Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Catalyst Tools come to NCECA!

Wow, the past few weeks have been a blur as we've been preparing for NCECA.  I'm very excited to go to the conference, where I'll be demo-ing Catalyst tools by Princeton Artist Brush Co.. The Ceramic Shop has been carrying their various silicone blades and wedges and plastic contour ribs for about a year now, and our customers have been very happy with the unique patterns and high quality of these products. I'm a convert too, using them for my own work very frequently now. I've done a few posts about NCECA demos I've made using various Catalyst tools, so I figured today I would highlight some specific items that I happen to like, a LOT, and use for a few different things.

So Catalyst tools are made by a company that specializes in artist brushes -- this is why the silicone blades have such nice, ergonomic wooden handles.  I have found they just feel really good to use, and that makes a big difference when you're in the studio and go to reach for a favorite tool. Likewise, the wide variety of blades that Catalyst offers can perform a wide range of tasks.  These two factors -- ergonomics and function -- really come together in the mini-blades, which have become our all-around studio staple here.  

One blade to rule them all.

The awesome blade pictured above is a WORK HORSE.  For anyone who does extensive small-batch glaze testing, this tool just might be your next indispensable item.  Our tech, Rachel, uses this on a daily basis for mixing up 100- and 200-gram test batches.  The small size and angular shape of this particular blade makes the most of your materials, pulling every last bit of glaze out of the corners of your tiny test sieve.  The blade also holds up in the long term; forcing glaze tests through a screen can be rough on soft tools, but these high-grade blades really hold up over time.  There are several different versions of this blade, too, with shapes that can carry out many different tasks.

Another thing that this blade is awesome for is compressing the bottom of smaller, closed-neck forms.  I make a lot of tiny cups, for example; because I have giant hands and can pretty much palm a basketball, my anatomy can, uh, get in the way a bit when throwing.  This blade has solved my problems on this front and you would never know the resulting work was made by someone with digits the size of ballpark franks. 

Next up! The Catalyst wedge.  Like the catalyst blades, these hearty wedges are made from soft, yet tough, silicone.  While the patterned edge of each wedge is tapered, the 'grippy' end of the wedge is really thick -- about 3/4" -- so you can really get a good grip on it when you're throwing on the wheel and your hands are covered in water and slippery clay.  I just really like the pattern on the wedge pictures above, which is the Catalyst Silicone Wedge Rib 2 -- love those sharp angles! Here's a detail shot of the profile the wedge creates:

Standard 259, bisqued to ^06. 

As highlighted in a previous post, these textured wedges, along with the stiffer contour ribs shown below, can also create great patterns in handbuilt slab work -- they're great for making handles, say, that compliment your wheelthrown forms.  If anyone has used these tools and gotten a unique/awesome/fun result, we would love to hear from you! In the meantime, I'll be packing up our tools for the conference, just a short six days away!...

We have Contour Ribs for your every need!

1 comment:

  1. i will definitely be looking for you at NCECA. i saw a few of these tools at Hobby Lobby, of all places. very glad to know you will be featuring them