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slab bowls.

updated sun 15 nov 98


Janet H Walker on sat 14 nov 98

Joyce, bless her heart, asked:

...How DO you make the rims on slab bowls "nice and even," and how
do you form the bottom foot ring without making it two inches high
(got THAT one down)? How thick do you make those slabs? I would
post this direct because Jan often advises me, but think others
might like to know, also.

Geez, Joyce. Ya got me in a tough spot here. What I actually said
was "I have a hard enough time getting the rims nice and even" which
I suppose COULD be interpreted as meaning that I claim to actually
achieve getting the rims nice and even... If only... Still puzzling
over this one.

I make slabs that are about 1/4" to 5/16" thick, using a slab roller.
I leave them to set up for at least a day or so, between pieces of that
building foam insulation stuff. According to ?Gavin I think and some
others, this sitting time helps the clay forget that it was stretched
so much and the particles rerandomize. Anyhow this is probably
irrelevant but I was thinking about it today, thinking about what it
feels like to be a clay particle and get oriented to all the other
neighboring particles. But I continue to digress.

Once I've cut the piece I want, I round the rim somehow, often using
one of the wooden Jepson tools that you've all seen in the ads in
CM. They work OK but it would be better to carve your own if you
can, to get one that produces the curve you actually want for the
thickness of slab you have. I leave the flat slab sitting on its
piece of newspaper on drywall and run the tool around the perimeter
of the slab, with one side of it pressed firmly against the drywall.
You have to get the angle just right in order to just bevel the rim
the right amount or to gouge out a defining line the same depth all
the way around.

Usually I want to refine the rim again after I've shaped the pot and
let it stiffen up enough. I've used a piece of clam shell that was
handy and (my favorite) a piece cut out of one of those lightweight
credit cards -- not the *real* AmEx Gold but the membership from the
public radio station kind of card. They scrape off odd bits of clay
really nicely without messing up the surface. The rim usually wants
thumbing smooth and compressing after that. Teflon tools are really
nice for smoothing because they press any grog underneath the
surface. I know other people use sponges but those have the effect
of raising grog instead so I don't do that. do you form the bottom foot ring...

What bottom foot ring? Joyce, my dear, get a GRIP (tm?) Sometimes
I put little interesting button type feet on things but usually just
fire on stilts. Or leave the bottom bare. I do know people who
turn their slab plates upside down on foam on a bat, attach a coil,
and throw a foot. Those look pretty classy. On the other hand,
what's wrong with a two inch high foot? Rather an unusual design
feature, wouldn't you say?

Well, don't blame me, you asked!!
Jan Walker
Cambridge MA USA