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Qotw: Do You Wedge? What Style? Ramshead, Spiral, Wire And Slam, Pugmill, Etc. Why? Do You Also Orientate The Spiral Shape To The Rotation Of Your Whe

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This week from the question bang has fewer choices to choose from, What asks: Do you wedge? What style? Ramshead, spiral, wire and slam, pugmill, etc. Why? Do you also orientate the spiral shape to the rotation of your wheel?

 

 

Myself, I find that I have a tendency to do Spiral, Ramshead, and wire and slam. I most times just before throwing use the Spiral or cone wedging, this for me is very good for the clay, and for the throwing, and for me. It helps me stretch my back and muscles. At the same time I do place the clay aligned to the cone on the wheel-spiral rising from the wheel to the top of the cone.

 

I have taught Rams head, and use it occasionally, however, it is well worth the effort to learn how to spiral as it is less energy. . .especially for large pieces.  

 

Cut and slam, ya I recycle clay, and use this technique after well slaked clay has stiffened. My favorite ways of removing excess water from slaking it down are either an open bag in the Summer, then putting it on water proof drywall to set some more. In Winter, nothing better works than allowing clay to freeze, and then thaw with the water dripping off. Then I the sides inward for first few slams, then the bread thickness pieces to finish out. If I need more water in the body I "knuckle punch the clay, add spray layer of water, place next piece on without splattering me. Continue til the whole loaf is done and turn to reshape and do again. . . usually about 10 times, then Spiral or cone. 

 

best,

Pres

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Ramshead before pinching, coiling or rolling.

 

Cut and slam to mix soft and hard clay, or to wake up clay that feels too hard to work with.

 

Before throwing?  Hummmmm, if i could throw .............

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It really depends on the condition of the clay. Fresh out of the bag porcelain...before out of the bag, I drop each side onto the floor twice. That softens it up. Then, if the outside it still a little stiffer, I cut and slam. Then Spiral wedge. I am left handed , so my clay is sprialed in the same direction of the wheel. Not sure whether that matters or not.

Marcia

Pres likes this

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I tried a few times to learn spiral wedge but I just can't get the movement right, I'd need someone to actually teach me for a solid hour before I could get it right ^^.

So I do ramshead wedging, with new clay or recycled clay. My teacher taught me to always be careful when slamming the clay on the wheel about the direction but I have seen lots of people just shaping the clay into a ball and slamming it, so does it actually make any difference?

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I slam my bags of clay, I work with Cone 6 clay and you need to slam the bags first to soften them before you can work with it.  I do a quick spiral wedge out of a fresh bag of clay, wrist are to far gone to throw with recycle clay.  I can use it for coil and slab work.  Denice

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I have never learned to wedge properly, when I try I wedge air bubbles INTO it. There are some things that it is just very difficult to learn from watching videos and this is one of them for me. 

Currently I use a cube of clay fresh out of the bag, cut off, then slammed and rotated over and over and rounded until it's a ball with even moisture. So far with the clay bodies I use I have had good results with this, no S-cracks etc. If I was using porcelain I would have no choice but to wedge. So I don't use porcelain!  :P

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Depends on the clay.

If I'm throwing my beloved cheapo Spanish terracotta, I don't wedge at all, just use it straight out of the bag. The stuff is so processed that it simply doesn't need anything at all, except a couple of up-and-down cones on the wheel for larger pieces.

The stoneware clay I use does benefit from a minute or two of kneading, bulls-head style. That's the way I was taught, so that's what I do.

Any clay to be re-cycled (or grog/chamotte added) gets wired and slammed until vaguely uniform, then bulls-head kneaded.

That's it.

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I used to only use ram's head then started doing spiral with some cut & slam. On fresh clay I wake it up patting & rolling on the work bench & shape with my hands to make a ball. I throw both stoneware & porcelain.

Joy

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I was doing stack and slam as my routine practice, until a week ago after I left a large wet rag on the base. The base is steel. A friend made the set-up for me, using the metal, so I had to just say "thank you" and get over it, grateful that I had something to use that is efficient and easier on my body.  

