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cbarnes

rolling clay without a slab roller

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Hello,

I've played with handbuilding using a basic kitchen roller (i know its not the right way to do this) and i've decided i love doing hump molds, hand build vases, tiles etc.   however using a kitchen roller doesnt make it even.  I'm not ready to invest in a slab roller as i do not have the space for it (someday).  are there any recommendations for getting an even slab of clay without that tool?  and also, what do you use to roll the clay on so that it doesnt get texture or stick. 

 

thank you!

Christy

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When using a rolling pin, you need to use thickness strips to achieve an even slab. Thickness strips are simply strips of wood of whatever thickness you want your slab to be. Place a strip at each side of your slab, and roll the slab down until the rolling pin is rolling across the tops of the strips.

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My wedging boards (scrap pieces of tile backer board, one for red, one for white, one for all other colours) impart some texture, however, slabs can be peeled off ok; from there, a wipe down with a rib smooths the texture out. That said, not much slabbing in my studio - I even throw test tiles!

Edited by Hulk
one verb please

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Before I got my slab roller I used a big pastry roller and wood strips, I purchased the roller at a restaurant supply store.  If you find the room for a slab roller and into handbuilding I think it is one of the best purchases I have made for my studio.  I have a Bailey 28 inch and built my own table,  you can find smaller slab roller units.  I could sell my used Bailey for more money than I paid for it  if I  ever parted with it.     Denice

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something that will go along with what Neil said.. Make some cutting sticks.. take 2 square sticks about 1 inch square and mark them off like a rule .. cut notches in them so your wire cutting tool can fit and be pulled through the clay, then move up to next measurement you want and pull through clay again etc.  its fast and easy , works very well ..

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I've used this long, heavy (almost 4 lbs) commercial pastry roller since I set up my home studio, years ago. It is wonderful, and works beautifully with the leveling sticks as described above.  I was also fortunate to eventually get a table top Bailey, which is also wonderful! For the hand roller I usually use Slab Mats to reduce surface texture.

20191028_231653.jpg

20190912_172437.jpg

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As everyone says above.

If you can stretch to the cost and space of a slab roller you will get the same quality of slabs, just quicker and with less strain on your wrists.  If rolling on a wooden board, use a cloth.  The finer the cloth (recycled egyptian cotton sheeting for example) the less the weave will show on your finished clay.

Getting a roller (two actually) was the best thing I did.  One is homemade from wood and poly tubes, the other is an old mangle/wringer.One lives at home, the other at community centre.

small.IMG_0379.JPG.c33d5a559eea199a0bb7flarge.IMG_0376.JPG.e5afffc49aa778fbf8cff

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I make large slabs and use a 24" sheetrock squeegee to smooth the surface. you can get whatever size works for you. I use a latex resist for my drawings, so the surface should be smooth to allow the latex to peel off easily. I also like the smooth look.

Marcia

 

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I've seen that a lot of pottery supply places carry rolling pins, with interchangeable rings.  The rings replace the wood slats for creating a consistent thickness.

I've thought about getting them, for my classroom, because the slats always get unorganized, being as I have multiple sets, of two different thicknesses.

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45 minutes ago, Benzine said:

I've seen that a lot of pottery supply places carry rolling pins, with interchangeable rings.  The rings replace the wood slats for creating a consistent thickness.

I've thought about getting them, for my classroom, because the slats always get unorganized, being as I have multiple sets, of two different thicknesses.

They are used in baking too, https://www.ebay.com/itm/Casabella-8pc-Silicone-Rolling-Pin-Spacer-Bands-Pastel-/122103930429

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1 hour ago, Min said:

Yeah, like many things, potters see something and say, "Hey, I can use that with clay!" and then companies start marketing to them.

Personally, I never use anything to create a consistent thickness, when rolling out dough.  I know how big something has to be, to fit the dish, or how many of something I should get out of the dough, and just roll it out enough for that.

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10 hours ago, Chilly said:

As everyone says above.

If you can stretch to the cost and space of a slab roller you will get the same quality of slabs, just quicker and with less strain on your wrists.  If rolling on a wooden board, use a cloth.  The finer the cloth (recycled egyptian cotton sheeting for example) the less the weave will show on your finished clay.

