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How do you remove a wide bowl from the wheel head without ruining it?


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Hi all!

I don’t like throwing with bats, I get frustrated with trying to keep them from wobbling and the particle board style ones I have warp so easily. I first learned to throw directly on the wheel head and I guess that’s where I’m stuck.

The only problem is that it’s really hard to remove wider things. I avoid bowls for this reason, have lost too many trying to remove them. 

Open to any and all tricks and tips. Thanks!

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Here's a couple of thoughts...is your splash pan removable? If so what you might do is wire the bowl off the wheel head, splash additional water on the wheelhead in the direction you'll want to slide the bowl and, pushing the bowl into the water, off the wheelhead and onto a ware board. Another option would be pot lifters... cut the bowl loose and, using a pair of pot lifters under the foot, lift the bowl up and onto a ware board. Then there is also the option of getting bats that fit properly on your wheelhead. 

I've made bats from Corian sink cutouts, Formica countertop cutouts (these I seal the edges with a waterproof polyurethane). A local kitchen remodeling contractor is usually a good source for these. Then you can also purchase plastic bats from you local or online pottery supplier...

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For pots around 4-5" or so at the base you can use a wide paint scraper to slide under the pot after it has been wired off.  Dip the paint scraper it water then push it under the pot and lift it off then put it onto a ware board while pulling away the paint scraper. Another way to do it is to use a piece of thin paper (newsprint or pages from an old phone directory) on the rim, gently run your finger around the rim on top of the paper. Wire the pot off then pick it up as close to the bottom of the pot as possible. Place it on a ware board then remove the paper. This can mess up the rim a bit but just leave it alone until it has firmed up a bit then smooth out any blemishes. Rib off the outside of your pot and dry your hands before taking the pot off the wheel.

Another approach is to purposely make the rim out of round.

Best solution might be to get some better batts for your wide pots.

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Agree with the advice given above, and I would also recommend leaving a lot of extra thickness in the base of the wall and the floor. This will make the pot more stable as you move it. This means a lot more trimming later. 

I also recommend exploring batt options that will avoid the issues you’ve experienced with batts. I love my masonite batts. I have some that are going on 20 years old and they do not warp. 

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if you throw with a lot of water, try to reduce that amount.  if you do not need the wheel for the next 15 minutes after throwing the big bowl, try a fan blowing on the slowly revolving wheel to dry the pot enough to lift with paper on the rim  as Min suggested.

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I have a very imperfect recollection of an idea that might be repurposed to help.

I think somebody needed to remove pots from the bat "early" to avoid drying issues, but was distorting the pots when doing so. The solution was to put high-wet-strength paper (teabag paper) on the bat before throwing the pot. When the pot was dry enough: wire-cut under the paper and then pull on the paper to slide the pot off the bat without touching it.

If the OP is dead set against bats, maybe paper could be used as a partial substitute?

PS I seem to remember the teabag paper was available in 6" rolls (or was it squares). No idea of current availability.
... well at least somebody sells it
https://www.thatscrafty.co.uk/thats-crafty-surfaces-tea-bag-paper.html
https://www.vycombe-arts.co.uk/onlineshop/prod_3687465-Tea-Bag-Paper.html
... most hits seem to be for huge rolls of ill-defined product for commercial use
https://tinyurl.com/5x2yt4sj

PPS Obviously there must be a knack to get enough clay under the paper before you start throwing.

Edited by PeterH
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50 minutes ago, PeterH said:

I have a very imperfect recollection of an idea that might be repurposed to help.

I think somebody needed to remove pots from the bat "early" to avoid drying issues, but was distorting the pots when doing so. The solution was to put high-wet-strength paper (teabag paper) on the bat before throwing the pot. When the pot was dry enough: wire-cut under the paper and then pull on the paper to slide the pot off the bat without touching it.

If the OP is dead set against bats, maybe paper could be used as a partial substitute?


I have used cardboard, canvas, and/or tarpaper "bats" for large items.  
see: Vince Pitelka website:
https://www.vincepitelka.com/ 
http://www.vincepitelka.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Throwing-on-Canvas-Bats-as-an-Alternative-to-Rigid-Bats.pdf


LT
 

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+1 for getting better bats. Using a broken tool is incredibly frustrating, and gets in the way of being able to do a job at all, never mind doing it well.

Using a good tool makes a HUGE difference. If you go with any form of plywood or MDF, make sure they’re 3/4”. I find the thinner ones warp more easily, which will contribute to them not adhering as well.

