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Jolee

Alternatives To Canvas Work Surfaces?

Work Surface Materials  

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  1. 1. What material(s) do you use on or for your work table(s)?



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I have a small teaching studio and the four work tables are covered with heavy canvas attached by staples around the edges to a non-porous surface.

 

Despite our best efforts the canvas traps clay dust, stains, tears, and leaves texture where we may not want it.

 

I'd love to find a smooth, strong material that I could use to cover thee tables. In my dreams it would be something I could sponge down at the end of the day and would not leave a texture. Imagine formica that doesn't stick to clay :-)

 

Anyone have any suggestions for me? What do you use?

 

Thanks, Jolee

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I have a small teaching studio and the four work tables are covered with heavy canvas attached by staples around the edges to a non-porous surface.

 

Despite our best efforts the canvas traps clay dust, stains, tears, and leaves texture where we may not want it.

 

I'd love to find a smooth, strong material that I could use to cover thee tables. In my dreams it would be something I could sponge down at the end of the day and would not leave a texture. Imagine formica that doesn't stick to clay :-)

 

Anyone have any suggestions for me? What do you use?

 

Thanks, Jolee

 

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It isn't cheap, but there is a sign painter's material called Crezon that makes an excellent, flat, smooth work surface. It's plywood with paper laminated to the surface. It can stay wet for long periods of time and resists warping. We use it in the classroom for work boards and they last year after year with heavy use. Very wet clay can stick to it, but not nearly as badly as smooth plastic. it does breathe a bit.

Best of luck!

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I have a small teaching studio and the four work tables are covered with heavy canvas attached by staples around the edges to a non-porous surface.

 

Despite our best efforts the canvas traps clay dust, stains, tears, and leaves texture where we may not want it.

 

I'd love to find a smooth, strong material that I could use to cover thee tables. In my dreams it would be something I could sponge down at the end of the day and would not leave a texture. Imagine formica that doesn't stick to clay :-)

 

Anyone have any suggestions for me? What do you use?

 

Thanks, Jolee

 

I use formica. I have several work tables with formica and it cleans up quickly. Are you looking for a something absorbant?? How about slab mats? I also use sheet rock 2'x 2' boards with taped edges. I use them for drying slabs.

Marcia

 

 

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I have a lithography printer close by and my favorite material are his throw-away llithography pads. The clay does not stick to the pad and they are about 1/8" thick so I can use multiples on the slab roller. The plates are smooth and flexible, don't crack and the do not get wet so the clay does not stick to the pads like it does with some other materials after a few applications o the clay.

 

Regards,

Charles

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Guest JBaymore

I use 4' x 8' stock 1/4" masonite sheets on top of the plywood top structure of the table surface. It is cheap, washes off well, has no apparent textural pattern, and can be changed in a matter of minutes. It is held down by a few sheetrock nails. I typically change the table surfaces once a year in my studio.

 

 

best,

 

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

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As I previously said, my tables are formica.Working habits probably dictate how one uses a work surface. Interesting topic. I hadn't given it all that much thought. But when I am working the clay slabs are on slab mats. My pots are on bats and ware boards. When keeping pots wet, I cover them with plastic containers sometimes on the ware boards or directly onto formica if they are leather hard. I guess I appreciate the formica most when I am casting plaster or glazing because it cleans up so easily. When I build with large slabs I need to lift them. They are never directly on a table surface. The work moves from table to work carts/drying shelves. I sometimes line the shelves with newsprint paper. The shelves are smooth plywood. I also have large sheets of gypsum/sheetrock (with taped edges) for drying slabs.

These fit on my 2'x2' ware cart. Another ware cart has shelves 16" x 24" and I have a few shelf systems that are strong plastic that hold ware boards.

Maybe the surface material most often used in my studio is wood. My greenware workspace is 22' x 22'. Spraying and kiln area are elsewhere. I have a lot of tables and carts on wheels for versatility. I also have a counter surface with two large plaster slabs for drying wet clay or making paper clay. My wedging table is plaster and next to my wheel. When throwing, I put wet clay there and reuse it. I often scrape the edge of my water bucket and put the slop back onto the wedging table to reuse it too. Trimming scraps are soaked and turned into slip and /or paper clay using the plaster slabs. I don't like canvas surfaces for the reasons stated by Jolee in the first post. I do have some rolls of canvas and take them with me when doing local workshops. But generally, I haven't used them for my own work in a long time.

