hump, cutting them off and recentering as needed until all the clay has been used.  This works very well for some things (small bowls, for example) and not so well for others (large platters and floor vases come to mind).  Follow along with the pictures to see it in action!
I started today with a little over nine pounds of clay.  I've already thrown a few bowls at this point.  While it's helpful to have the bulk of the clay mass well centered, you can be a little more lax with it at the start, as the only clay you really work with at any one time is the bit right at the top.
To start a new bowl, I centered the top bit of the clay - roughly the amount I think I want to work into a bowl.  By collaring in a pretty narrow amount, it helps to make sure there's not too much clay in the foot when it's cut off the hump.
After centering the top "bulb" of clay on the hump, I proceed like normal, opening, pulling, and shaping the bowl.  If you'd like to see the entire process of throwing a bowl, you can check it out in this post I wrote here.
This is just me ribbing out the bowl, from a different vantage point.  Note the nice shape of the foot on top of the hump, much as it would appear right on the bat.

To remove the bowl from the hump, I use the dull edge of a knife, cutting off enough clay to put a reasonable foot on the bowl.  This step comes as about the one piece of technical pottery advise my Uncle Tim ever gave me, was to use a knife to get pots off the hump.  I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to do it, but Tim told me that a very dull knife was the best tool for the job.  I cut in while the wheel turns, easing the knife toward the center in so as not to displace too clay matter.
Voila, a bowl on a knife! Ready to be set aside to dry for trimming!

Today's bowls.  Nine pounds yielded ten bowls today, which is a pretty good ratio.
There you have it.  It's not a perfect method.  The transfer on the knife blade is a little touchy - much more likely to end up with a warped rim, or just not quite round bowl.  But the efficiency in production sure makes up for any effort that might be lost on a piece that doesn't turn out just right.  It's a hard balance to find, but that's the way it goes sometimes.  In the meantime, it's a perfect method for turning out dozens of little bowls for testing glazes on. 

That is officially it from me for this week.  I shall catch you on the flipside.

1 comment:

Mr. Young said...

Lookin Good! You'll be filling shelves again in no time! Great bowls!