Tag Archives: beer

Handle Diapers and Stretchy Clay

The last couple of days I broke down and made some larger mugs and tankards. I generally avoid handled forms because most of the clay in my studio is not suitable. If you make a coil and bend it around your finger, it just cracks apart instead of bending. This time, I mixed a bit of plastic clay into the normal stuff to try to improve its plasticity. The mugs threw fine on the wheel, but again, when it was time to make the handles the clay was crap.

At first I tried pulling handles from a large ‘carrot’ of clay, but once you wet it, two pulls and it would be cracking apart and dropping off in your hands. Taking a different tack, I rolled out some tapered snakes, like Opossum tails but less stinky, and tried altering and attaching those, but when I tried bending them around to attached at the other end, they just cracked apart. The very few that didn’t crack ended up cracking a few hours later as they dried. Doh!

So this brings me to the current discussion of handle diapers. Sticking with the Opossum tail method I rolled out some coils. Then, before pressing them flat, I stretched a piece of plastic wrap over them. Making sure the plastic wrap was good and stuck to the clay, I attached the flattened handle to the shoulder of the cup, then turned the cup over and set it on the edge of the table.  Grasping the tapered end of the handle and the plastic, I lifted up the handle end and attached it. If any cracks appeared they could be eliminated by pulling on the two ends of the plastic which compressed the handle. Or, rubbing the clay through the plastic would erase them too. Leaving the plastic on, I placed them in styrofoam boxes to prevent rapid drying, hoping that it would also help the moisture to equalize between the cups and the handles. Today, I checked them after about 18 hours and they seem stable. None of the handles show signs of new cracks and they have firmed up nicely. The plastic is still attached but has puckered a bit from the shrinkage in the clay. It will be interesting to see if these dry completely without cracking.

Several years ago I ordered 100kg of white clay from Seto for making some Shino and Green Oribe ware. Never got past the experimentation stage for various reasons, but the clay is still taking up room in the studio so I decided to break it out and use it. I was double bagged in thick plastic and is still quite soft after almost 5 years. Unlike the Karatsu ‘clays’, this stuff is really clay, the stretchy kind, and it was great fun to play with. I made 600 gram lumps and threw some beer tankards. Then, pulled some handles and attached them, no fuss, no cracking, easy. I could get used to this stuff. It was so easy I decided to make some more this week for the firing at the end of Feb.

A Nice Belgian

I sat down this evening with my last bottle of St.Feuillien Tripel. I had been saving it for a special occasion and in this case it was finding a wonderful hand blown beer glass.

This last weekend was one of the kurabiraki (open to the public) of Amabuki Sake Brewery in Miyaki Cho, Fukuoka. They do it twice a year, once in fall and once in winter. They invite a line up of artists of various flavors and open the whole compound to guests. The old buildings are magnificent, with the main brewing building at the center of everything. It was restored a few years back and the original timbers are breathtaking. The roof beams of this huge building are pine beams almost two feet in diameter. You can sit on the wide natural wood planks of the second floor and look up to their red/brown patina as you knock back a nice cup of chilled sake. I took my camera all three days of the show, and all three days forgot to take pictures. Doh!

One of the artists this time was glass blower, Akiko Maeda, who makes really nice work. Simple, warm, and organic, much more appealing than the standard fare which I usually find to be cold and .. well.. ‘glassy’.
She was gracious enough to trade me two of her cups for two of my bowls, I think we each thought we got the better deal, so it worked out great.

The St. Feuillien was delicious, by the way….