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Whenever I saw pots that were decorated with a uniform pattern (either painted on, slip trailed, or carved), I assumed the person drew the design freehand. It never occurred to me that I am not the only one who can't do that! In fact, I have since learned that most people draw gridlines to help them in their designs.
By marking off a grid pattern, it is easy to make reptitive patterns (such as an all over diamond pattern), and also easy to transfer a drawing that you like to a pot.
If the piece is greenware or bisque, you can draw the lines with a regular pencil. The marks will burn off in the firing. But what to do if the piece is leatherhard? In that case you can can use watered down food coloring. Paint the lines on with a thin brush, then proceed with your underglaze or slip decoration or carving.
To transfer a design from a piece of paper, draw grid lines on the paper and on your piece, then focus on matching one grid at a time. It works quite well for those of us who are "drawing challenged."
What if you have a design that repeats around your piece. Marking off 1/2 or 1/4 sections is pretty easy by eye, but 1/3 or 1/5 is a little harder. There are cake decorating tools available with these sections marked off. But you can make your own quickly with ordinary straws.
Cut your straws all the same size. You will need the same number of pieces as the number of divisions you want (ie 3 straws for thirds, 5 straws for fifths.) Thread a string through the straws, one after another, and tie a knot in the string. You will have a great guide for marking the sections on your pot. Use longer straws for large pieces, and shorter straws for smaller pieces.
Doesn't it sometimes seem like wheel throwers get all the cool tools? Well not this time. We first heard about these tools from Lana Wilson who uses them to make boxes. Instead of butting two slabs together to make a corner, it is often better to cut them at 45 degree angles. You get more surface area and a cleaner corner.
So we got these great tools that Bob Carver makes by hand, from beautiful hardwoods. We have tools to cut 45 degree angles (for making rectangles), and also 60 degree angles (for triangles) and 30 degree angles (for 6 sided pieces.)
On this page you will also see the "Bringle Pick" and "Clay Scalpel", other nifty little tools for cutting and trimming. And OK (for you wheel throwers) Bob also made us some special throwing sticks for teacups and mugs.
Another new tool has been very popular since its introduction at NCECA. The Ultimate Edger has many uses, and now we have it on sale! I can't describe it so you will have to click on the link and look at it.