PotFest 2017 - Part 1

Well, it's been quite a crazy few days.

Right after 'Pottery Staycation' kicked off last Friday, we were all rocked by the events at Charlottesville... And although I had hoped to be completely in the zone all weekend, I was a little distracted to say the least.  Still, between reading WaPo updates and battling a sudden gnarly cold, I managed some quality studio time and cranked out some new work!

My first project was playing with some plaster to make some bats.

No, not the flying ones ;) When you throw pottery on a wheel, you usually do it on a round disk called a 'bat'. They can be made of plastic, wood, masonite, sheet rock... But my personal favorite is plaster.  

Why plaster!? Because, once the plaster has wicked enough moisture out of the pottery, the vessels will literally pop right off the bat! No need for cutting a problematic stuck-on piece with a wire. This is especially useful for large/wide pieces -- platters, plates, heavy vases, etc.

One really awkward Amazon delivery later (latex gloves, vaseline, some large basins, and a scale)... I mixed together 20lbs. of plaster, lubed up some basins, and poured myself some new bats! Watson helped by staring at me in confusion / horror.

For the plaster itself, I used Hydrocal -- it's supposed to be strong, prevent chipping, and sets fairly quickly. I mixed water:plaster 4.5:10 (or 9:20), slowly sifting in the plaster to the water. Manually mixed by hand for 1-2 minutes, then it was ready to pour.

My two new bats are now curing, and should be ready to use in about 2 weeks.  It’s a loving process of moving them into the sun in the morning, and then back inside for the evening. 

Overall, very happy with my results, and I can't wait to throw my first LARGE platter on a bat I've made!

On my next blog post, I'll talk more about my actual pottery throwing!

As a little teaser, here's a time-lapse video of me throwing the base for a large vessel. (That's a blow-torch I'm using to stiffen the piece while throwing).