Wildwood Pottery

Hand-crafted Porcelain and Stoneware
 


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Trimming

          When the bowl has dried to the leather hard stage, it is ready for trimming.  At this point, the clay is firm enough to hold its shape, but is still moist enough to trim easily.  If fingerprints and other marks are left on the piece when it is handled, it is still too wet and needs to dry further before trimming. 

          The potter removes the piece from the bat and carefully looks at the inside and outside curves, deciding just how much should be trimmed away and where the foot ring should be placed on the bottom of the pot.  Then the piece is inverted on the wheel and re-centered.  The potter may do this by tapping gently or by using a finger or needle to see where it is off center and then moving the pot back toward center.  When centered, pieces of soft clay are pressed onto the wheel head around the pot, stabilizing it and preventing it from moving during the trimming process.

          With a trimming tool, the potter begins to trim small amounts of clay from the side of the pot as the wheel revolves slowly until the outline of the side of the piece mirrors the curvature of the inside of the piece.  The foot ring is created by trimming the edge of the base and also the center area of the bottom of the pot, leaving a raised ring around the margin of the base.  The potter may use a sponge to smooth the trimmed area if she wishes or she may leave it as it is.

          Now the potter removes the wads of clay which held the pot in place on the wheel head, removes the pot, and gives it a final inspection. 

          If handles or other pieces are to be added, the potter will have prepared them in advance so they are at approximately the same moisture content as the freshly trimmed pot.  They are cut, fitted, and applied using slip to adhere them to the pot. 

          Now the pot is set aside to dry completely.  Since clay shrinks as it dries, it is important for the pot to dry uniformly.  If a handle dries more quickly than the rest of the pot, it may crack at the joint.  For this reason, pots with handles or other added parts are covered in plastic for a day or two to encourage even drying of the piece.  When the pot is completely dry, it is ready for firing

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Copyright 2002-2008 by Merrilyn Reeves
Revised: 05/08/10 09:46 PM -0700