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I have a small teaching studio and the four work tables are covered with heavy canvas attached by staples around the edges to a non-porous surface.

 

Despite our best efforts the canvas traps clay dust, stains, tears, and leaves texture where we may not want it.

 

I'd love to find a smooth, strong material that I could use to cover thee tables. In my dreams it would be something I could sponge down at the end of the day and would not leave a texture. Imagine formica that doesn't stick to clay :-)

 

Anyone have any suggestions for me? What do you use?

 

Thanks, Jolee

 

 

Hi Jolee,

I use a tightly-wooven, cotton-backed NAUGAHYDE (54" wide) available from a high end upholstery or home fabric shop. The side used by most folks is the vinyl side (for covering cushions on boats or exterior furniture) but because this is vinyl on the one side, when you use the wooven-backed side face up on your tables, you can hand build on them or wipe them down and the wetness does not go through the cloth and penetrate the underlying table top.

Just be sure to buy the brand which is cotton and not nylon backed. I even cut this NAUGAHYDE into 24" x 27" work mats which I can take with me to different places when I teach or give a workshop. These work mats can be hosed off outside and hung over my deck railing to dry or in the winter, washed in my washer and dried in my dryer for continuous use.

Personally, I use a Printer's mat on my studio table for hand building because the surface is so tightly woven, I get little if any texture on my clay surface. However, these are next to impossible to find and can be quite expensive.

 

BHClaysmith@gmail.com

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Hi Jolee,

I use a tightly-wooven, cotton-backed NAUGAHYDE (54" wide) available from a high end upholstery or home fabric shop. The side used by most folks is the vinyl side (for covering cushions on boats or exterior furniture) but because this is vinyl on the one side, when you use the wooven-backed side face up on your tables, you can hand build on them or wipe them down and the wetness does not go through the cloth and penetrate the underlying table top.

Just be sure to buy the brand which is cotton and not nylon backed. I even cut this NAUGAHYDE into 24" x 27" work mats which I can take with me to different places when I teach or give a workshop. These work mats can be hosed off outside and hung over my deck railing to dry or in the winter, washed in my washer and dried in my dryer for continuous use.

Personally, I use a Printer's mat on my studio table for hand building because the surface is so tightly woven, I get little if any texture on my clay surface. However, these are next to impossible to find and can be quite expensive.

 

BHClaysmith@gmail.com

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Guest JBaymore

If you are in the Philadelphia, PA area, you can buy the NAUGAHYDE at Summerdale Mills on Frankford Avenue 215-335-9494.

 

Save the Naugas! Don't use naugahyde. wink.giftongue.gifcool.gif

 

best,

 

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

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If you are in the Philadelphia, PA area, you can buy the NAUGAHYDE at Summerdale Mills on Frankford Avenue 215-335-9494.

 

Save the Naugas! Don't use naugahyde. wink.giftongue.gifcool.gif

 

best,

NaugaMonster.jpg

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

 

 

ROFL, sorry I just couldn't resist!

 

Regards,

Charles

 

PS: Obviously I also couldn't figure out how to insert an image and so I misplaced it blink.gif

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If you are in the Philadelphia, PA area, you can buy the NAUGAHYDE at Summerdale Mills on Frankford Avenue 215-335-9494.

 

THAT IS AMAZING! I went to the elementary school down the block and across the street from the current Summerdale Mills address. There used to be lots of fabric outlets down Mill road along the tracks near Pennypack creek.

BH, have you read Green Grass Grace? It is one of the funniest books I ever read ..it is about growing up in the '80s in this neighborhood. I predate that by 2 decades, but the landmarks are there. I still return to DePalma's bakery for great Italian rolls whenever I pass through Phila. Decatur and Frankford.

Marcia

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I agree that different projects call for different surfaces. I have a large work table with a formica top, on locking rollers,. I appreciate the washable surface, but often use various materials to cover it for work. Every time I think about covering it with canvas, I don't. There is a smaller table with a canvas top, but I don't use it as much for a work surface.

 

The naugahide backing is a great idea. I do something similar, but will look for the naugahide, that would give me large pieces to work with.

Something I do for my hand building students is pre roll out medium slabs the night b4 class to dry them some on sheet rock, then transfer the drier clay to the back side of old plastic place mats. This hold the moisture where they will need it, and there is a slight texture to the mats that helps the clay not stick. I can do this several days ahead of class if needed. When they come in the next day, I have their slabs stacked up ready and can deal them out like card, on the placemats, the girls stamp, cut, roll, whatever, on the mats, then wipe them off. When they get cut up with needle tools, I toss them and go back to the 2nd hand store for more, usually 25 cnts each.

