Monday, September 19, 2005

Trimming Vases

Woke up this morning with a pain in my right hand. The joint at the base of my middle finger was sore, and I had a hard time closing my hand. By the end of my day at work, I hurt from the joint of the middle finger, through the base of the palm, and then traveling down the inside of my wrist to mid-forearm.

I don't know if its from pottery, or from my overweight laptop from work that I had to lug around this weekend.

This evening, after work, I checked the pots in the damp box. I dragged my finger along the side of each piece, at the base of the foot. A smear of clay came off each piece, but it formed a stiff little cylinder when I rolled the smear between my fingers and thumb (which hurt, of course, since the finger of choice for such an operation is my middle finger).

Our damp box is a heavy set of plasic shelves. We have three sets of the shelves in the studio. One set, the damp box, has a vinyl cover for it, with a set of zippers on the front. The idea is that pieces will dry slowly in the damp box, so that a piece can be put in the box for a day or two unwrapped, and then be ready for trimming.

I started with Julie's vases, and first placed them upright on the wheel head and centered them. I had had to throw them a little heavy; there was a lot of extra clay in the walls of the piece going down to the foot to support the curves in the walls. The extra clay has to be trimmed off. Usually, you flip the piece over and place it top down on the wheel head to trim the foot. The upper walls, shoulder, and rim were delicate enough that I was afraid that the piece wouldn't bear the weight of all the clay, so I centered them upright to thin out the walls near the foot before trimming the foot itself. Once centered, I rotated the wheel head, and ran my finger along the seam where the foot of the piece met metal; the clay smeared sufficiently to make it airtight all the way around, which seals it to the wheel head. Its not a stable as placing clay lugs (three butresses of clay, 120 degrees apart) around the piece, but it conserves clay (no butress) as long as you don't push too hard against the side of the piece, or catch too much clay in a trimming tool. I broke out my trimming tools, and got to work.

Everything trimmed fine. I alternated between having my glasses on an off, depending whether I was working on the foot or the sides of the vase. Since the pieces were thrown heavy, I had had to trim the sides about halfway up the pieces to give the curve that I wanted. Julie is planning to carve her pieces, and then put little dragon sculptures on them. Once I had the pot mostly in the shape that I wanted, I'd stop the wheel, flip the pot, recenter, then hold it in place with lugs while I put a foot on it. Once done, each piece was moved removed from the wheel, but left inverted the allow the soft foot to dry out a bit.

I trimmed my raku pieces as well. Once finished, everything made it back into the damp box, but this time I wrapped all the pieces in some plastic that my shirts come back from the dry-cleaners in (note: we need to either dry clean more shirts, or find a different source of plastic. )


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