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Is Canvas well just CANVAS?

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Okay I KNOW this is a total newbie question but.... is canvas just canvas or is there a special type for pottery? I ask because I have seen marine canvas, canvas duck and just plain canvas used to describe the canvas used in people's ceramic studios. I have also read that some use old sheets, jeans, etc. I tried an old sheet much too stretchy to hand roll out clay had horrible time with wrinkles no matter how tight I tried to stretch it. The jeans, well I wear cargos not jeans so have none to sacrifice. I bought a 6x9 foot canvas drop cloth from Home Depot; is this the correct type of canvas? It seems fairly tightly woven and heavy. I plan to cut it down into smaller pieces and somehow attach it to some plywood ware boards. I also plan to set aside a bigger piece to clamp to my butcher block work table so I can hand roll out my clay. I haven't tried it out yet though. I priced canvas on some pottery supply websites and they want way too much but maybe I have to buy this special canvas to get good results hand rolling?

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I have no idea what you are "supposed" to use but I went to an awning and canvas store and got heavy duty canvas. It cost $21 for a 4 foot end cut off. You want something that is strong and durable, especially if it will get a lot of traffic from students.. I made a plaster slab table and covered it with my canvas. it helped to soak the canvas and stretch it while wet. I staple gunned it to the wood frame. . . Maybe someone else will know how well the drop canvas will work.

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I just used basic drop cloth painting canvases for my classroom. They resist enough of the wet clay, to make clean up on the tables easier.

 

The first school I taught at, had a type, that were a bit stiffer, because they had some type of coating on the back, that made them very resistant to the clay soaking through.

 

I will say, there are some, who suggest not using canvas at all, because it traps the clay dust. It definitely does, but I have my students handle mine carefully, as to not to stir the dust, and I give them a good washing, every year.

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You can get canvas at Walmart. Should not be too coarse because when you roll out slabs, you get the texture of the canvas on the surface of your slab. You can stretch it onto plywood using a staple gun, just like stretching a canvas for painting.

TJR.

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I don't use canvas at all. I use HARDIBOARD from Home Depot/Lowes or other home supply stores. Hardiboard is amazingly strong, doesn't break down like plaster, doesn't collect dust and even if you scratch it from cutting to hard through slabs there really isn't any problem with it getting into the clay like there is from plaster. All my work tables are topped with hardiboard. I've been using it for over 15 years and have yet to encounter a single problem using it with clay.

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That hardiboard sounds interesting, but my tables are multipurpose, so I can't put anything permanent on them, that's just for clay work. Unless that same board would be fine for drawing, painting and photo work.

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That hardiboard sounds interesting, but my tables are multipurpose, so I can't put anything permanent on them, that's just for clay work. Unless that same board would be fine for drawing, painting and photo work.

 

 

My tables had to be multipurpose also, but after a while the fine film of clay would get to the paper for drawing, and painting. I solved this problem by purchasing 30 large drawing boards with clips at the top. I also built a rack for them to hang on in the back of the room away from anything clay. We found that in the end they worked great for portrait and still life drawing while seated in chairs, worked well on the tables to work with pen and ink and painting, and would consistently give us smooth well secured undersurface. I purchased these with funds from my adult ceramics classes as I believed them to be a solution to the multipurpose room problem. My room was well kept, and cleaned, but clay being what it is. . .

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I've been using cotton duck from a marine/awning/duffle bag store. They had a variety of thickness, and weave. I use Hardiboard under my canvas on my wedging table and MDF under two layers of canvas on my work table. If there's a lot of activity on the work table, it gets a wash down with buckets & scrub brushes--finished off with sponges and scrapers to remove all excess moisture--once a week. This actually helps keep the canvas stretched tight and relieves any dust problem. The wet scrub down is done daily on the wedging table at the end of the day. If your canvas cover starts to look loose or gets wrinkled, scrub it down and let it dry--it'll be like new.

 

What ever you have will probably work. Don't buy canvas at the art store unless you are looking for an extra fine weave. Way too expensive. At businesses that use canvas for custom boat covers and other coverings, you can sometimes get a real bargain on roll ends--my usual cost has been in the $7 - $12 per yard range. Most canvas comes in 48" to 72" widths at this type of store.

