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JeffK

Alternative to pin tool?

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I've recently begun trying my hands at vases and as it's known to happen, the neck that I create begins to wobble. There are other times when other cylinder types at the top begin to wobble. The solution is to use your pin tool and cut off a ribbon of clay to straighten/level it out.

Here's my issue - my eyesight is somewhat compromised with a loss of vision in one eye. This creates some obstacles especially in depth perception. I've been able to work around most throwing problems but using the pin tool has been agony. I can't tell exactly where my pin tool is (depth perception) and often cut off too much by going too low.

I thought about using my wire tool but realize I'll never get it level so will most likely end up with another wobble.

Any thoughts or suggestions on this?  Yeah, I know...avoid the wobble. Maybe one day...

- Jeff

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Hi Jeff!

Do you back the pin tool with a finger from the other hand, c a r e f u l l y?  I do, however, the point of the tool is moving somewhat sideways to the supporting finger - supporting the other side of the clay. Any road, point being (ahem) that perhaps the supporting finger can help you find the spot to start ? Else, if you're freehanding, the other hand help find the spot as you begin, by feel? Finding the spot by feel without assistance from the other hand, more difficult, but not impossible - try shortening up your grip such that you can reach the tool tip with your index finger, gripping with the ring and little finger

Avoiding that wobbly, aye, that's the ticket! …however, what's not wobbling in an open shape can get there as the top is necked down and/or in. Any road, reducing the wobble still helps. In my (limited) experience, starting out well wedged and thoroughly coned up&down and really centered helps, from there moving the clay smoothly, especially at the start and end of each pull, where the amount of clay brought up is dead even all way 'round.

Edited by Hulk
arr

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Does colour have anything to do with it? I'm wondering if a pin tool would be easier to see if you painted it. Other thought is a wire cheese cutter with the wire tightened up very taunt. (BTW really soft clay is easier to collar in than firmer clay, you get less wobble)

image.png.294f2f5512069be7a3d147b959b6511c.png

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2 hours ago, Hulk said:

Hi Jeff!

Do you back the pin tool with a finger from the other hand, c a r e f u l l y?  I do, however, the point of the tool is moving somewhat sideways to the supporting finger - supporting the other side of the clay. Any road, point being (ahem) that perhaps the supporting finger can help you find the spot to start ? Else, if you're freehanding, the other hand help find the spot as you begin, by feel? Finding the spot by feel without assistance from the other hand, more difficult, but not impossible - try shortening up your grip such that you can reach the tool tip with your index finger, gripping with the ring and little finger

Avoiding that wobbly, aye, that's the ticket! …however, what's not wobbling in an open shape can get there as the top is necked down and/or in. Any road, reducing the wobble still helps. In my (limited) experience, starting out well wedged and thoroughly coned up&down and really centered helps, from there moving the clay smoothly, especially at the start and end of each pull, where the amount of clay brought up is dead even all way 'round.

I seem to be approaching this more with paranoia than care these days! I do like the idea of gripping the pin tool higher - that may also give me a better sense of where the opposing index finger is. I also generally approach from the side with the long edge of the pin tool - I don't stab the clay directly. As I find my mark, I rotate in towards the point. My problem is finding that initial mark. My savings grace may be focusing more on stabilizing when collaring in. Thanks for the additional handling tips!

- Jeff

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1 hour ago, Min said:

Does colour have anything to do with it? I'm wondering if a pin tool would be easier to see if you painted it. Other thought is a wire cheese cutter with the wire tightened up very taunt. (BTW really soft clay is easier to collar in than firmer clay, you get less wobble)

image.png.294f2f5512069be7a3d147b959b6511c.png

Heck - I was just thinking the same thing! The neutral metallic gray of the pin tool may be adding to the visual issue. I might try painting the point a contrasting color, maybe even a bright dayglo color. The wire cheese cutter is a possibility although with my vision problems I might end up beheading the darn thing. Good thoughts - all possibilities are welcome!

- Jeff

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Jeff-

Try bridging the lip of your piece with you left thumb and middle finger as it rotates. Place the pin tool on the upper side of your thumb and lightly touch the clay below the lip, stabilizing it and rotate your pin tool through the clay until it touches your middle finger. Allow the form to make a couple of revolutions before lifting your hand, pin tool and ring of clay away from the spinning piece. It has worked for a couple of my former students who were visually impaired; one of whom was totally blind. Might give you a bit more confidence and control feeling the clay slide between your fingers.

