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Altering with Kitchen Tools

July 6, 2012

Artists are resourceful individuals using found objects to create textures or alter pieces. As I discovered in college as a poor student many scraps and random things can be used as tools. One of my favorite print making “blocks” was made from card board, glitter, yarn, and glue. All things I could find around the house. The Craft Guild where I work now is no different and one must be cautious not to throw away stuff lying around since the “junk” might be someone’s perfect altering tool. I would never have thought to use a cheese cutter to alter my pieces, but it is a common tool around the clay room. I have had some trouble not cutting through the entire wall of the piece, but thanks to some tips from other clay people I have made some fun things!

The cheese cutter allows one to take a round piece thrown on the wheel and create flat sides. It is difficult to use a cheese cutter when the piece is already been shaped. I have frequently cut holes in the wall where it curves out. I have been much more successful not cutting wholes when I shape the pieces after I have cut the sides. I center and throw a cylinder like normal, except for leaving the sides thicker than normal. When I have pulled up the walls as high as I want them I place even marks around the rim with my stencil so that my cuts will be evenly placed. Then I line up the cheese cutter on the rim between the marks and pull straight down. The bar on the cheese cutter is handy to keep the wire the same distance throughout the cut. I have found that one cut is all you get. If I mess up a little and try to cut the same spot again the bit I cut gets stuck to the wall and little messy bits gunk up that side, but with a bit of practice one cut is all you need.

Once the sides are all cut it is time to shape the piece. The current project is a bowl so I what a gentle curve out and then up. I push out from the inside of the bowl and do my best not to touch the outside because I will lose the edges of the walls. I use my sponge to push out first, but then switch to my rounded, red, rubber rib. It has a perfect curve to shape the walls. If the clay is stiff or stubborn I will also use my rounded wooden rib.

One of the neat features created by the cheese cutter are the bumps along the top of the rim, but in order for the piece to be functional I have to clean it up a little bit. Lightly pressing with my fingers I create a slight slant along the rim of the bowl but keep the little bumps.

My other favorite part of using a cheese cutter is the great wave pattern created by trimming a foot. I make sure to leave enough clay at the bottom so I can trim an angle at the belly and a nice size foot.

I also made some cups with a cheese cutter to match the bowls and then had lots of fun painting flowers on them. The cups and bowls are already out of the kiln and I have some fun finished pictures below! Enjoy!

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From → Pottery Projects

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