PPP: Advances in Forming Equipment

Ceramic artists and pottery producers don't often give forming equipment much thought. As Jeff Zamek points out in "Tools of the Trade," many forming tools and techniques have been handed down over decades and even centuries, with "inexpensive" and "effective" as the main concerns. But for potters who are looking to expand their business, having the right equipment can be crucial to optimizing time, energy and the bottom line. Fortunately, equipment suppliers continue to offer innovations designed to improve the pottery forming process. Following are some of the most recent advances in forming and related equipment.

Brent ie-x wheel

Wheels & Accessories

According to American Art Clay Co., Inc. (AMACO®), the new Brent® ie-x wheel includes many of the same features found in other, more expensive Brent wheels but at a lower price. The wheel is supported by a solid, 3/16-in., angle-iron frame; steel legs; and a 1-in.-thick, high-density wood tabletop. The extended tabletop has room to hold clay, sponges and tools, and is covered with a laminate surface for easy cleaning, while the legs are removable for easy portability and storage. The wheel's 1/3-hp, 6-amp, permanent-magnet DC motor features electronic, variable speed control for maximum torque and smooth response, and can handle 25 lbs of clay. The ie-x also features a self-tensioning belt to ensure maximum performance at any speed, and a reversing switch for changing the direction of the wheel head. The cast-aluminum foot pedal (standard on all Brent wheels) is designed to offer smooth control and a speed range of 0-240 rpm. Each wheel includes a free high-density, two-piece polypropylene-molded splash pan and a 14-in. AMACO Plasti-bat®. Call (800) 374-1600 or e-mail catalog@amaco.com.

Axner Power Arm
The Power Arm from Axner Co. Inc. is a jolly/jigger arm that attaches to the high-torque Axner pottery wheel to enable potters to quickly form bowls, plates and a variety of other clay shapes. The arm can also be used as a centering tool for potters who do not have the strength to center large amounts of clay. The company also offers mold methods for the new jolly/jigger arm and produces a full-sized jolly/jigger machine and accessories, including back cases and jigger heads in a variety of sizes. Call (800) 843-7057 or e-mail axner@axner.com .

For easier cleanup after throwing, Creative Industries has introduced a clay filtering and water recycling system called the Cink. According to the company, potters can pour all of their excess clay and throwing bucket slurry in the Cink; since the system is not attached to city plumbing, none of those materials will go down the drain. The system recycles all of the water, providing clean, filtered water for rinsing and cleaning, and saving on overall water usage. All of the clay is captured in one bucket for easy reuse or disposal. Call (619) 449-1834 or e-mail sales@creativewheels.com .

Giffin Grip
The Giffin Grip® from Giffin Tec Inc. is a trimming chuck for leather-hard or bisque thrown pottery that functions equally well for waxing feet and banding with oxides for glazing. After a simple one-time adjustment, the chuck quickly snaps on and off the wheel. It is designed to cut trimming time in half and to hold shapes (such as soup bowls) that might otherwise be left untrimmed. Call (800) 445-5969 or e-mail giffint@indra.com .

Stand-UP Decorating & Sculpting Wheel
Inspired by a potter with a bad back, Laguna Clay Co. recently introduced a new Stand-Up Decorating & Sculpting Wheel. Ideal for ceramic artists or sculptors, the wheel features a smoothly rotating work surface that can be adjusted from 29 to 44 in. (Custom heights are also available.) Users can operate the wheel in a standing position or while sitting on a stool. Features include solid tubular steel construction; a wide, stable tripod base; and a polished aluminum wheel head that is ideal for brushing or spraying glazes, detailed decorating or sculpting. Call (800) 4-LAGUNA or e-mail info@lagunaclay.com .

The advanced technology of Shimpo's RK-Whisper potter's wheel and the popular features of Shimpo's Velocity V75 potter's wheel have been combined to create the second model in Shimpo's Whisper series potter's wheels-the VL-Whisper. The new wheel is designed to be responsive and powerful, with high torque at all speeds and extremely quiet operation. Features include a brushless DC motor that is smooth, quiet and powerful and requires no maintenance; an electronic controller that maintains the desired speed under all load conditions; a broad speed range; reversible operation; a built-in breaker that protects the motor from overload; a remote foot pedal and adjustable height to accommodate all throwing positions; and a wheelhead that turns freely at 0 rpm and serves as a banding wheel. A two-piece splash pan is included. Call (800) 237-7079 or e-mail info@shimpoamerica.com .

MKM Decorating Disks

Dies, Molds & Extruders

MKM Decorating DisksTM (patent pending) from MKM Pottery Tools, LLC can be used to make square, triangular, hexagonal or other shaped plates quickly and easily; guide patterns with glaze or slip decoration; perfectly align handles and spouts; precisely alter bowl rims in thirds, quarters or other increments; and accurately mark bats and templates. Holes along the radial lines allow potters to mark through the disk to the soft, leather-hard or bisque clay below. Each unit comes with two 15-in. disks-one for even divisions and one for odd-and an instruction sheet. Smaller 4-in. disks are also available for use with mugs, cups and other small items, and for decorating the interiors of bowls and plates. Call (920) 830-6860 or e-mail MKMTools@sbcglobal.net .

