Thursday, February 6, 2014

Catalyst tools for every occassion

In keeping up with our NCECA countdown, I finished some of the mugs that I threw a couple days ago using Princeton Artist Brush Co.'s Catalyst tools.  These tools are great because they do double (even triple) duty as studio implements -- I first used Catalyst Contour Rib 24 as a rib to make a cool pattern on the exterior of this thrown form, and then I used it again to make a handle. 

Brought to you by Catalyst Contour Rib 24.

To make the handle, I rolled out a thin slab and made sure that the surface was a little moist and slick.  I dipped the Catalyst rib into my water bucket, and then made a series of firm, downward stroked across the surface of the clay.  The idea is to dig the patterned surface all the way down so you get the same clean, carved lines seen on the outside of the mug's body.  Then, I took the slab and rolled it -- so that pictured handle is actually hollow.  After that, I realized that the handle kind of looked like a caterpillar, so I added some handbuilt elements for a decorative -- some might even say a little creepy! -- effect.

Hello there.

So, yes, moving this form through the finishing process will be fun -- I'm particularly excited to see what sort of cool textures I can get when I combine these Catalyst tools with Amaco's velvet underglazes. Stay tuned on that front -- anyone who has visited my studio knows how much I love underglaze + texture.

I also added a few more simple slab handles to some other forms I had thrown.  My goal here was to experiment with the versatility of the Catalyst tools, yes -- but also, I was interested in seeing how they could lend themselves to projects that are quick and easy to complete, while still delivering impressive results.  The handles below took all of 5 minutes to make and apply -- again, I simply rolled out a thin slab, made sure both the surface and tools were moist, and then confidently dragged a pattern across the surface - for these handles, I used Catalyst Contour Rib 62.  In the mugs below, I simply cut geometric slabs and applied those to the forms (with a minimal amount of clean-up). 

I handled it.

Nice, simple, clean, and quick -- which makes the Catalyst tools a great addition to a classroom or any studio where projects have to be completed in a limited time. Also, as a side note about the finishing of the bases of the mugs shown above, I used my trusty Xiem Sgraffito & Detailing set to carve a cool pattern when the bodies were leather-hard.  You can carve later in the game, yes, but doing it while the clay is still a little bit wet cuts down on the dust you create and the strain on your wrists.

So that's what I've been doing to prepare our demo's for NCECA - what have you been doing to get ready for the big conference?  41 days and counting until The Ceramic Shop descends upon Brew City! 

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