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Useful Accessories For Ceramic Work

Aug 17, 2007
When you're building up your ceramics workshop you're going to need a litany of tools including a wedging wire, wedging board and soft hair brushes for decorating your work. Though these tools are important, there are other tools that will help you create wonderful ceramics including plaster bats and banding wheels.

A plaster bat is much more desirable work surface for beginners than an oilcloth. 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.

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.

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 greenware. Cutting cross-sections out of old, discarded innertubes should supply you with more than enough.

Your studio should also have 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.

Closely resembling the strainer is the scratch-box, which is used for a much different purpose: to level the irregular edges of pottery. A scratch-box can be quickly made by nailing together four 18-inch boards to form a box. Across the top, tack down a sheet of grit cloth. By holding a piece of greenware perpendicular to the cloth abrasive, and carefully rubbing it across the surface, you can even up the bottoms and tops of pottery.

If you want to get the most out of your tools, you should take good care of them. Keep them clean. Don't leave them soaking in water but wipe them with a damp cloth and then dry them thoroughly. Metal tools should periodically be wiped with an oil-soaked cloth to prevent rusting. Plaster surfaces such as bats and wedging boards should be kept dry and clean. When you are through with them, you should wipe them dry with a damp sponge to remove clay particles.

All tools deserve good treatment and any ceramist worthy of the name has as much respect for his tools as for the clay.
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