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Since I got the carpal surgery 2 weeks ago,  I'm pretty much limited to small hand building.  Fortunately, I laid in a stock of clay before that and as you know, got the slab roller.  Rolling slabs by hand is not going to happen for now.  Or wedging, or throwing.

Anyway, the point.  After all the discussion of Slab Mats, canvas, etc, I think the best thing is old cotton sheets.  Feeds perfectly well, leaves no texture and costs nothing.  The slab mats are funky, in my opinion.  They absorb too much water from the clay.  Difficult to get the clay off cleanly, if you wait too long.  Expensive and fragile. Canvas leaves too much texture.

  Any feedback on this?   I must have missed the suggestion to try this.

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the best thing i have found is a pair of printer's blankets.    they are a very tightly woven fabric, think expensive men's dress shirts with a stiff backing of rubber or plastic or something.   they do not hold anything like the dust that canvas does and can be sponged off daily.

the advantage i see is that i have a sturdy work surface to construct something on top of that can be moved around with no real trouble.   not like the flexible canvas that cannot hold up a sizable slab without sagging.   mine are about 28-30 by 24 inches, just right for making multiples or enough for a large project.

i use 2 different slab rollers, a bailey and a  blue one whose name i can't remember right now, from the west coast.   each one works well with the blankets and feeding them past the rollers is simple, they are stiff enough that they do not ever try to go under the tabletop.  i used a hole punch for mine so they  hang on the wall out of the way when i do not use them.

they are also free if you happen to be anywhere near a printing company that does offset printing.   they use the rubber side and sometimes a lot of ink gets on both sides of them.   at some point they are trash to the printer and perfect (after washing) for potters.

Edited by oldlady

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The printer blankets are to small for my use-My 30 inch roller and a 5 foot long slab matt.(old lady what size are yours)

Cactus I have used my slab matts for decades now. The I never wipe or wash them-I use a dry one each use and hand it on a 1 inch rood to dry and where you live it will dry in a few minutes. You need to have a few of them and dedicatecd ones for white or brown clays or a red clay..I bought the second direct from them for cheap-deal dirtect with them.

They are cardboard material so care is needed

I like the stiffness of the slab mats-I use canvas on one side  most ofg the time as that texture down os ok fro most of what I do-I only need smooth on one surface but if I need smaooth on both its two slab matts. Canvas as everyone noted has texture.

Now let talk about carpel tunnel-find a great hand wrist elebow specialist (only works on that area and have then do a surgical procedure) -its fast and you heal right up and its behind you-I have a few friends who have had this and its a no brainer.

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Yeah, I had the surgery on the 10th.  Healing pretty fast, but still not completely closed, so no throwing and a little sore for wedging, since the heel of the palm is where the pressure goes.  But I'm loving the slab roller anyway, so no real drama.

Old Lady, I was not able to find a printer that uses printing blankets.  Seems to be a tech of the past.  A friend of mine who runs a large print shop in San Diego had never even heard of them.  Hang on to the ones you have.  The slab mats definitely work.  I have 2 and use them just like Mark describes.  Canvas on one side, slab mat on the other.  Easy to wipe the texture off the top and the bottom is ready to go.  I have 2 but I'll not buy any more.  Not worth the price when a cotton sheet works just as well.  Not a Slab Mat Fan.

Everyone has their favorites that they have used for years and find no reason to change.  For everyone who gets a slab roller and is using canvas, I'd suggest a heavy thread count top sheet.  Usually the bottom sheet takes the wear and the top sheet is now salvage.  A cotton sheet works at least a well as canvas.  Don't know why canvas is the go to.  I don't see a down side to the cotton so far.  May try some heavy plastic and see how that works.

I'm sure everyone knows the trick of picking up the slab using a large diameter piece of drain pipe.

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19 hours ago, CactusPots said:

I was not able to find a printer that uses printing blankets.  Seems to be a tech of the past. A friend of mine who runs a large print shop in San Diego had never even heard of them.

Offset lithographic printers are still very much around. The place you're talking about is probably a digital-only shop. If it has a retail storefront that the public can enter, then it's not the right kind of place. 

