Tag Archives: pottery tools

Open Studio Update

Llave bronceSoon I will receive the shipment of keys, skeleton keys won off eBay. They should be here within two weeks. When I was first working with a particular decorative tile, I envisioned how it might look with a skeleton key dangling from it. I speak of the escutcheons that have gone through several incarnations. Recently, my colleague Gary mentioned that they would look good with skeleton keys and it was a nice reality check. So, 30 keys are coming my way. I will figure out how to place them after they arrive, though I have a few ideas. Update: I’ve worked hard and have produced much recently, tiles and necklaces. Along the way, I also developed a touch of something that is this the scourge of potters and ceramists everywhere, carpal tunnel problems caused by overwork. Soon I will have a wrist brace made by an orthotics outfit to wear at night. I am also doing physiotherapy, taking anti-inflammatories, icing, basically doing the RICE or PRICE technique.  My doctor told me things will be on the up and up soon if I take care of it now and follow instructions. I had better listen up, too, because I had another reality check, having worked  with clay last

Wrist stretch

Carpal tunnel stretching exercise, By Mfestejo, via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday and Saturday. My arms felt like they were on fire each time.  My current projects are going to have to be shelved temporarily, so I can take a complete break.  During this time, I will do a few ceramics-related things that won’t involve my wrists. While I continue to be associated with our local art centre, it is time to branch out, to become part of the larger community. To that end, I am going to join some ceramics organizations. I’ve downloaded forms, read policies, like what I see, and will report more after I’m a member. In other news, I hunted for a tool with which to bevel a clay slab and found one! It has a zippy name: The Bevel-O-Matic! It is nice to come across a tool that meets your needs precisely…the Internet is a wonder! This tool is so specialized, it is unlikely I would have found it any other way. As soon as my wrists have improved, I will be back at the tiles. I cut many of them a while back and they are ready and waiting…for me and my beveler. Also, there is a new artist in residence for the ceramics department at the Port Moody Arts Centre. A sculptor, James Kemp is a recent graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He will be overseeing the Tuesday Open Studio group starting tomorrow. Thank  you for your years of service, Ms. Doyle, and welcome, James Kemp….

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Open Studio Report

First unpromising, the day turned out beautifully. I hustled on down to the studio a little after 10 a.m. and began working on tiles. It was laborious work and I seemed to be getting nowhere. If I had not been on autopilot, it would have been exasperating. Then, by chance, I picked up a homely little tool, a plastic soup spoon that just happened to be in my tool case. I used the tip of it for definition and the back to smooth the background of the tile I was working on. Soon, I was feeling greatly relieved. I was able to make progress more quickly with that white plastic spoon than with any other than tool I had in my kit! It worked splendidly. I was reminded of cats: they will often completely ignore real cat toys and play, instead, with a Hershey bar wrapper. Well, that’s what happened with me. Kemper tool? Pffft!  At some point, I broke for coffee and surveyed the scene. I was working on five tiles, at that point. Finished and placed them in the damp room for drying. After we returned from lunch, I completed nine other tiles. Nearly bone dry, they will be fully dry before the next kiln’s loaded. So, all in all, I was industrious, though things started slow. In the back of my mind, I’ve started making plans for glaze treatments on the escutcheon/door plate tiles. I will first experiment on each quarter of a sample tile. I have something particular in mind, but often we’re surprised and something unplanned looks better. Today, I get serious about some stamps I’ve been thinking about,too. I am studying WPA woodblock prints. The rustic look appeals to me and I wonder how a simplified version would translate in clay. I love the backgrounds, created when slivers of wood are strategically left to create visual interest: a thing of beauty. For the rest of the week, I will fully develop some designs and began carving, aiming for a congruent set. The Dover art book/CD-ROM series is inspiring me… Before anything else, I must follow up with WordPress…it was supposed to have completed the switchover during the last 24 hours. That is why I hadn’t posted this a little after midnight, as usual. I wasn’t supposed to within that window. However, the URL remains unchanged. Anyway, after I follow up, I will switch to designs. Oh, some good news! The china cabinet my husband got me for my birthday arrived. It is absolutely gorgeous. It was made to order by Amish woodworkers in Nebraska. Thank you to our neighbor, Robert, for helping Mark lug 300 lbs up 30 stairs and into our home… I have never received such a generous gift and am so touched… And talk about display potential! We finally have a place to store our china appropriately and to display things I have not seen for a good long while. On Canadian Thanksgiving, this weekend, you’ll find me snuggled up on our sofa, a fire burning, with me sipping tea and marvelling over family history, as shown in little bits of clay and glass in our new work of art.

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The satisfaction of homemade and ‘found’ pottery tools

Boy whittling a boat from a piece of wood. Source: Wikimedia Commons

You don’t see much whittling these days, but it used to be a major pastime. I tried my hand at it with my white, pearlized pocket knife. My brothers had jack knives and I bet they learned to whittle with them in Boy Scouts. The same skills can be put to use today to  make your own pottery tools. There is much to be said for a tool you make and use. Aside from sounding like an advertisement for the Simplicity Movement, it’s just plain fun. When you pick up your new tool and begin using it, you might catch yourself thinking, “I made this.” It will give you more satisfaction than money can buy. Take a look at some of the sites below for ideas, diagrams, and photos of projects you can adopt for your own. If you are all thumbs, though, or if tool-making just doesn’t interest you, you can still check out the articles about adapting and adopting every day objects.

Sondahl’s Pottery Tips: “How to make your own wedging table, bats, loop tools, trimming tools, plaster stamps, throwing ribs and sticks, sponge sticks, hole punchers, scrapers, and glaze density tester. Also a practical grinding disk to attach to your wheel head.”

Making Your Own Pottery Tools: The use of Elmer’s glue, credit cards, PVC pipe, toilet bowl brushes, and more. Very inventive and wins the Commonsense Award!

CleanMud: Sponge sticks and slab rolling strips. Homemade wood trimming tools and textured paddles by the same artisan can be found here, too.

Pottery Tools You Can Make: About.com’s DIY page for potters includes links to sites that instruct you how to make wedging tables, hand tools, texture rollers, bats, and cut-off wires. Personally, I am interested in the shrinkage ruler and could really use something like that.

Pottery Throwing Tools: A Guide to Making and Using Pottery Tools for Wheel Throwing: Ceramic Arts Daily will give you this e-book for free if you sign up for their daily e-mail about ceramics. It is well worth it and there are plenty more free e-books to be had through them, too. If you don’t want to give them your personal e-mail address, create a new one through hotmail or gmail and have the messages forwarded to your personal e-mail address by adjusting the preferences to the e-mail program.

Round out your ceramics experience by making a tool and you will feel more invested in your art. If you want handmade tools but simply don’t want to make them yourself, you can find nice, sturdy ones at Jepson Pottery Tools or Brothers Handmade.

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