One of the things you do when throwing pottery is make lots of wet clay. Something goes wrong on the wheel? Wet clay. Trimming a partially finished piece? Semi-wet clay. Just throwing in general? You'll wipe excess clay onto the rim of your water bowl regularly and get...wet clay.
The good news is all that wet clay is reclaimable. You just dump it in a bucket with water (wetter clay!) and let it get really juicy. Then you put it on plaster blocks and let water evaporate until the clay is back to a workable state. Wedge it and use it again. Very little waste in pottery - at least until you get a piece out of the kiln and realize you hate the glaze you put on it. That's a different story though.
We'd been drying the clay on our marble wedging table but that wasn't working very well. For one thing, it ate up way too much space. When all that clay was spread out you couldn't use the table for anything else. So Chris decided to make up some plaster blocks of our own.
A quick trip to HD netted some plaster of paris powder (much cheaper than the stuff sold at craft stores) and I sacrificed a cake pan that I didn't like but that just happened to be the exact size needed to fit perfectly on the wheel. See, as long as he was going to be playing with plaster blocks he figured he'd make some actual bats as well. He'd read that if you used a plaster bat you didn't need to actually cut your work off the bat to dry it. You just let it dry right on the bat and the plaster would wick the moisture away from the bottom. When ready to trim, just pop it off. We'll see how that goes and report back later.
He mixed up a bunch of plaster in the famous 5-gallon bucket. Man these things are handy. Put a good coating of petroleum jelly on the pan as a releasing agent, and poured it in.
|Looks like cake batter, doesn't it?|
|Getting it all out.|
So Chris cut the edges of the pan and and hinged it open. That worked!
|You can just see the cut line at about 1 o'clock|
|He used electrical tape to hold the pan together.|
|Potential press molds|
|Making a grab handle|