 

The wedging table is plaster covered with heavy canvas, I can scrub that back to white easily by using a little water , scrub brush, then wipe it with a towel to take up any residual clay. I do that about once a month, or if the dark clay has migrated over to the light side.

In the glaze room I have formica tables.

 

I do use alot of sheet rock with taped edges in various sizes, I seem to go from one surface to another as a project moves along . aMaybe we need different thing for different stages of a piece?

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I use vinyl upholstery material. It is heavy enough to just let hang or flexible enough to staple underneath. Generally doesn't stick to clay too much. You can get smooth or with just very slight texture. Does cut if you apply knife, but not as badly as canvas.

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Still use wood ware boards, plastic tables, plastic bags or sheeting to slow dry. For small slabs love tapped edged drywall, bigger slabs that i have to move i use tar paper...cheap...reusable and doesn't "give".

If they ever make a finer version of tevik ( waterproof paper on the outside of houses before siding goes up) i'll be first in line to get some.

 

 

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Interesting to see everyone's work surfaces!

 

Having haunted the aisles at Menards, Lowes, and Home Depot with a ball of clay and a sponge in my hand I have found an interesting and inexpensive surface that I am not trying. It is called Green Board (it's white of couse). It is an environmentally friendly tile backer board. It is thin and has a perfectly smooth surface. It can be cut to size with only a straightedge. It wipes down with a damp sponge. I have thrown very thin slabs on it and picked them up with ease. Only very wet clay sticks to it. It cost less than $8 for a 3X5 sheet

 

On the negative side - have to be careful not to use sharp tools on it when cutting clay to avoid deep scratches.

 

So far my students love it and so do I.

 

Thanks!

 

Jolee Chartrand

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Sometimes you can find sheets of Hardiboard - 1/2" NOT 1/4" (at home centers) that have one very smooth side. I like the way a little bit of the clay moisture is absorbed, clay does not stick, one can cut on it, then hose it off, wipe it down, and reuse again and again. After cutting my tiles, I transfer (while maintaining flatness) the cut pieces to the traditional drywall/newspaper sandwiches for drying. We also will begin rolling the clay first directly on the Hardiboard, then flipping it onto a piece of canvas, rolling to final thickness, then stacking and drying to leather hardness, again, using ghe newspaper/drywall combo.

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hmm. I just went to the home supply store and bought off cuts in various sizes, of MDF. I label them for Earthenware and Stoneware, wipe them down after I'm finished using them and store them standing upright, leaning against the wall. I bought fairly thick slabs, not sure of the measurement - and so far so good. I realize they will warp eventually, but at $2 a piece, they are affordably replaceable when that happens. ANy reason I shouldn't be using MDF?

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Interesting to see everyone's work surfaces!

 

Having haunted the aisles at Menards, Lowes, and Home Depot with a ball of clay and a sponge in my hand I have found an interesting and inexpensive surface that I am not trying. It is called Green Board (it's white of couse). It is an environmentally friendly tile backer board. It is thin and has a perfectly smooth surface. It can be cut to size with only a straightedge. It wipes down with a damp sponge. I have thrown very thin slabs on it and picked them up with ease. Only very wet clay sticks to it. It cost less than $8 for a 3X5 sheet

 

On the negative side - have to be careful not to use sharp tools on it when cutting clay to avoid deep scratches.

 

So far my students love it and so do I.

 

Thanks!

 

Jolee Chartrand

 

 

I have used high grade painters drop cloths to cover the tables at school before. These are vinyl on one side, and then heavy woven cloth on the other. I put the vinyl side down. Staple around the edges.

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I use something I ordered online called 'soul mat'. I use it when rolling out clay on my slab roller and as a work surface. The clay doesn't stick to it and it doesn't absorb moisture. I use one side for white clay, flip it over for red. It's smooth and doesn't deform or leave unwanted texture on the clay. Easy cleanup with a sponge. Every once in a while I take it outside and hose it down. I've had it for several years now and wouldn't go back to canvas.

 

http://miraclebat.com/soulmat.html

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I use to work at a community art school and we picked up 'scraps' from an awning company to use as student work surfaces. Bright and colorful, vinyl (I think) coated canvas. They just gave us the scraps and some of them were pretty large.

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