For anyone who is trying to find printer blankets, try googling "offset lithographic printer near me." Then give them a call and tell the receptionist that you are a potter who is wondering if their company gives away used printer blankets. They should be free, printers throw them away everyday. But be prepared to pay a reasonable price if asked, for the time it takes them to accommodate your request. 

Edited by GEP

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Since I have the same size slab roller as Mark, I'm going to pass on the printing blanket route.  No need for a solution if a problem doesn't exist.  Honestly, I think I have the simplest solution possible.

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For everyone who gets a slab roller and is using canvas, I'd suggest a heavy thread count top sheet.  Usually the bottom sheet takes the wear and the top sheet is now salvage.  A cotton sheet works at least a well as canvas.  Don't know why canvas is the go to.  I don't see a down side to the cotton so far.  May try some heavy plastic and see how that works

I have a Bailey table top slab roller, the one with shims. I've used flour sack towels instead of canvas. The problem I had with towels was sometimes they would  leave a crease making a wide section of the slab unusable. Slab mats eliminated that problem.

I don't know if bed sheets would have cured  that problem or if a slab roller with geared rollers would make a difference.

I'm guessing you don't have a problem with creases using the sheets?

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On 3/25/2020 at 8:26 PM, oldlady said:

the best thing i have found is a pair of printer's blankets.    they are a very tightly woven fabric, think expensive men's dress shirts with a stiff backing of rubber or plastic or something.   they do not hold anything like the dust that canvas does and can be sponged off daily.

the advantage i see is that i have a sturdy work surface to construct something on top of that can be moved around with no real trouble.   not like the flexible canvas that cannot hold up a sizable slab without sagging.   mine are about 28-30 by 24 inches, just right for making multiples or enough for a large project.

i use 2 different slab rollers, a bailey and a  blue one whose name i can't remember right now, from the west coast.   each one works well with the blankets and feeding them past the rollers is simple, they are stiff enough that they do not ever try to go under the tabletop.  i used a hole punch for mine so they  hang on the wall out of the way when i do not use them.

they are also free if you happen to be anywhere near a printing company that does offset printing.   they use the rubber side and sometimes a lot of ink gets on both sides of them.   at some point they are trash to the printer and perfect (after washing) for potters.

@oldlady sent me printer's blankets 3 years ago and I absolutely love them for the slab roller.  I still use canvas for brown clay if people are wanting the texture of the canvas.  I have a large printer blanket that I used for wedging clay, one for white and one for brown. They are easy to clean.  Depending on where you get them, they can be wide.  I love the smooth texture of the blanket.  They are a favorite tool!  Thanks Alice @oldlady

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4 hours ago, Smokey2 said:

I have a Bailey table top slab roller, the one with shims. I've used flour sack towels instead of canvas. The problem I had with towels was sometimes they would  leave a crease making a wide section of the slab unusable. Slab mats eliminated that problem.

I don't know if bed sheets would have cured  that problem or if a slab roller with geared rollers would make a difference.

I'm guessing you don't have a problem with creases using the sheets?

I don't see creases if I line up the sheet properly, so it feeds in straight.  If the sheet had a permanent crease, I could see how that would cause it.  Start with good sheets/ 

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I use the canvas that you can buy with a Bailey slab roller,  they are heavy and don't wrinkle.    When I smooth out the canvas texture with a soft rib I usually find a bubble or two.   Denice

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How wet the clay is makes a difference in how it rolls out using bedsheets. I use both bedsheets and canvas, with the bedsheet I tug on the end of the sheet as I'm rolling the clay through, it helps avoid the wrinkling but isn't perfect. There is finer canvas than what the ceramic places sell,  canvas duck cloth from fabric shops is available with  tighter weave than the typical canvas used with slab rollers.

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In the past I used binder clips clipped to a custom made shim to hold the bottom sheet. Then I rolled the top sheet onto a PVC tube  and let it slip out as I rolled the clay. It worked well but not 100% but it was just to fussy to have to deal with all the time. Slab Mats saved the day

 

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