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So, as you all know, my wheel days are basically kaput. After shedding a few tears about it, I have decided to take our fine lady Chris's words to heart ("throwing is basically manipulating a circle") and I'm actually really excited about handbuilding my stuffs!


I love those chubby forms that remind me of a purse with four stumpy teeny feets. I bet I could make some truly adorable yarn bowls from that form, among other things. I have three handbuilding books, one on animals and one called "Handbuilding Basics" or something like that (has a pale blue soft cover with a wicker-designed greenware bowl on the front), and one really old one that all kindsa cute things in it. I want more! :P


What're your favorite handbuilding books and/or artists? I love animal sculpture (Beth Cavener HNNNGHHH ♥♥♥), but I'd like to keep my forms simple with smooth surfaces for drawing. I have so many ideas tumbling about in my head right now, but this house/studio-packing boohockey is keeping me bloody well occupied... >:/

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Maureen Mills has a beautiful book titled Surface Design for Ceramics. It has a lot of slab and hand built work and the surface design focus should be right up your alley. I believe it is worth every penny. It can be had used for less than $13, including shipping.  (Amazon)

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guinea, since the pots you make become a canvas for your art, try something simple.  get a piece of foam rubber, sofa cushions will work but they are soft and offer little resistance.  roll out a slab of clay no more than 1/4 inches thick.  any thicker cannot be manipulated or folded easily.  find a board that is the shape of a tray or plate that you like.  check the proportions so you are happy with it.  any shape will do.  try cutting a large fish or a cat shape.  OR A BUNNY!


cut your slab using the board as your interior shape.  just put the board on top of the slab.  cut around the shape of the board about 3/4 inch wider than the board is.  that 3/4 inch becomes the edge when you press the wood into the clay on top of the foam.  sounds complicated but read it again.  it is simple.  just be sure that you have rolled your slab in several directions and upside down so it does not raise its bottom as it dries.  the edges you fold up can be sponged smooth and you are done.  


try a stiffer foam from a fabric store.  it does not have to be large, just big enough to allow a few inches around the exterior of your largest board.  check the sizes fit in your kiln with room to spare for smaller ones.

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next lesson.  get a board that is wide and long.  have a carpenter cut a hole in the board all the way through so what you end up with looks like a very wide picture frame with no picture in it. have the edge routed with a simple roundover bit.   roll out a slab the size of the board.  put the slab flat on top of the board and drop them both onto the floor, clay side up.  you now have a slab of clay that has slumped into the shape of the cut out.  put some decoration on the flat part that becomes the rim of your plate, platter, or tray.  cut the rim in an interesting way. let it dry, paint something fun on it.  you can add feet if you catch it at leather hard.  duckfeet, paws, dragon claws...................


plain old wood works best, no varnish!!!!  the carpenter will want to use fancy wood and do things to make the wood look great.  don't let that happen.

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Go to the library and check out every book that even remotely sounds like it might cover your subject. It's a FREE way of figuring out which book or books will give you the most benefit. If you find a book you covet, check out repeatedly, dream of maybe never returning it at all then THAT is the book you go out and buy yourself a copy of.


I did this when I first started. The librarians and I got to be friends they even asked me to display my work in a case at the library with a few of my favorite books. They said they were pretty sure I cehecked out every book on the subject offered and I am talking dozens and dozens, one week alone I got 3 dozen special request books all at once. Lol that was funny and not so fun to carry all the way home. What I would do is page through each book quickly and any that caught my eye I would set aside to go through again. Then I would and read the parts that caught my eye and if it ended up being a majority of the book I would read it from cover to cover. If I found myself checking the book out again and again I woul start searching to purchase myself a copy of it.


Who knows doing this might open up all kinds of new creative doors for you.



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