North Star custom dies
North Star Equipment, Inc. has developed a system to produce custom dies quickly and accurately from a simple pencil sketch received by fax. The dies can be designed for any make of power or hand extruder or pugmill from nearly any material, including plastic, plywood, hardboard, aluminum and stainless steel. According to the company, the cost of these custom dies is comparable to that of other off-the-shelf dies, even for complex two-part (hollow) dies. Call (800) 231-7896 or e-mail info@northstarequipment.com .

The Slumphump from Pure & Simple Pottery Products is a durable plastic mold that allows potters to pour their own low-cost plaster molds quickly and easily. Its reversible design enables both a slump mold and a hump mold to be created from the same piece. The mold features a tapered wall that allows the mold depth to be changed simply by adding more or less plaster. The clay slab is then draped over or into the finished plaster mold to create beautiful handmade products. Available in 14 popular shapes and sizes, the Slumphump can be used to create a simple plate or baking dish, or can be used as the starting point for a unique, elaborate design. Call (707) 459-1483 or e-mail claytool@pspottery.com .

ResTech-US custom resin die
Porous resin dies supplied by ResTech-US can yield over 15 times the number of pressings of plaster on average, yet cost only eight to 10 times more, according to the company. The dies are also flexible and can be drilled, taped, repaired and sanded. Damaged dies have often been restored and placed back into service-a trait not shared by other, less flexible materials. Many potters have discovered that pressing with resin dies is much more efficient than other forming methods, and that the money spent on the dies and associated RAM pressing equipment is quickly recouped in higher yields and fewer mold replacements. Potters are also reaping benefits from the enhanced quality and consistency achieved by pressing with the resin molds. Call (614) 443-0626 or e-mail info@restechus.com .

Superkleen extruder
The 4-in. all-aluminum Superkleen extruder for porcelain or white clay is reportedly Scott Creek Pottery's most popular model. The extruder features a removable aluminum barrel for easy cleaning, a removable barrel cap to facilitate die changes, and a removable plunger for convenient loading. The cast aluminum inner die holders enable potters to extrude a variety of hollow forms, and a number of interchangeable accessories can also be used to increase the flexibility of the device. For example, a potter using a 4-in. die kit can attach a 4-in. expansion box (pictured on p. 27) to increase the output dimensions to 6.5 x 6.5 in. The company also offers

4- and 6-in. cast aluminum square tile cutters with beveled cutting edges. Call (800) 939-8783 or e-mail clayextruder@scottcreekpottery.com .

Bailey Model A Pugmill


Pugmills are typically associated more with the clay mixing functions in a studio. However, some models can be used to recycle scrap from forming operations while others can function as extruders, making them worthy of mention as forming equipment accessories. For example, the Model A Pugmill from Bailey Pottery Equipment Corp. can convert dry trimmings directly into throwable clay, thanks to a new shredding screen. The screen works with the efficient mixing action of the barrel to handle the trimmings in just one pass, without the use of slaking or plaster bats. According to Bailey, potters simply collect their dry trimmings, follow a fast-soak preparation procedure, drop the clay into the machine's enlarged hopper, and run the pugging cycle. Within minutes, the entire batch will be thoroughly mixed and pugged out, ready to use for new pottery. The machine is available in 550+ and 800+ lb/hr units. Call (800) 431-6067 or e-mail info@baileypottery.com .

The PM-50 and PM-100 Pugger Mixers from Peter Pugger Mfg. can also be used to recycle wet or dry scrap. The PM-50 mixes a batch size between 60-85 lbs of clay, while the PM-100 mixes between 125-175 lbs. In addition to their reclaiming capabilities, the pugmills can be used to mix moist clay from powder and water, blend two or more different bodies, add materials (wet or dry) to an already moist body, or adjust the moisture of an already wet body. When the clay is thoroughly mixed, it is pugged out in the form of compacted logs.

Venco Super-Twin pugmill
The new Super-twin pugmill from Venco is a multi-purpose machine that can be modified from non-deairing to deairing and even to tile extrusion by adding one or more optional "clip-on" module kits. With the standard 3.1-in. diameter nozzle, up to 880 lbs/hr of clay can be de-aired. The Super-twin's barrel (5-in. in diameter) and nozzle clip together with bayonet-style fittings, and both can be removed in minutes without tools for cleaning. All components that come into contact with the clay are constructed from stainless steel, making the unit ideal for processing fine porcelains or where clay contamination must be avoided. The system also features the VENCO feed system, which is designed to provide safe and effortless feeding of clay into the large-volume twin-auger mixing chamber, thereby enabling efficient blending and mixing of clay bodies. Call (61) 8-9399-5265 or e-mail venwest@iinet.net.au .

Editor's note: All statements about the products included in this article are manufacturers' claims, and neither Pottery Production Practices nor Ceramic Industry endorses any of the products mentioned. Additional new product information is published regularly in print issues of Ceramic Industry and online at http://www.ceramicindustry.com . To submit a press release for a future issue, e-mail suttons@bnpmedia.com .

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