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SydneyGee

Can Heavy Hand-Built Forms Be Lightened?

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We seem to be so obsessed with light wheel-thrown forms. Even the "it should feel as expected" thrown forms are still somewhat light. While hand-building to me is so heavy. Even a simple mug feels like a work out to use, but I love the look so much. Is there a technique to trim an asymmetrical form? Or do you just deal with the weight?

 

 

 

 

 

Green_Footed_Mug.jpg

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Love the mug. The only thing to do is carve off more clay if there is excess. I often hand build things with a thicker bottom so they will support the upper sections and then carve away excess later. I don't use armatures much but probably should learn. Rakuku

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i feel some things need the weight.

 

are you talking about functional ware?

 

but if you are comparing a wheel thrown cup with a handbuilt cup the weight should not be different.

 

a slab cup is easier to handle the weight. a pinchpot cup requires more trimming usually with a surform or toothed rib. 

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i feel some things need the weight.

 

are you talking about functional ware?

 

but if you are comparing a wheel thrown cup with a handbuilt cup the weight should not be different.

 

a slab cup is easier to handle the weight. a pinchpot cup requires more trimming usually with a surform or toothed rib. 

 

Yes, functional ware. We have a few advanced students whose wheel thrown work is perfectly light, almost too light, and of the handbuilt items I have felt they are just so heavy! Even in ceramic stores I have frequented, the wheel thrown form can obviously vary in weight, however the handbuilt is always so much more weighted. Is it that hard to trim down? Or is it neglect to lighten? 

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maybe it is because some people think anything thinner than one quarter inch is too likely to break.  not so.  my stuff starts off at just under 1/4 and then i impress heavily textured things into it.  the final cut to shape the piece is done later and by then the work is much thinner.  still very strong.  tossing out a finished piece involves hitting it with a hammer because dropping into the trash and dropping a second piece on top does not do it.

 

i think working with such thick slabs is very difficult, they will not bend into a 90 degree corner and sometimes split when asked to do tight curves.

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I believe that there are other factors to consider when throwing forms for functional use, whether a mug, lowly baking dish, or any other pot to be used with hot or cold. Is insulation important? How about the simple cup that is held in the hands, or a unomi, should this be thrown with with an eye towards insulating the hand? Baking dishes are another area where I question the logic of thinness, where being able to distribute heat evenly in the dish for the food in it is important. At the same time, I love to see paper thin porcelain lanterns used as decoration on tables or mantles. So really thinking through what your intent is as far as the usefulness of the pot in its functional state is important.

 

 

just my personal opinion,

best,

Pres

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I agree wth Pres. some forms work better a little heavier. When I started making mugs I played around with several different wall thicknesses. I tested to see how long liquid stayed hot in them. I found thinner walls meant the liquid cooled off faster. Hence I make my mugs just a tad thicker than other forms. That said I think, like old lady my thickest piece starts at 3/16 of an inch and gets textured and formed from there ending up thinner. My thinnest is probably a 1/16 of an inch for jewelry pieces since I want those as thin and light as possible. I think the form really decides how thin or thick a piece should be.

 

T

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however the handbuilt is always so much more weighted. Is it that hard to trim down? Or is it neglect to lighten? 

 

i assume in general you are running across hb being heavier i would say its the time factor. pinch and coil stuff need to be trimmed. not so much slab work (at least in my experience).

 

i would imagine if those were going to be hand trimmed to perfection they would cost more which i see in some of the well known potters etsy shop.

 

having said that i find that after throwing on the wheel i really prefer hand trimming. nothing about thinness - just personal aesthetics. esp in a mug form. mine still need trimming. havent perfected the art of throwing perfect yet. 

 

having said that i recently held a huge 16 inch pitcher by Mark Hewitt in my hand and i was blown away by how light it was. totally made sense since it was going to hold a large amount of water. boy it feels good to hold a 'perfect' piece of work with not a smidgen of extra clay. i also held a large cup by sunshine cobb and a small Otto yunomi and while their lightness impressed me it was the feeling of the perfectly thrown form that blew me away. i have held a few other perfectly thrown pieces (famous and not) where some of the work was heavier. still the even walled was what blew me away. 

 

the breakfast cup that i grew up with and really like is the same shape as a soup cup here. i make the tea cup lighter and the soup cup a little thicker.

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So how thick do you all roll your slabs for handbuilt mugs? I was starting at 3/8 inches and texturing a bit thinner, but they still feel heavy. I would never throw a mug that thick!

Nancy

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Nancy, I start at 3/16 for mugs (and all my forms actually) and then texture, shape, form etc. I only ever do 3/8 if I am making a bisque mold or press mold as that is quite thick.

 

T

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Preeta: I agree with you on the thickness depends on the forms function. I throw my personal mugs slightly thicker to hold warmth longer. My serving dishes I want to be much thinner as they will hold lots of food. The cups I make are still too thick for my liking, however, when I compare them to manufactured cups of the same size they weigh about the same. 

 

 

 

So how thick do you all roll your slabs for handbuilt mugs? I was starting at 3/8 inches and texturing a bit thinner, but they still feel heavy. I would never throw a mug that thick!
Nancy

 

Our slab roller at school goes about 3/8". Most students just roll it once and do no further trimming. I have yet to see the professor trim theirs either, maybe is it just for demonstration sake. I agree as well, I would not be happy with something decently small that thick!

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Nancy, I start at 3/16 for mugs (and all my forms actually) and then texture, shape, form etc. I only ever do 3/8 if I am making a bisque mold or press mold as that is quite thick.

T

Ah, thank you!

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Revelation: I made some slab projects that I did not hate. I decided to take a break from the wheel and so some slab work with "personality". I wanted character in the piece, and challenged myself to get the forms as thin as possible, while adding texture, movement, and a solid base. I am really drawn to the look and feel of slab work as I have mentioned in other posts, but the weight always irritated me, as I was never sure of how to trim.

 

So instead of using our slab roller, I used corn starch and a rolling pin and rolled the slab the the thickness I wanted, with one piece I got less than 1/8th thick with no cracking, warping, or slumping! It was also fun finishing a piece in one sitting, adding the handle, base, and attachments took several hours, but it was a fun and gregarious setting while I chatted with other students. Thank you all so much for your encouragement, challenges, and ideas! It really brought me to try slab again.

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