Slab Rolling

December 8, 2008

Taking a break from sanding, one of the least fun parts of this whole process…  So let’s see, it’s been about 2 1/2 weeks since I received word from RISD that I was invited to show in the New England Biennial and here’s where things stand:

I have made about 100 pages, about 1/2 of which are fired, the other half are still in their super fragile greenware state.  The studio is officially closed for a week and a half while they clean up and then run the Holiday Show and Sale, so I am kicked out and unable to make further tiles until after the Sale is over.  At first I was rather panicked by this idea, but now that it has arrived, I’m much less worried about it.  There are so many other things I can work on outside of studio, so in some ways it’s kind of nice to be forced to take a break from the late nights in studio and concentrate on other steps in the process.

Here’s a quick photo rundown on how this is happening:

Flattened porcelain on silk/satin to reduce marks made by the rollers

Flattened porcelain on silk/satin to reduce marks made by the rollers

I usually pass the slab through the roller 3-4 times so it doesn't get too stretched in any one direction

I usually pass the slab through the roller 3-4 times so it doesn't get too stretched in any one direction

Sheet flipped onto a board, after having been cleaned with a 12" drywall spatula from any hardware store

Sheet flipped onto a board, after having been cleaned with a 12" drywall spatula from any hardware store

Cut with 8 1/2" x 11" template and transferred to the boards on which they will air dry

Cut with 8 1/2" x 11" template and transferred to the boards on which they will air dry

Shelves in studio where they are drying--I usually fill this rack up in about 3 hours worth of work

Shelves in studio where they are drying--I usually fill this rack up in about 3 hours

OK, pretty uninteresting, I know… Anyone who has used a slab roller is bored–not very glamorous, but that’s what the last few weeks have consisted of.  Lots of slab rolling.  The only interesting part is the addition of nylon fiber to the clay to give it extra greenware strength.  When the fibers are thoroughly wedged into the porcelain, they form a sort of internal mesh that makes the slabs much stronger while working with them.  The fiber burns out in the kiln, but the addition of the nylon has greatly reduced the number of pieces I lose to breakage throughout the process.

Nylon fibers left on a wire after it has passed through the porcelain

Nylon fibers left on a wire after it has passed through the porcelain

Actually, the most exciting thing that has happened so far was the discovery of the perfect storage system for all of this.  As you can see by the flat shelf photo, there isn’t much space to store tiles in the studio and after filling the shelf in 3 hours, I would find myself stuck, unable to work further even if I had time… So I had to devise my own storage method for the greenware before it goes into the kiln, as well as after its been fired to transport.  I’ll save that for the next post…

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One Response to “Slab Rolling”

  1. shanalines Says:

    i like your fancy fabric 🙂


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