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a beginner's tricks

updated wed 18 mar 98


Janet Price on tue 17 mar 98

Over the last couple of years I've discovered a few beginner's tricks
and picked up a few from friends that I'd like to pass along in return
for the glazes and tips I've picked up here.

1) A tennis ball works very nicely to smooth out the inside of a bowl
in a mold. It has no edges, doesn't stick to the clay, and leaves no
perceptible texture.

2) I have a relatively small kiln. If I have no room for a small piece
or a tile on a shelf, I sometimes find I can fit a post in and then balance
the tile on the post. I do this a lot with test tiles.

3) About a year ago I discovered that when my hands caught while
throwing, it was almost always on the inside of the pot and that if I
trickle water only on the _inside_ of the pot before a pull, it doesn't go
all over the place and I'm not covered with water and slip. (I mop up
anything sitting in the bottom of the pot before pulling up.) I felt
really dumb that I didn't think of this sooner. It seems so obvious.

4) My ceiling fan does a wonderful job of drying pots I've just thrown
quickly and evenly. It's much more gentle and less directional than a
window fan. It took me a year to think of this.

5) Foam brushes work better for waxing feet than ones with bristles.

6) One of the things I've enjoyed making over the last couple of years
has been tiles with stamps from natural objects.
I like making stamps of objects rather than pressing the
objects into clay, because then I get a positive image that comes out of
the clay like a cameo, and the detail is much more interesting. You
often can't tell if a stamp works without trying it, because you can't
see the detail in the impressed image.

For those of you who are interested in textures, then--the
cross-section of an ear of corn makes a nice flower image.
The underside of leaves is usually more interesting than the top. Drying
fruits or vegetables for a few days sometimes accentuates the interior
form. But it didn't help with a slice of a tomato. A slice of lime, yes.
Round stamps work nicely in allover designs because they fit
together like hexagons.

Hope some of you find this useful. And thanks to everyone who has
posted stuff that I've found useful.
Janet Price, Chief Information Officer
Carroll College, Waukesha WI 53186 or