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Tips For Making Clay Multiples
Even as a professional potter, there are things I struggle with. Making multiples is one of those things. I dread it when a customer orders a "set" of mugs, bowls etc... You see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and it is very difficult for me to accept anything less than perfect.
Working with a mentor a while back, she gave me some good suggestions. I was too stubborn to put those suggestions into practice at first, so I continued to struggle. Finally, while sitting at the wheel one day, I decided to throw just for fun. I had a blast!
Surprisingly, a lot of the pieces were similar! More importantly though, it reminded me that clay is supposed to be fun, and I was wasting fun on worry. It was time to buckle down, and try some of those suggestions, before I gave up all together.
That being said, I've learned how to appreciate the fact that I'm not perfect. There are ways around achieving "exact", and accepting "close" is getting easier.
Here are a few of the tips I learned:
- Start with the same amount of clay for each piece. Using a scale to weigh the clay is important in the beginning.
- Throw, throw, throw. Repeat action builds muscle memory, which in turn, produces similar pieces. Think of it this way... when you were first learning to drink from a cup, you had to concentrate on it. If you grab a glass from the cupboard, fill it with water and take a sip, you could still carry on a conversation with someone in the room and never miss a beat. You didn't have to focus on it because you've done it so many times that you've built muscle memory.
- If you have an order for 4 mugs, throw 12. I'll bet in the end, there are at least 4 that are close enough alike to create the set you need.
- Try using a rule guide attached to your wheel for consistent height. A pair of chopsticks, a rubber band, and a lump of clay work great.
- Don't try to make them look alike, just enjoy the process. After all, this is supposed to be fun, right?
- If all else fails, hand build a set. They are easy to duplicate with a pattern, look great, and help you achieve your goal.
If you have the same difficulties with multiples, or have a suggestion, post it in the comments.
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