I’m making the most of the Easter Holidays and enforced isolation by improving my pottery skills. The main project has been to learn about slip casting and slab building.

I’ve been using proper casting slip (rather than stuff I’ve made myself that is clay with water in it) and it’s working really well so far. I’m revisiting a potential product I tried to make a couple of years ago – the “Cabeer”, a big beer mug that looks like a tree trunk.

My aim has been to do smaller ones that could be coffee mugs and experimenting with slip casting to get a nice thin-walled mug. Slip casting is when you pour the watery clay mixture into a mould and allow it to dry, building up thin layers to make a product.

To create the mugs, I carved into a flat slab of clay, creating a tree bark effect. Then I made a plaster mould of the clay. This can be used in two different ways to product the slabs for building the mugs. Firstly, as a push mould, when you push clay into it. Or it could be a slip mould, where the slip is poured in.

The slip mould technique seems to work better for getting the fine details of the bark and for making a nice thin walled cup. After that, the slab of clay is made into a tube and then a round base and handle are attached.

There are about two dozen ready to go into the kiln now and I’m excited to fire them and start glazing. I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out.

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