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QotW: What form of measurement do you use when making pieces, and what sort of preplanning do you do?

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Hi folks, sorry this is late, but I have been having trouble coming up with a new question for the QotW. . . . imagine that!  However, lately I have seen the strands that refer to measuring sizes, using a variety of ideas, so I decided to ask: What form of measurement do you use when making pieces, and what sort of preplanning do you do?

My own measuring process depends on the type of work I am doing. I have often said that I throw off the hump when making much of what i do in the way of chalices, small jars and lids. I really did not go into much more than the throwing, saying that I use measurements like tennis ball, base ball, golf ball, or softball for measurement. These I form on the top of the hump, by my hands and using the shapes as equivalent to weights. When I first started throwing off the hump, I found that weighing out balls of size, and matching that size when throwing was a good way to go. Tennis ball was approximately 1lb depending on clay wetness.  When throwing larger pieces, I have some charts from various potters that list sizes that are now annotated by me for my sizes and throwing style. If throwing several large pieces that have to match, I use either calipers or a pointer device. Rarely do I use a ruler when measuring, unless for height. However, when making small jars I have a board that has several measurements marked as straight lines with end marks for setting up calipers. I also use plumbing parts for chucks to trim lids with that makes it really easy to get the same size diameter.

When it comes to handbuilding, I start with a sketch. Then I use sketch proportions to help me figure sizes of base, and height, but the rest is more jigsaw puzzle assembly. Usually no more measurements than the base size, and the approximate height, both measured by ruler as sort of a bounding box.

Once again,   QotW: What form of measurement do you use when making pieces, and what sort of preplanning do you do?



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So it depends on what I'm doing.  For forms I make repeats of, I have a master for each form.  It says on the bottom the weight of clay that is used to make it.  I put it on the wheel, set a gauge, and then I am up and away making them.

For plates it's easy.  12 inch bat, open to the edge, pull the edge in to the pins and then pull the wall and lay it down.  It always ends in a 12 inch plate.  I use 4lbs for a 12 inch plate.


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the size of the kiln shelf is a real help.   i have traced the shelf onto my white slab roller top.   making something too long to fit is not a good idea.   it also allows me to trial fit the forms i use for slab work on a shelf so i can tell if a new shape is profitable.   and it gives me an idea of what odd corners might be available for small fast sellers.  

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I tend to use centimeters and millimeters for 98% of work that need measuring.

for dinner/salad plates I still use my americano ruler (bad system really) but have done so since 1973 and know the two sizes well-just lazy and never changed

For most forms I  cut the pug into weights I know without weighing  just by the cutting of the whole pug. I weigh the clay if the form is an odd weight.

when doing free form slab fish I sketch the fish on paper 1st and trace it onto the slab

I tend to do this all pretty fast without a lot of thought

Edited by Mark C.
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One of the first things I did when setting up my studio was to make a tracings of a kiln shelf (half round) on kraft paper and  foam core. I then used the "guides" to measure and select the best sizes for a set of tall utility shelves, a small shelving unit, a utility cart, and drying boards (dry wall) that were all "calibrated" to hold 6 shelves worth of work.   I also used my templates to figure out how much of what type of pieces I could fit on a shelf. The coordination, as a production process assist, has served me well and I never have to guess about when I have enough to fill the kiln. I am a slow worker and it is a large kiln, so that is important for planning and serves as a motivator to get it done, since it can be a long wait until the next load is ready.  

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