How to make things look the same part 1

One of the top questions I am asked as a pottery teacher, especially by my students who have progressed passed the basics of wheel throwing is: How do I make multiples of something.

Essentially, once you have an understanding of how to make something you want to be able to make it over and over again. Its often not enough to have made a coffee mug, typically people want to make a mug set.

Usually by the time I have been asked this question, the student has tried making multiples of things several times and without success.

So, here are my tips that should help you be able to make the products consistently at will.

First I recommend you read my first 6 blog posts about the mental game of wheel throwing:

THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO MAKE

CREATING A SYSTEM AND FINDING A RHYTHM

DISCIPLINE AND CREATIVE SELF CONTROL

YOU’VE GOT TO RESPECT THE PROCESS

So in these previous blogs I discussed having a plan and the discipline to seeing it through. More often than not, when a student is having a problem making something repetitively is that they often keeping playing with the piece that they’re throwing for far too long.  They just want to do this, fix that, play with this and before you know it, the piece falls apart. So, my first tip as discussed in the previous blogs is to have the discipline to stick to only the movements you need to make for the piece.

Now onto the actual physical tips.

First when you want to make multiples of something, its best to design something that is simple and easy to recreate.

20190923_021456.jpg

As you can see from the pic above, I kept the design of the tumblers simple. By keeping it simple, I was able to remember the steps easily. Easily enough to make the steps muscle memory quickly.

After and during the design phase you need a ruler. Some people may prefer calipers and that’s fine. For me though, the preference is a ruler.

To be specific I use an old florist’s ruler that was my late mothers. Why I use it is more than just sentimentality. It is a tri-sectional yard stick, which is great because it allows me to get a strong grip on the ruler, which as you know with clay hands and a spinning wheel can be difficult.

Once you know (and write down) the measurements of the piece, all you need to do is have the discipline to repeat the physical steps and hit the measurements.

Now lets say you can’t hit the measurements every time, that’s fine. If you are going to make a set of 4, prep to make 8. Always be prepared to make double of what you need. The best case scenario is that you bat 1000 and have extras, worst case you get a lot of practice in and make no mistake this is an activity that requires practice.

Plus there is another upshot of having extras, it gives you a margin of error. So if you mess up trimming or glaze sticks to the kiln shelf on one, you have others that you can fall back on.

Let’s also look at the possibility that you might have over shot the measurements. That’s a better scenario to be in. In that case you just trim down your piece accordingly. I do love the pin tool for that reason.

So those are my tips for making sets of things. To sum up:

Keep the design simple – a simple  design is easy to remember an execute

Have a ruler – knowing your measurements and achieving them is more than half the battle. (I bet if you’re an 80’s kid you just heard GI JOE in your head)

Practice discipline – ignore your desire to play around, that time was for when you were prototyping. Now is the time to execute consistency.

Prep for more than you need – the down side is negligible.

In my next post I will go over how trimming and glazing adds to the consistency factor.

I hope that helps you in these uncertain times and allows you to get to the next level.

Questions on the technique, email me at sparanoarts@gmail.com, like what I’m doing feel free to shop my Etsy store or become a Patron

 

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