Monday, January 14, 2019

Oh, the Glamor!

One of the most basic parts of being a potter is the tools you use to make your pottery. Some of the tools are expensive but easy to make yourself, in the sense that they're not complicated.

Plaster bats are on this list. Get yourself a five-gallon plastic bucket from your local hardware store, some potter's plaster from your ceramics supply store (it only costs a few bucks!), some plastic plant dishes from your local garden store and some water, and you're in business! 
Plaster bats are one of the potter's go-to tools. They enable us to throw certain kinds of forms, such as plates, without running the risk of warping or destroying the form when we take it off the wheel head.
We fasten the plaster bat, which is like a thick disc of plaster, to the wheel head with a bit of wet, sloppy clay. The plaster absorbs the water and helps it to stick and stay put. Then we can throw low, wide forms such as plates on the bat without having to cut it from the wheel head because the plaster will absorb the moisture from the clay evenly and the plate will just pop off evenly, without warping, when it's ready.
Making bats is messy and time-consuming, and frankly, I hate doing it! But I couldn't justify packing my bats and driving them down from Folsom to LA when they're heavy and very likely to break along the way. I gave them away to a nearby school so they could replace some of their old ones which had gotten chipped.
After rubbing the plaster through my hands into a bucket in order to get rid of the lumps, I started mixing the plaster by hand, paying special attention to getting it smooth.
When it was ready, I poured it into my plastic dishes and left it to set.
 After I poured them, a little jiggle here and there helped get some of the air bubbles out. 
Immediate cleanup is key. I had a bunch of old newspapers handy to wipe out the bucket because if you throw plaster down the sink, it will set and wreck your plumbing! I poured the leftover plaster into some newspaper and let it set before throwing it out.

I'm really glad I finally decided to bite the bullet and get it done. Now I can get some more variety in my work!

1 comment:

  1. You must be so excited to be restarting your clay adventures.
    Congratulations! Good luck! And all that jazz!


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