Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hand Built Tumblers

I'm trying to get into a routine of sticking to a list of ceramic pieces I should make each day. It's easy to get distracted when I go to the college studio. I get interrupted by folks going in and out, then there is kiln firing, classroom maintenance, and lots of other things. I have always known I work well without distractions, so I go the classroom before anyone else gets there. I have found I am very productive when I work alone.

The last couple of days I have actually been able to stick to my list. Wednesday I was supposed to make butter dishes. The butter dishes turned out as cheese keepers, but that's OK because I completed them. Tumblers were next on the list. I made a couple of tumblers yesterday, but quickly realized they were too large in diameter to be functional. Those will probably become vases or canisters.

I am still trying to work out in my mind the shrinkage factor of clay. I come from a background of landscaping and I can easily visualize small plants in the landscape as they'll look when they're full grown. Visualizing clay pieces in their finished state is difficult for me. Yesterday I made two tumblers and later I determined they were much too large in diameter to be a tumbler, so they will be vases or canisters. Today I revised my tumbler pattern and hopefully these will be the perfect size for a tall glass of a person's favorite beverage. I feel as time goes by and I have more experience with clay I will develop "an eye" for what the piece will look like in it's finished state.

Today I went to the college studio and set up a mini assembly line process to make tumblers. I had a time limit so I wanted to be efficient with my production. I rolled six slabs of clay in one direction as thicker slabs, set them aside and then added a shim into the slab roller and rolled the six slabs in the other direction. Next I cut out my pattern on each slab and then textured the slabs with a texture tool. Then I set the slabs aside to firm up a bit. Later I joined the slabs into a cylinder shape and set them aside again to firm up before attaching bottoms. Making six of the same piece is much more efficient than making one at a time.

I'll be setting up a front yard booth for our local apple festival for the next several days, so have a good weekend.


  1. Yes Gary, Sometimes my posts aren't too clear, I'll be selling some of my ceramics. Oh, that reminds me I wanted to make some cards to put my pendants on. thx.

  2. I know what you mean about keeping to a schedule and being distracted. I need to take a good look at my list of items that I want to make for the potters guild show again. I think I'm behind.

    Your tumblers look great too - I really love hand building!

    Good luck with the apple festival and booth!

  3. Hi Cynthia, I am learning to become more organized and make some lists. I used to let the wind blow me but now I see I can still be creative and have lists. I find making the lists at home at my desk and not near the clay is helpful to me - it someone makes me more objective and then I can take the list with me to the studio and work from that.

    Thanks, I love hand building myself. It is more time consuming than throwing, but there is just something about it.

  4. Hi Linda! You and Cynthia (Colorado Art Studio) are inspiring me to do slab work!... I have to make the decision about whether or not to move my slab-roller from Bakersfield to Cambria. I think I'd better!!!

  5. Hi Patricia, I find hand building challenging, sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding. If you spend more time in Cambria, then I think the move would be a good one.


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