Getting a roller (two actually) was the best thing I did.  One is homemade from wood and poly tubes, the other is an old mangle/wringer.One lives at home, the other at community centre.

small.IMG_0379.JPG.c33d5a559eea199a0bb7flarge.IMG_0376.JPG.e5afffc49aa778fbf8cff

love the homemade one, i'll shot this to my husband and see if he feels up to the task.

 

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10 hours ago, Chilly said:

As everyone says above.

If you can stretch to the cost and space of a slab roller you will get the same quality of slabs, just quicker and with less strain on your wrists.  If rolling on a wooden board, use a cloth.  The finer the cloth (recycled egyptian cotton sheeting for example) the less the weave will show on your finished clay.

Getting a roller (two actually) was the best thing I did.  One is homemade from wood and poly tubes, the other is an old mangle/wringer.One lives at home, the other at community centre.

small.IMG_0379.JPG.c33d5a559eea199a0bb7flarge.IMG_0376.JPG.e5afffc49aa778fbf8cff

Great design for the slab roller...do you have the plans for it and would you share?

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benzine, you must have some acrylic paint in your art department.  give some student the task of matching the sticks, another student to paint spots of color on the matching sticks.  lots of sticks, lots of colors.    only confusion if spots are only painted on one side.

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18 hours ago, oldlady said:

benzine, you must have some acrylic paint in your art department.  give some student the task of matching the sticks, another student to paint spots of color on the matching sticks.  lots of sticks, lots of colors.    only confusion if spots are only painted on one side.

Oh, I *made* matching sets, the students just struggle with keeping them that way...

I have them numbered, along with the thickness clearly labeled.  And when that didn't keep them together, I actually counter sunk small magnets into them, so the pairs would be stuck together.  And still, they can't keep them together. 

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22 hours ago, JohnnyK said:

Great design for the slab roller...do you have the plans for it and would you share?

 

22 hours ago, cbarnes said:

love the homemade one, i'll shot this to my husband and see if he feels up to the task.

We did lots of research, and eventually used no specific plan, just good woodworking practices, plenty of screws, bolts, decent thickness timber.

The pipe is extra thick stuff, not normal, it was probably the most expensive bit.  The rest was built to the size of the timber, AND to the size of the space it was going to live in - under the greenhouse staging) although now it permanently lives on top and I have to clear it off before I use it.

The inside of the base is slatted (like a bed) and has two or three sheets of thin  (6mm??) MDF, that I can take out, which gives me different thickness slabs.  I also bought two A2 cutting mats, (different thickness only as they came at different times from different suppliers).  I always use a cutting mat as the top surface, to protect the MDF from moisture, and the turquoise canvas cloth.

The wires are a figure 8 and I've since added an ex tent pole through the eye bolts and the fold of the canvas to keep that under control.

I can take more photos if anyone wants more detail.  As I said above, I love both my rollers, one is portable and storable, the other not but it is prettier.

 

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I have tried the silicone rings in the past, I found them to be a lot of trouble to get on/off, and they didn't really work for me, as they can be compressed. 

I just ordered these rollers - theoretically they should work great but...theories have certainly failed me in the past! 

When they arrive I'll report back and tell you how they work - I'm planning on only using them for small slabs I want to make on the worktable, I have a roller for larger slabs, but wanted something more convenient for cutting out little things. 

 

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3 hours ago, Chilly said:

I can take more photos if anyone wants more detail.  As I said above, I love both my rollers, one is portable and storable, the other not but it is prettier.

 

More pix would be helpful, particularly without the cloth...a few measurements would help, too! Thanks

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I cut my block of clay with a potter's harp? to approx thickness desired. Then use slats and big wooden r pin to finish the job.

Find joining a couple of smaller slabs quicker and easier on my joints than trying to roll my way over bigger lumps of clay.

Slab roller would be lovely though.

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babs.   if you slam the clay onto a concrete floor several times, you will increase its thixotropy so it will be more malleable and easier to roll.  stretching it at the same time lets you get it into a shape that is easier to roll, also.

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Most Cone 5/6 clay needs to be slammed,  if the clay seems extra hard I will do a five gallon bucket water pressure soak overnight.  It is amazing what a half cup of water and a pressure soak will do to clay.       Denice

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On 10/29/2019 at 6:08 PM, JohnnyK said:

Great design for the slab roller...do you have the plans for it and would you share?

No plans, but I have put more photos, with descriptions, in my gallery; 

Any questions, just ask.

 

Edited by Chilly

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