Saturday, September 10, 2005

Back in the Studio

Got back into the studio today.

I threw a small rocket, and a half dozen walnut-half sized cups for engine bells. I also threw a chuck, a tall cylinder with concave walls, without a bottom. I put the rocket in the chuck nose first in order to trim the foot of the rocket body. Once I finish carving on the rocket, the body goes, nose first, back into the chuck, and I attach the fins and engines. The piece is also fired in the chuck. Once it is bisqued, the clay is strong enough for the rocket to stand on its fins.

Julie helped me clear off the slab roller set up out in the garage, and stitched some canvas scraps together to roll out a slab for the fins. I built the slab roller a couple of years ago, when Julie was the ceramics instructor at a day camp. Its made of square steel tubing, plywood, some iron pipe, and a couple of cables.

I threw with Standard Clay's raku clay. It has more grog, heavy particles of fired clay, in it than the other clays that I throw with, which enables it to survive the thermal shock of being pulled orange hot out of a kiln and dropped into a bucket of shredded newspaper. The grog gives the clay 'tooth', which is sort of like stiffness, so that the walls of a piece can be pushed further out before they collapse. A clay like porcelain has almost no tooth, and is like throwing with cream cheese. Raku clay is more coarse and gritty. As the wheel turns, you can feel the grog on the wheel head scratching at the base of your hand which is resting there.

Tomorrow, I trim, carve, and assemble the rocket.


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