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An interesting detour

So I meant to do a post about making lids today, but fate has interceded. (Forgive the grand eloquence I’ve been on a Netflix series Borgia binge). Any way, I’ve taken on a sub contract for a large commission. Luckily, the commission requires that I make the pieces with slip casting, something that I am new too.

So what I would like to do is fill you in on what slip casting is, how I am using the process and what I like/dislike about it.

First off to be specific I am slip casting a one piece mold of a tall tumbler cup. I didn’t make the molds myself, they were made for me by the person who gave me the commission. Below though, I posted  a couple of youtube videos on how to make a mold.

Now as I said, I never did slip casting in the past, so to get up to speed on the process, I watched this video. I found it simple, straight forward and very informative.

I have 10 molds to pour at a time, so I decided to take this process and expand it to a greater scale. I bought 11 home depot buckets (quick tip, they cost $3 while other 5 gallon buckets at Home Depot cost $5), a paint mixing drill extension, a mop, 2 metal grating shelving units and a 3 pack of long wood paint stirers. Over all the setup cost me about $60 to $70, not a major expense.

I’ve set up in my garage and this is what it looks like:

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One of the issues though of slip casting is that the tops of the tumblers are uneven. This requires them to be trimmed. Now I could use my wheel, but since that is covered in brown clay and these pieces are in white clay, I decided to use a banding wheel.

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To ensure that the tops are as even as possible, I drilled a hole into a piece of 2 x 4 wide enough to put a pin tool into and screwed it into my work table. I can then turn the piece, hold the pin tool steadily and evenly and create a level line on the cup. After which, I will brace my wrist on the table and against the 2 x 4 and use an xacto knife to finish trimming the piece.

Lastly, once the piece is almost bone dry, I wet sand it on a plastic platter by turning it upside down and moving it around in a circular motion.  After which, I wipe the piece down with a sponge and let it finish drying.

What I like about the process is the slight passiveness and multiplicity of it. Its not as physically demanding as if I was throwing the pieces. Drying time is much faster, obviously. Knocking out 10 pieces in one stroke, I cannot deny is pretty nice.

The big downside I’m finding is that the molds slowly get water logged. Now I’m aware that is because of a couple of factors. 1, my garage doesn’t have much air flow, 2 its been pretty humid, 3 I’m trying to hit a deadline so I’m not able to give the molds much time to dry. To combat this, I’m using a space heater and a large fan to increase warm air flow.

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So that’s what I’m currently working on. It’s an interesting experience and falls into the adage that I like, “earn while you learn.” It will be interesting to see how this affects my work in the future.

Hope this post is informative and let me know if you have any experience with slip casting and tips for it!

Till next time, get into the studio and make something.

Questions on the technique, email me at sparanoarts@gmail.com, like what I’m doing feel free to join my email list  and get 10% off your next purchase on my Etsy store , make sure to check you spam or gmail promotions folder for the reply email! Also, if you like my advice,I have begun filming daily pottery tips on my YouTube channel. So please subscribe!

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