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Potters Tips

If you are slab building, try using a scalpel for cutting your clay.  It eliminates the problem of ‘dragging’ the edge of the clay.  It will quickly go blunt but this doesn’t matter.

If you use a cloth for rolling clay you can sometimes have problems with stretching and therefore creasing when it gets wet.  Using the reverse side of PVC coated tablecloth fabric solves the problem.  It is also much easier to wash.

Mark Dally recommended using wooden ‘yardsticks’ as rolling guides.  He finds that they are a very good thickness and having  the measurements printed on them a bonus. Available form hardware stores or builders merchants.

He also uses a roofers square as it is larger than a setsquare very thin and again has the measurements printed on both faces. Available as above (£8.99 from Screwfix - Ed.).

The perfect ‘newspaper’ for making paper resist shapes he finds to be pages from old style (before colour) telephone directories.

Tip from an American Website

If you like to make brushwork on your work, you know that brushes from pottery suppliers can be expensive, but cheap brushes don't make the beautiful fluid lines that most potters are after.  

Just buy some cheap brushes and trim them.

Leave enough hairs in the centre to give you a fine fluid line and the bulk of the hairs at the base of the brush to hold your slip or glaze.

When I make lidded forms the lid sometimes gets a bit stuck after the glaze firing.  If this happens I have found that putting the piece in the freezer for a few hours and then wrapping it with a tea towel and giving a few gently but firm taps with a piece of wood on the rim - normally helps to dislodge - just be careful not the tap too hard…..Jojo Rowley

How to reconstitute a bag of hard clay the easy way.

If you have a bag or block of hard clay that has gone rock hard here is an easy way to reconstitute it.

Get a large bag (The clay bag may be OK) and make sure that there are no holes in it by testing it with some water inside to make sure that it doesn't leak. Pour the water out. Put the block of clay in the bag, add approximately 250- 300 ml of water. Place the bag in a bin with enough water to cover the bag. Placing the bag in the water will force any air out. Seal the bag tightly by twisting the top and secure with either wire or an elastic band to make sure that no air can get in. Leave the bag in the container of water for about two weeks. Over time the pressure of the water in the container will slowly force the water in the bag into the hard clay. This method also works on a bag of clay that is firmer than you would like to work with. Just add less water and check the consistency of the clay every two to three days until it is at the consistency that you would like to work with.                             

Angela Wathen

Hanging Birdbath Design

My daughter asked me recently to make her a bird bath- hanging so as to be out of reach of the dogs and cat! I enjoyed working out how to make it and was pleased with the result. To make it I threw a bowl, leaving enough clay in the middle to make a cylinder which I closed in to make a perch for the birds to land on. When leather hard, I turned the base of the bowl to make a continuous curved shape. Because the perch was the same height as the rim of the bowl, it helped to support the bowl during turning. I then applied white slip, paper bird stencils stuck with water and then blue slip, before removing the stencils. I glazed the inside and bottom of the bowl, leaving the rim and perch unglazed. Because I raw glaze, I did this before cutting holes for the three metal hooks (from B&G) using a template to get them spaced evenly and a hole to allow air to escape from inside the perch. The birdbath was then fired on its rim, with the perch again helping to support it.                 

Martin Tyler        

A quick glance in my studio will show that I make use of a large number of kitchen implements (pizza cutter, lemon zester, etc, etc).  However with something of a food fixation during home isolation, I discovered that a pair of wooden rolling guides are invaluable for making hasselback potatoes.  Pop a salad potato between the guides, slice down to the guide in 3mm slices, rub with oil and bake for 35-40mins until crispy.

When transporting a raw glazed pot, try spraying the glazed pot with hair spray. Leave to dry and then pack carefully with either bubble wrap or a very soft cloth. Avoid rubbing or cramming the pots together in whichever vessel you are transporting your pots in. I found this useful when transporting glazed pots for Raku firing.                        

Angela Wathen

Nail buffer abrasive sanding blocks for greenware only. Great for getting rid of burrs, finger marks or little imperfections. Won’t leave marks like some sand paper. These are great to hold, cheap and come in different sizes and shapes. Beware a mask must be worn if you use one of these blocks on clay. Widely available on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.

Photographing your work:

Here is what works for me on a bright morning!

Table top backdrop and stand for taking photos with a neutral background. Place the backdrop on a table with a window behind you as you are facing the work to be photographed; so you get bright natural light on your work. Avoid full sun (easy at the moment!).

Take pictures with your phone with the flash off. You can adjust the brightness of your image on your phone if the image is a bit grey.

Links below.

Selens 60x40-75cm Stand Support Retractable Support Stand with Bracket and Clips for Background Photography https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N4OZLOM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_T3E5H4MAQS43TPR878VV?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Jo Hannah

Selens Portable Photography Backdrop Matte & Smooth PVC Background 60 * 130cm/24 * 52 inch White for Product Shooting https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01CZM177K/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_GHH6AJGVVVAM38GQGJZ2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1