 

Now the huge corroded area will never be truly gone, so unless I want to cultivate some rusty creative effect in fired clay, I will not be wedging my pricey precious porcelain on that board!  Second choice is spiral, which is what I had always done before discovering Michael Wendt's technique. I might use rams head on small quanitites for wheel work, reverting back to the 1st method learned. Actually, because my style is to "let live" the inherent properties of the clay and to introduce cracks, holes, warps, etc., I rarely wedge at all, depending on the nature of the piece. 

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I started off cone wedging clay because that is what I was taught. I currently use ramshead wedging. I find that this method is very efficient. I also wedge three pounds or so at a time when I do cups or smaller forms. I slap the clay on the table 4 or five time to lengthen it and cut into thirds. I do orientate the direction of the spiral of the wedging action to the rotation of the wheel. I push a finger in the top so I know it is the top. I have been doing this for more than ten year I just seemed to make sense. I don't feel like it makes much of a difference for throwing but I cant shake the habit now (it would be almost taboo for me). I have found a couple of other potters that do this as well. I do cut and slam for the start of reclaim if I do reclaim at all. I have always loved the look of spiral wedging but never mastered the technique.  

 

Thanks for using my question. Good to read everyone's responses

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my very old hands and wrists like my bailey pugmill.  the pugs come out and i stuff them into a bucket.  i do not weigh things, just eyeball a length of pug.  then whack it with the whammerdammer and it sticks to the bat nicely.  i throw soft clay and use very little water so the only thing i have to care about is the softness of the clay.  i like the fact that if i make 6-7 sticks of clay and do not use them all, i can toss them into the pugmill another day and start again.  i throw only with pugged clay, the flat things are straight out of the bag new clay smashed flat and slabrolled into submission.

 

i think i have said before that i am the most fortunate person i know.

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Fresh out of the bag from a supplier i don't wedge, just cut a block and round it into a cone shape on my wedging board. Recycled clay i rams head wedge...i've tried the conch shell wedge and think rams head is more efficent timewise even tho more physical.

Chilly likes this

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I knead dough so that's how I wedge clay.

I knead dough in a sort of cross between spiral kneading and bulls-head kneading, depending on the size of the dough piece and the type of dough. Bagel dough is so stiff that bulls-head - with my weight fully behind/into it - is the only way to make any progress...

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Now the huge corroded area will never be truly gone, so unless I want to cultivate some rusty creative effect in fired clay, I will not be wedging my pricey precious porcelain on that board!

 

Naval jelly (phosphoric acid in a gel form) will remove rust.  I've used it on my table saw surface when the garage ceiling leaked and I didn't catch it before it rusted.  It may leave the metal discolored, but it'll remove the rust.

 

Whether you want to wedge porcelain on it afterward may still be another matter, but it never stained any of my woods.

LeeU likes this

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Wedging is about creating a ball of clay that is uniform in density (solids/water ratio constant). 
 
I prefer concrete or pine wood as a wedging surface. I use the surfaces available and make it work.  Plaster is low on the list.  If the clay  sticks to the surface, then it is too wet to use; spread it out and let it dry from both sides, then wedge again. 
 
For hand building, I wedge with a mallet, a take off of the slam wedging idea. 
 

lt

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I used to spiral wedge before have the wrist surgery 5 years ago and three bones Removed. I still wedge mostly left handed a bit but let my Peter power wedge do the heavy work.I poured two 5-6 inch thick huge plaster wedging tables in the early 70s like 1971. One for white clay one for brown clays-they still are in service today in studio.I moved them into this new place when I bought it in 1973.

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Yes, yes and yes...

 

Means: I always wedge! First wire and slam, even if I use clay directly from the bag, and then bullshead for me (because I don't know how to do the beautiful Asian wedging). And yes, I orient the rotation of the spiral that's on the peak after wedging to the rotation of the wheel (counter clock). Sometimes I really wonder if I don't overdo it, but.... it's what I learned eons ago from Pietro Maddalena (La Meridiana, Tuscany), and he was a strict teacher! I always hear him moaning in my brain when I try to skip a step  :unsure:

 

Hey, it's so good to be back in the forum! Thank you Pres for telling me you and the members here miss me. :wub:

 

Evelyne

Judith B likes this

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Guest JBaymore

Spiral wedge.  Almost always wedge.  On wheel spiral axis centered to shaft.  For handbuilding coil and slab..... does not matter.  For pinching stuff like chawan.... spiral axis aligned to center.

 

best,

 

..............john

 

PS:  Welcome back Evelyne.

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