Plaster turning on the lathe

After initial induction into the technique and safety of the machinery used, this year; I could draw a detailed design and create a template, to produce an exact replica of my plans in as high detail and accuracy as my novice skills allow.

Relating to my themes of simplicity, aspiration, and mass production I chose to create a 20161130_202330simple design of a cup that I could practice translating in high accuracy into a plaster prototype, using a lather.
Reading “The Workshop Guide to Ceramics” by Duncan Hooson and Anthony Quinn to guide me, I created a technical drawing to help me record all the details I would need later when turning the plaster.

The simple shape was inspired by my catalyst object from Ken Stradling collection, or rather its first version, with the distinctive base curve with protruding legs, giving it its symbolic name “Donkey”.

I transferred the drawing onto a thick card to guide me in my progress while turning the plaster.
Due to the thickness of the card, I think I lose some details, so next time I’ll have to use thinner one.

To create the 4 separate legs I turned a distinctive foot for the cup, with intention to try to carve and dremle away the excess later.

video-1480523716 video-1480523709


Using a multitude of tools and carving away very carefully and little, while often checking the progress with the template was it seemed the best approach to acquire a high accuracy.
The biggest struggle really was to imagine and see the different angles and try to recreate them in multitude of places at the same time so that the template could slide in a bit further each time.












At the end I was rather happy with the result. The template was slightly off a millimetre or 2, but all the angles and curves were exactly how I wanted them to be.
Moreover, I really enjoyed this highly controlled and measured, then carefully detailed and intricate process to create something exactly as designed.
However, next time I could try more creative and spontaneous approaches?

Tea for Two – Progress/Process

Progress of the 4 weeks, working on the Tea for Two project, illustrated through photographs.


Stitching number of pieces of fabric to create moulds for the parts of tea set.
Tea for 2
Filling the fabric moulds with plaster to create number of plaster prototypes.
These then can be used to create plaster moulds for casting with slip.Tea for 2




More plaster shapes and components.Tea for 2






Plaster saucers.

Tea for 2


Used fabric moulds dipped in black slip and fired.
This method is actually much faster and simpler than making plaster moulds, with better, undisturbed detail. More experimental shapes are possible, just less functional.
Tea for 2


Slip-casted and fired cups.Tea for 2


Fired slipware, some of them glazed, with oxide wash and transparent glaze, or other.
Tea for 2 Tea for 2

Progress on throwing & turning skills

Throwing on and off for about 2 years, I really want to extend and perfect my skills in throwing and turning vessels in this first year project.

throwing with 1kg ball of cal

These are my latest trials in throwing with a larger, 1kg ball of clay of White St Thomas.

By this point, I found centring and pulling up the walls relatively easy, as well as centring and turning leather hard vessels.
Being so scared turning my pots before and always thinking how impossibly hard it is; by now I must say I am looking forward to turn every single vessel I throw on the wheel.
However, there was significant collapsing and failing when adapting the shape of a larger cylinder, showing me that I need plenty more practice.

trying to throw identical cups
That was after setting a small challenge of producing number of identical cups
from 400g of Ash White. Drawing the design and then using a ruler to measure the width and hight while throwing, I managed to produce 9 reasonably same cups.


This exercise was great to limit myself into a one, slightly inward curved shape, and repeat it over and over; focusing my skill to develop in areas important when throwing: controlling the hight, width, thickness of the walls, curvature, etc.

However, I still feel that I don’t have full control in ensuring the shape and size is identical, therefore I shall repeat this challenge again to be more consistent in my work.

I also turned each cup to finally learn it, therefore the result was always slightly different, not really limiting myself but rather just play and get practice in the pure timing of the leather hard stage and centring and not cutting through the walls or bases.

extruded handle
I pulled handlealso tried to apply handles onto the cups. First pulling a handle, which proved to be rather tricky, but after a few attempts the result was acceptable.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the result; so I touched the extruder for the first time.
The result was even less satisfying, with the extruder disk providing too thick handles for my cups.
However, the immediacy and industrial, like a pipe or cable look was desirable, so I’ll have to look at producing my own extruder plates later.

Here are my earliest thrown object from 500g balls of Ash White and Terracotta at the beginning of this year. Always going for as thin and light walls as possible, but still rather modern, industrial and rather minimalistic look.

In the very near future I have to look more on functionality of my vessels. In their shapes as well as features such as handles, spouts and lids.
earlier throwing practice earlier throwing pieces