If you’re really stuck and you’re obliged to work with warped ones in a last resort situation, a clay bat patty is a better adhesion method than using a bat mate, or even the pins. The clay will absorb some of the irregularities, and it doesn’t wobble. Use stiffer clay than you’d prefer to throw with, but that’s still malleable, and make sure the patty is thick enough to support the size of bat you’re using.

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I’m going to suggest that flexible bat methods like tar paper or canvas aren’t ideal, by admission from people who use these methods. From the Vince Pitelka information linked above:

”While inappropriate for most plate, platter, and bowl shapes that would distort when removed from the wheel on canvas bats, this system is ideal for any small and medium-sized cylinder-based forms that don’t need wheel-trimming….”

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For large bowls and platters, judicious use of a torch or heat gun to stiffen up the form a bit before wiring off helps with removal without deformation.  Be sure to keep the torch and or pot in motion when doing this so the upper part of the pot dries evenly and slowly.  Depending on your heat source, this only takes about 5-10 minutes.  However, I also agree with what the others have suggested about getting bats that fit your wheel correctly.  

It is sometimes difficult to wire off large bowls or platters without the wire rising up in the center and taking off a bit more of the pot than desired.  Here is a simple tool I made many years ago to help with this.  Three sections of angle iron welded together at an angle with the cut-off wire stretched tightly across the gap.  Tensioning accomplished using eye bolts through threaded holes at each end with two nuts on each side to lock the bolts in place after tensioning.

IMG_9504.jpg

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Plaster batts are wonderful for large wide pots, no wiring off needed. Economical to make yourself from #1 Pottery Plaster and springform cake tins from a thrift store. They can be attached to the wheelhead with a clay donut or a BatMate, if you want to use pins they can also be made to accommodate those but it's more work / fuss.

Edited by Min
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@Beebop

All of the advice you have received is spot on. I will add my two cents, as I have been in your place in the past with a large bowl. I have often found, that with the help of another individual hold a ware board that the bowl can be slid onto the board. You do this by cutting with a cutting wire as normal off of the bat. Then you use a sponge to add excess water to the back side of the bowl. Then using your cutting wire start to gently pull the wire through the water and under the bowl. at some point the bowl will begin to slide, and with water on your ware board being held next to the wheel head the bowl will slide onto the ware board. If you want to assure roundness use a piece of paper on top as has been suggested during the slide. If you can not get the pot to slide try a second pull of water, and with fingers spread gently push the pot onto the board.

Whatever you do, if you continue to work larger where you cannot comfortably move the pot, bats are your best friend. I have done some bowls as large as 25# and 40" in diameter, no way to move them without a bat. Once you get there, figure out how to trim that bowl!

best,

Pres

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This is such an awesome lists of solutions, most of which are completely new to me, very excited!!  I love not reinventing the wheel when I don’t have to and I’m sure I can find something in here that fits for me.  And yes I agree I should give bats another go, I just get overwhelmed with the number of tools and supplies needed in pottery, my instinct is to just trying to pare it down to the basics and cut out the ones that are more frustrating than helpful. That being said, the bat is pretty basic. 

Hope this is helpful to others out there too. This forum is great, thanks to all that make it happen!

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21 hours ago, JohnnyK said:

Here's a couple of thoughts...is your splash pan removable? If so what you might do is wire the bowl off the wheel head, splash additional water on the wheelhead in the direction you'll want to slide the bowl and, pushing the bowl into the water, off the wheelhead and onto a ware board. Another option would be pot lifters... cut the bowl loose and, using a pair of pot lifters under the foot, lift the bowl up and onto a ware board. Then there is also the option of getting bats that fit properly on your wheelhead. 

I've made bats from Corian sink cutouts, Formica countertop cutouts (these I seal the edges with a waterproof polyurethane). A local kitchen remodeling contractor is usually a good source for these. Then you can also purchase plastic bats from you local or online pottery supplier...

I don’t know what pot lifters are but I will look into it. Taking off the splash pan to hydroplane off the wheel is genius. I remember hydroplaning when I first learned, and for some reason got it in my head that it’s not a good technique because it could make for a soggy bottom. But I will give this a go, I like it! Thank you!!