 

I have separate wedging "covers", to use with porcelain, made from 1/4" Masonite. Using Ailene's waterproof glue (found at craft stores like Michael's) to attach the canvas I've been using this setup for over 30 years.

 

For six years--while being an "artist in the schools"--I introduced & taught 5th graders to appreciate and work with clay. The only tables we could use were cafeteria tables (you know the kind--eight feet long with fold up legs and Masonite tops) so I came up with canvas covers that could be easily put on and removed. Back to my marine/awning shop and they made them with hems on the long sides with grommets every 12 inches. Bungie cords hooked through the grommets kept the canvas tight and made a great working surface.

 

Shirley

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canvas i buy for our studio is #4 duck canvas. VERY heavy duty stuff - like more than my double-front Carhartts and a piece can almost literally stand up in the corner of the room! looked around at multiple fabric stores, art suppliers, and even a place that makes outdoor awnings - but the best price I found was from onlinefabricstore.com, believe it or not!

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Thank you everyone. I used the canvas paint cloth for the first time the other day and it worked really well. If I find it starts to stretch too much I'll go online at onlinefanricstore and order a couple yards. I am just starting out and I mean REALLY just beginning this journey. I rolled out all by myself 4 round tile shapes that I'll be using as test tiles for a technique I am using on a platter I made in class. I also managed to roll out a piece big enough to start a utensil holder that I am making on my own. I do have to say that a slab roller like I used in class sure makes doing slabs super easy. It took a bit of practice to get the clay rolled properly here at home. I'm using the canvas painters cloth, a 2" solid wooden dowel, a 6" plaster taping knife and 3/4, 5/8, 1/2, 3/8 and 1/4 inch trim strips from Home Depot to do my rolling.

 

Again thank you everyone I am so new at all this I don't even know what I don't know yet and this forum is a fabulous source of information.

 

Terry

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"Back to my marine/awning shop and they made them with hems on the long sides with grommets every 12 inches. Bungie cords hooked through the grommets kept the canvas tight and made a great working surface."

 

Now that's a great idea. I've constantly been trying to find a way to secure my canvases to the tables. I thought about using C-clamps, but those would be in the way. The bungie idea is great, though the canvases I have, don't have grommets. I supposed I could add some???

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"Back to my marine/awning shop and they made them with hems on the long sides with grommets every 12 inches. Bungie cords hooked through the grommets kept the canvas tight and made a great working surface."

 

Now that's a great idea. I've constantly been trying to find a way to secure my canvases to the tables. I thought about using C-clamps, but those would be in the way. The bungie idea is great, though the canvases I have, don't have grommets. I supposed I could add some???

 

 

A simple method is to use picnic table clamps.

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"Back to my marine/awning shop and they made them with hems on the long sides with grommets every 12 inches. Bungie cords hooked through the grommets kept the canvas tight and made a great working surface."

 

Now that's a great idea. I've constantly been trying to find a way to secure my canvases to the tables. I thought about using C-clamps, but those would be in the way. The bungie idea is great, though the canvases I have, don't have grommets. I supposed I could add some???

 

 

A simple method is to use picnic table clamps.

 

 

Even better. Thank you Sir!

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grommets aren't that hard to add to fabric. you can buy them at a place that carries a decent hardware selection (like Ace Hardware) or order them from someone like Fastenal/Grainger/McMaster, etc. grommets get installed with a crimping tool. - if you put grommets on your canvas, then you can stretch it over your table surface from underneath with a rope and it will be much tighter than pretty much all the other methods.

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I saw on a ceramic shop web site that they were selling cotton duck #10--the price was way too high for a yard so I didn't buy it there but figured it's a good guess that if they're selling #10 duck, it's a good weight.

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"Back to my marine/awning shop and they made them with hems on the long sides with grommets every 12 inches. Bungie cords hooked through the grommets kept the canvas tight and made a great working surface."

 

Now that's a great idea. I've constantly been trying to find a way to secure my canvases to the tables. I thought about using C-clamps, but those would be in the way. The bungie idea is great, though the canvases I have, don't have grommets. I supposed I could add some???

