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TonyC

Rolling Pin Question/Recommendation

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I was recently introduced to handbuilding over the weekend and am extremely inspired.   I am now looking to invest in some items, and find myself asking a seemingly silly question regarding rolling pins.   I know that I want a wider one (18"+), but noted that there are a variety of finishes and designs (e.g., lacquered, bare finish, metal bearings, plastic bearings,  NO bearings, etc.).

What matters for rolling out clay?   I am a hobbyist and do not have any large volume demands.   Any insight and information is welcomed.   Thanks.

T

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Yeah, porous surfaces work waaaaay better.

If the clay is wet enough, it will stick to anything, but wood is kind of the standard. 

I had a colleague try and use some "Non-Stick" rolling pins.  I said, that the smooth surface would stick to the clay, and the claim of non-sticking was probably in reference to baking.  She swore they worked great.  She retired and the new teacher tried them.  He gave them away, and went back to the wood ones,  as he got sick of scrapping all the stuck clay off the surface.

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Spend a few bucks and buy a solid maple,  18" to 24" rolling pin. This may take a little more to roll, but in the end it is easier to cut several pieces out of a large slab than to try to piece them. I had these in the HS I taught in until we bought a slab roller. Even then I had students use rolling pins and sticks to roll slabs as many times you do not have slab rollers.

When using rolling pins, do not grip the handles, as this is rough on your hands, use the hands open over the pin, even though the thumbs hook underneath. Keep your hands dry, and if necessary use some form of body powder as a lubricant.

 

 

 

best,

Pres

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28 minutes ago, Pres said:

Spend a few bucks and buy a solid maple,  18" to 24" rolling pin. This may take a little more to roll, but in the end it is easier to cut several pieces out of a large slab than to try to piece them. I had these in the HS I taught in until we bought a slab roller. Even then I had students use rolling pins and sticks to roll slabs as many times you do not have slab rollers.

When using rolling pins, do not grip the handles, as this is rough on your hands, use the hands open over the pin, even though the thumbs hook underneath. Keep your hands dry, and if necessary use some form of body powder as a lubricant.

 

 

 

best,

Pres

This is what I started searching for.   Do you know a brand?  I saw a used pin on Craigslist which was a Thorpe, but I think it had a finish on it and I was afraid to buy it.   Should I make sure to stay away from a finish?   It seems from all comments that this is a critical point.   I am attaching a side view of the product I looked at.

Thorpe pin.JPG

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I paid 15 dollars for an unvarnished maple rolling pin w/bearings. It is 22" long and the roller part is 15". It is a heavy duty commercial bakers pin. It is awesome and makes terrific slabs. Found it online. Update-after reading Neil's comment below, I would add that were it not for the price, fixed handles, would be preferable. 

Edited by LeeU

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I regularly use a homemade rolling pin when i need to roll out large slaps. It's made out of a long piece of pvc pipe, filled with (casting)concrete. It's sturdy, heavy and dirt cheap to make - all things i find nice for a rolling pin. One needs to be carefull when rolling in from the edge of the slab, as the rolling pin has a tendency to pick up the clay as it's not porous.

For smaller slabs, i make do with a solid beech wood rooling pin. It's Italian, and I think it's ment for rolling out pasta. But i like the heaviness of the pvc rolling pin better.

/Sofus

Edited by Sofusryge

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I bought a huge rolling pin from a restaurant supply store,  it has ball bearings.  I don't use it anymore  since I got a Bailey slab roller.   I am  more of a slab builder and tile maker than a thrower it was one of the best investments for me.    Denice

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2 hours ago, Sofusryge said:

I regularly use a homemade rolling pin when i need to roll out large slaps. It's made out of a long piece of pvc pipe, filled with (casting)concrete. It's sturdy, heavy and dirt cheap to make - all things i find nice for a rolling pin. One needs to be carefull when rolling in from the edge of the slab, as the rolling pin has a tendency to pick up the clay as it's not porous.

For smaller slabs, i make do with a solid beech wood rooling pin. It's Italian, and I think it's ment for rolling out pasta. But i like the heaviness of the pvc rolling pin better.

/Sofus

Thanks.  Weight becomes very important with these slabs (especially with large amounts of clay).    

 

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4 minutes ago, Denice said:

I bought a huge rolling pin from a restaurant supply store,  it has ball bearings.  I don't use it anymore  since I got a Bailey slab roller.   I am  more of a slab builder and tile maker than a thrower it was one of the best investments for me.    Denice

I had a workshop this past weekend and the instructor spoke very highly of the Bailey slab roller.  Maybe someday if I begin to hand build more.  

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My slab roller is also a Bailey,  I bought it about 15 years ago.   My husband saved some money by building the table it needed.   It was a unusual table and needs to be strong so you will  need some carpentry skills .     Denice

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Prob obvious but I slice along block of clay with the "harp" just a bit thicker than I need . This minimises the amount of rolling required...recycled. I slam into a block shape and do as above.

Roll between 2 sticks with a solid large  wooden roller.

Release clay from surface before cutting out.

I roll onto canvas covered board with cloth between roller and clay..

Find the hard board dries my clay too much causing it to crack underneath when easing it into molds

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when you slice a piece of clay off a new block, slap it soundly on the floor and stretch it out .  flip it and  do it again from the opposite end, stretching it even more.  the slapping motion also compresses the clay and makes it more thixotropic.   your rolling pin will like working on stretched, compressed clay.

when rolling, always start from the center of the piece of clay.   roll away for the first time and then from the center toward your tummy.  twirl the flat slab around a quarter turn and do it again.   as you work, try to continue that pattern every time you use a fresh piece of clay.    it is much easier to control the clay this way  than shoving the rolling pin into a mass of clay that wants to fight back.

Edited by oldlady
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