John Rodgers on tue 7 nov 06
For a number of years I used plastic and wood bats driven by the bat
pins on the wheel head. Somewhere on the journey through clay, I heard
about using plaster bats and that plaster bats had the unique feature of
self release of the pot - no more cut-off wire needed. I tried it and
the story was true. I found that the drying action by the plaster on the
bottom of the pot reduced bottom cracking as well. I have been using
plaster bats ever since.
I purchased a "Pure and Simple" bat making system from Axner, and have
used it ever since. The bat making system came with a "key" disk to
drive the bats and that disk is installed to the wheel head using the
"cap screw" bat pins that came with my wheel head. Since I began using
this system, I have since built other molds and forms from which to make
a variety of bats of different sizes all the way up to 24 inches. Every
single one uses the drive key to form the back side of the bat. The
result is a bat that has a recess in it that fits exactly on the key
way, and it is ever so simple just to drop the bat on the key way, and
it drops right in place. No muss, no fuss, no struggling to find the
blasted pin hole in the bat with the bat pin on the wheel head. No
mucking clay to get the bat to stick to the wheel head. That bat fits
only one way, and one way only. It simply drops in place.
It has often been said "Well, I don't want plater chips in my clay!".
Won't say it won't happen, but I have never had that problem, in all
this time in using them.
I make big platters. I use those 24 inch plaster bats, and I pull the
clay rim of the platters out beyond the edge of the 24 inch bat.
Shrinkage upon drying reduces the diameter of the platter to a point it
will fit the kiln. Those big 24 inch bats are "Oh, so sweet", because of
the self release feature. of plaster. On the old plastic bats I used to
use, I had to cut repeatedly with the cutoff wire during drying, and it
always dried unevenly, resulting often in cracks and warps. I never have
a platter that sticks to the plaster bat and cracks just don't happen.
The plaster provides for uniform absorption of the moisture from the
bottom of the platter, and therefore shrinkage is uniform, thus
eliminating the prospects for cracking.
Plaster bats are not without their drawbacks, however. They are thick,
heavy, take up more space for storage. But, they are ever so easy to
use, make clean easy self releases of the pot, and are so easy to align
on the wheel head.
There are a number of plaster bat systems out there. The "Pure and
Simple" is one, Jeppeson has another. I am sure there are others.
If you have never used plaster bats, you might give them a try. They are