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21 hours ago, Min said:

For pots around 4-5" or so at the base you can use a wide paint scraper to slide under the pot after it has been wired off.  Dip the paint scraper it water then push it under the pot and lift it off then put it onto a ware board while pulling away the paint scraper. Another way to do it is to use a piece of thin paper (newsprint or pages from an old phone directory) on the rim, gently run your finger around the rim on top of the paper. Wire the pot off then pick it up as close to the bottom of the pot as possible. Place it on a ware board then remove the paper. This can mess up the rim a bit but just leave it alone until it has firmed up a bit then smooth out any blemishes. Rib off the outside of your pot and dry your hands before taking the pot off the wheel.

Another approach is to purposely make the rim out of round.

Best solution might be to get some better batts for your wide pots.

I had not heard of the paper rim technique before. This is cool, will definitely do this. Thank you!

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16 hours ago, GEP said:

Agree with the advice given above, and I would also recommend leaving a lot of extra thickness in the base of the wall and the floor. This will make the pot more stable as you move it. This means a lot more trimming later. 

I also recommend exploring batt options that will avoid the issues you’ve experienced with batts. I love my masonite batts. I have some that are going on 20 years old and they do not warp. 

Good to know, mine are a particle board material that wraped write away, but could see Masonite being much more rigid. Thank you!

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12 hours ago, Piedmont Pottery said:

For large bowls and platters, judicious use of a torch or heat gun to stiffen up the form a bit before wiring off helps with removal without deformation.  Be sure to keep the torch and or pot in motion when doing this so the upper part of the pot dries evenly and slowly.  Depending on your heat source, this only takes about 5-10 minutes.  However, I also agree with what the others have suggested about getting bats that fit your wheel correctly.  

It is sometimes difficult to wire off large bowls or platters without the wire rising up in the center and taking off a bit more of the pot than desired.  Here is a simple tool I made many years ago to help with this.  Three sections of angle iron welded together at an angle with the cut-off wire stretched tightly across the gap.  Tensioning accomplished using eye bolts through threaded holes at each end with two nuts on each side to lock the bolts in place after tensioning.

IMG_9504.jpg

Yes I often have that problem, very irregular cuts at the base of bowls. I will think about this, not sure how to replicate but I’ll think about it. Love how every potter seems to have their own hack or tool they’ve made for these sorts of things. Thanks for sharing!

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Are you placing your bat DIRECTLY on the wheelhead? They do wobble when you do that. Try this.... at 12 o'clock 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock put three small balls of clay right at the rim of the wheelhead. Then press your bat down over the pins. The clay acts like flat shims taking up the uneven spaces between the bat and the wheelhead. Occasionally i add more clay between the others up to six on the wheelhead for an even more wobbleless bat. Dont just react to the symptoms of the bat but be proactive of the actual cause of the bat wobble.  THEN throw your bowl and gently place a knife between the bat and wheelhead and give a slight but gentle twist to release the bat. Voila! take that wobbily bat!

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I bought a few of the Bat Mates to use under my bats.  They are a life saver when it comes to bat wobble.  They are like $15 or so and I have had the same two for a few years now.  Just wet, let it expand a bit, put on the wheel head and seat your bat.  Rinse when you are done for the day and store damp.  Several companies make them.  Highly recommend.

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I have been putting a piece of plastic from a clay bag under the bat. Soak it in water first, then put the bat on the wet plastic on the pins. They hold up pretty well, and when centering clay for plates I have no wobble. Wrote it up for CM a few years ago, posted on my blog site.

 

best,

Pres

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Better bats will solve this issue in an instant.

I throw 20# bowls on bats with zero issues.

Either my homemade sink cutout formica toped ones or Northstar plastic blue bats or  Northstar mediex bats all do the same good job

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On 10/1/2021 at 10:04 AM, Lisa M757 said:

I bought a few of the Bat Mates to use under my bats.  They are a life saver when it comes to bat wobble.  They are like $15 or so and I have had the same two for a few years now.  Just wet, let it expand a bit, put on the wheel head and seat your bat.  Rinse when you are done for the day and store damp.  Several companies make them.  Highly recommend.

yeah i have one of those and it worked pretty good for awhile, but then all my bats warped, and it wasn’t enough to make up for it. i’d say worth the $15 definitely and will use again when/if i get a different type bat! 

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I would look into trying different bat setups so you don’t have to worry about this. High quality bats that you take care of, store properly clean etc will not have the issues you have. Even plastic bats would be better. 
 

my .02

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Beebop

Somewhere in boxes are my good hydrostone bats.  I loved them.  I hope to be loving them again soon-ish.  I believe you can buy the stuff to make hydrostone and make your own as well.

They will not warp and they don't have some of the problems of plaster bats.  I THINK they are also lighter weight than plaster bats but I could be mis-remembering.

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