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Getting Started With Plaster Bats

Aug 17, 2007
Plaster bats are easy to make yourself. This is a valuable project for the beginner because it provides a background of experience for casting and mold-making. Bats can be made in any size, and a variety of sizes are needed. In this article you will find the important steps to make a bat.

Although oilcloth is a satisfactory work surface for the beginner, a plaster bat is much more desirable. It not only provides a sturdier support, but it also keeps objects moist while you are working on them. Unglazed biscuit tiles, 4x4 and 6x6 inches, are adequate for most projects. They may be purchased from a ceramics supply house for a few cents apiece.

A 12-inch pie plate makes an ideal mold for a round plaster bat. The first step in making such a bat is to fill a container with the amount of water that the pie plate will hold. Add powdered plaster of Paris and stir to a molasses consistency. The liquid plaster is now poured into the pie-plate mold. Agitate the plate gently to free the plaster of air bubbles. At least 24 hours will be required for the plaster to set and dry properly.

You follow the same instructions for making a square bat, but instead of using a pie plate you use a square form, perhaps a medium-size cardboard box. The plaster bat is a porous platform on which you can work. By sprinkling it with water as you work, you can keep the piece on which you're working in a moist, plastic state for a long period of time. By the same token, a bat can be used for the reverse purpose to dry a piece of clay which is too moist for immediate work. The porous surface will extract excess moisture from the clay.

Other Materials
A whirler or banding wheel is also a sound investment for the ceramist who has advanced far enough to furnish his own studio. Primarily such a wheel is used for decorating pottery. The top turns freely and so makes it possible for you to rotate your work constantly. By holding a paintbrush against the surface as it spins, you can paint straight and even bands of color on such things as vases and mugs. A whirler can also double as a small potter's wheel for forming pottery pieces and small ceramic figures.

After you have reached the stage where you have made or acquired your own molds, you will need an assortment of heavy rubber bands to hold together multi pieced molds while casting green ware. Cutting cross-sections out of old, discarded inner tubes should supply you with more than enough.

Your studio should also have the aforementioned crocks or large glass jars for holding moist clay and slip. The one-gallon jars used for packing pickles can be utilized for this purpose.

A sieve is also among the much-used workshop implements. The obvious use of the sieve is to strain partially hardened lumps and impurities from slip before pouring it into a mold.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.curtains-n-drapes.com/ , http://www.myceramicstips.info/ , http://www.ezceramicshub.info/
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