Sunday, May 30, 2010

Foam Trimming Bat

During a recent workshop in Atlanta the topic of the Giffin Grip and trimming came up during lunch. Several attendees expressed their love for the Giffen Grip. I have a Giffin Grip and I too find it very useful. However, if the pot is not perfectly centered I find that trimming can be a little challenging. I explained that I sometimes use the Giffin Grip but that most times I use my foam bat for trimming. I received an email asking me how I made the foam bat. In case anyone else is looking for an alternative for trimming I'm posting the information here.

I went to a local cloth store and bought a couple of square yards of green half-inch this foam:

I cut the foam in the approximate shape of the bat - being careful to make it about an inch or two bigger than the bat. **You do NOT want to cut it too small**. I used a pressboard bat since I stopped using them some time ago for throwing (I found they warped when wet).

I sprayed a heavy coating of adhesive on the surface of the bat. I used standard adhesive that comes in a spray can (like spray paint) that you can get at Lowe's or Home Depot. I placed the cut-out foam on top of the bat and pressed down to ensure the entire surface of the foam mat was in contact with adhesive. I let that sit overnight. The next day I cut the foam with scissors to match the shape of the bat.

View from underneath:

View from above:
The lines you see on the foam are guides to help center. I used a Sharpie pen to do this. The bat was place on my wheel and I started it spinning at about the speed I use to center clay. I held my hand very steady (using my leg as a brace) and placed the pen on the foam bat near the center. After the first circle was complete I lifted the pen, moved it out approximately one-half inch and repeated the process until I reached the end of the foam. The centering lines have really helped and I highly recommend them.

I quickly discovered that I needed to trim pieces that were larger than the bat pictured above. While in St. Petersburg I stopped by The Highwater Clay store at St. Pete Clay and bought a large bat (3/4" thick by 22" wide). I used this bat to make a larger foam bat to trim. Here it is:

From the side showing the thickness...

Tips for centering your pot:
  1. I place the pot in the center of the bat and get it as close to the nearest marking as possible.
  2. I start the wheel turning very slowly and place my finger near the bottom of the pot.
  3. As the wheel head turns you will be able to judge how centered it is. Stop the wheel and adjust accordingly.
  4. Once centered push down on the pot to help stabilize it.
I can usually center a pot on the foam board in about 30 seconds. I like using it so much for trimming that I only use the Giffin Grip when I have to.

Good luck and I hope this explanation has helped!


Dan Finnegan said...

I liked this post very much...up to the point where you describe how to center the pot. You need to learn how to 'tap on center'. Fastest, funnest way to center any pot.
I have foam pads of varying thickness...sometimes a half inch is too thick for small pots.

Mike said...

I agree with you that tap on center is the best way. I've used that method in the past. I'm not as good at it as I would like. You tap on center while the pot is on the foam pad? I've never even thought about trying that. I would think the friction between the pot and the pad wouldn't allow for it. If you do it that way let me know and I'll give it a shot. Thanks!

Mr. Young's Art said...

Cool tip! I have all the materials already - I will put one together tomorrow! Thanks, you just saved me big bucks, as I was going to order a Giffin Grip soon. I can now take it off the order form.

Debi said...

Great tip! This is going to make trimming a lot easier. Thanks so much for sharing!

Christeena said...

If you don't want to do this and already have a Giffin Grip, they just came out with an add-on for trimming distorted pieces. Bought mine at NCECA.