 

 

A simple method is to use picnic table clamps.

 

 

Even better. Thank you Sir!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For future reference, some put screws or bolts, or even nails close into the sides of the table to hook the grommets onto. Canvas is then easy on and off.

 

 

 

 

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Okay I KNOW this is a total newbie question but.... is canvas just canvas or is there a special type for pottery? I ask because I have seen marine canvas, canvas duck and just plain canvas used to describe the canvas used in people's ceramic studios. I have also read that some use old sheets, jeans, etc. I tried an old sheet much too stretchy to hand roll out clay had horrible time with wrinkles no matter how tight I tried to stretch it. The jeans, well I wear cargos not jeans so have none to sacrifice. I bought a 6x9 foot canvas drop cloth from Home Depot; is this the correct type of canvas? It seems fairly tightly woven and heavy. I plan to cut it down into smaller pieces and somehow attach it to some plywood ware boards. I also plan to set aside a bigger piece to clamp to my butcher block work table so I can hand roll out my clay. I haven't tried it out yet though. I priced canvas on some pottery supply websites and they want way too much but maybe I have to buy this special canvas to get good results hand rolling?

 

 

When I had very limited studio space and was working alternately in white & red clays on a regular basis, I used portable boards. I covered 2 ft by 4 ft pieces of 3/4" plywood with heavy cotton duck from the fabric shop, fixing it with a staple gun on the back. I had one exclusively for porcelain, one for red earthenware, and one for the raku clay I used which was black when raw. The plywood stood up well to the washing I did after every use, so dust was not a problem. The boards were also very handy when doing demos in schools, galleries, and other small spaces because I could just throw them in the car with my tools. Have studio will travel!

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I'm also doing a great deal of work in a shared space with a clay group, and we use 16" by 24" 1/4 inch (or so) plywood covered with fabric as our work surfaces on what amount to cafeteria tables. The regular painting canvas is great if you can afford it, but I've also seen people use old sheets (too thin, don't do it), burlap (really textury!), muslin (works pretty well if you get the heavy stuff), an old paint drop cloth (a bit thin, but it works), some mystery canvas from wherever which works well, and then on mine I have some cheap old upholstery fabric (probably mattress ticking, but who knows) from the dime store. Its held up for 15 years! Attachment methods vary as much as the fabric of choice, some used glue, others used thumb-tacks, some used staples, and a few used duct-tape (the least successful.) Watch the length on your staples and tacks if you use them, nothing worse than finding out your thumbtacks are sticking through the work surface. I have several boards, different ones for different colored clay. I don't generally scrub, but I do spray them down with water and scrape off any slop on a regular basis. This keeps them very usable, and we have little to no problem with dust. We do have to wipe down the tables after our sessions, a couple rounds with a regular kitchen sponge (well rinsed!) leaves them ready to go for the next group.

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I'm also doing a great deal of work in a shared space with a clay group, and we use 16" by 24" 1/4 inch (or so) plywood covered with fabric as our work surfaces on what amount to cafeteria tables. The regular painting canvas is great if you can afford it, but I've also seen people use old sheets (too thin, don't do it), burlap (really textury!), muslin (works pretty well if you get the heavy stuff), an old paint drop cloth (a bit thin, but it works), some mystery canvas from wherever which works well, and then on mine I have some cheap old upholstery fabric (probably mattress ticking, but who knows) from the dime store. Its held up for 15 years! Attachment methods vary as much as the fabric of choice, some used glue, others used thumb-tacks, some used staples, and a few used duct-tape (the least successful.) Watch the length on your staples and tacks if you use them, nothing worse than finding out your thumbtacks are sticking through the work surface. I have several boards, different ones for different colored clay. I don't generally scrub, but I do spray them down with water and scrape off any slop on a regular basis. This keeps them very usable, and we have little to no problem with dust. We do have to wipe down the tables after our sessions, a couple rounds with a regular kitchen sponge (well rinsed!) leaves them ready to go for the next group.

 

 

I used plywood boards for a while, uncovered. To the bottom short edge of these I added a wooden strip to catch on the edge of the table. In this way the board could be used to wedge on, and to roll out slabs or do any handbuilding work.

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