Regards,

Fred

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7 hours ago, Fred Sweet said:

Jeff-

Try bridging the lip of your piece with you left thumb and middle finger as it rotates. Place the pin tool on the upper side of your thumb and lightly touch the clay below the lip, stabilizing it and rotate your pin tool through the clay until it touches your middle finger. Allow the form to make a couple of revolutions before lifting your hand, pin tool and ring of clay away from the spinning piece. It has worked for a couple of my former students who were visually impaired; one of whom was totally blind. Might give you a bit more confidence and control feeling the clay slide between your fingers.

Regards,

Fred

Excellent Frank - thank you! Yours is the experience I was looking for. It's a difficult problem to solve unless you've been there. I'll be back in the studio tomorrow and will try this method if the dreaded wobble makes its appearance!

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Whenever I am doing anything on the wheel, I have found that bracing the two hands in some way. . . touching of knuckle against an edge of the other hand, thumbs braced together, or even wrists close in proximity gives me more awareness of depth and place. At the same time, the use of this bracing is triangular so gives more stability. I used to teach whee throwing in HS, and this was one of the lessons most students would comment on as being very helpful.

 

best,

Pres

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I have found, over the years of throwing, to, on occasion, accept the wobble as part of the final piece, sometimes causing the wobble to create an undulating and uneven rim on some of my vases. Most of the folks who see or buy the vases say they like the look of the uneven rim. Who am I to argue with what some to perceive as a failure turning into a success? Then again, it also may depend on the size of the rim compared to the rest of the form. Most of these are narrow-necked vases...

JohnnyK

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9 hours ago, Pres said:

Whenever I am doing anything on the wheel, I have found that bracing the two hands in some way. . . touching of knuckle against an edge of the other hand, thumbs braced together, or even wrists close in proximity gives me more awareness of depth and place. At the same time, the use of this bracing is triangular so gives more stability. I used to teach whee throwing in HS, and this was one of the lessons most students would comment on as being very helpful.

 

best,

Pres

I agree, Pres. Especially in centering and opening, I've found that having that hands touching in some way, has been helpful in stabilizing and moving the clay. It's becoming more apparent to me how critical awareness of position is - and having the hands working in concert helps. The above tip from Fred fits into that by first finding my position with both hands at the rim and then using the thumb as a "rail" guide to trim the clay off the top. This is work that takes more than a bit of devotion to continue to develop your skills!

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8 hours ago, JohnnyK said:

I have found, over the years of throwing, to, on occasion, accept the wobble as part of the final piece, sometimes causing the wobble to create an undulating and uneven rim on some of my vases. Most of the folks who see or buy the vases say they like the look of the uneven rim. Who am I to argue with what some to perceive as a failure turning into a success? Then again, it also may depend on the size of the rim compared to the rest of the form. Most of these are narrow-necked vases...

JohnnyK

I've often said there is a beauty to be found in the imperfections. Looking at the classic functional bowls and vases, the rims, sides and feet are often roughly shaped. But yet they're incredibly fascinating and unique and show the work of a craftsman's - and craftwoman's - hands. Glazes are like that - what might be considered a chaotic blend of color really turns into a hypnotic combination  that people are often struck by. Right now I'm still at the stage of exploring how clay moves and how the tools work. I don't seek perfection - that's unattainable. I do pursue function as demonstrated by my teachers although I'll sometimes give the form some way of expressing itself.  That's where the interest is. For me, this has turned into an incredible exploration of science, craft and art - and I do fear I'm becoming a bit obsessed by it! :)

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An example of the uneven rim can be seen in my latest photo of "Another Horsehair Raku Trio". The gal at the studio that took in the pieces for the auction said that the rim and the trinket made the piece look really neat...323201164_AnotherHorsehairRakuTrio1sm.jpg.096e8570a1420e21f6fedc0d2232ce73.jpg

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Beautiful work, John. Love the use of the feather and stones to ornament the vase.  The rim certainly takes it out of the usual form and gives it its own unique shape.  All of it works together!

- Jeff

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