Imagine using clay like fabric, cutting and joining it to make all sorts of shapes. That’s slab building for you. It involves rolling out flat pieces of clay and assembling them into objects. This technique is perfect for creating more geometric shapes like boxes, platters, or even more complex sculptures.
Steps in Slab Building
- Rolling Out the Slabs: Begin by rolling out your clay into flat sheets. Thickness matters here – not too thin to avoid breaking, not too thick to keep it manageable.
- Cutting the Slabs: Once you have your slabs, use a knife or wire clay cutter to cut out the shapes you need for your project. Think of it like cutting out pattern pieces for sewing.
- Smoothing Edges: Smooth out the edges of your slabs. Rough edges can lead to cracks and don’t join as neatly.
- Scoring and Slipping: Before joining two pieces, score (rough up) the edges and apply slip (a mixture of clay and water). This is like the glue that holds everything together.
- Assembling the Pieces: Carefully join the pieces together, making sure the scored and slipped edges make good contact.
- Reinforcing the Joints: Add small coils of clay along the inside seams and blend them in. This reinforces the joints, making your structure sturdier.
- Finishing Touches: Once assembled, you can add decorative elements or textures. This is where you can really personalize your piece.
- Drying: Allow your piece to dry slowly and evenly. Fast drying can cause warping or cracking.
My Tips and Pointers
- Even Rolling: Aim for uniform thickness in your slabs. Uneven slabs can lead to uneven drying and warping.
- Be Gentle: When joining the slabs, be gentle but firm. You want a good bond without distorting the shapes.
- Patience with Drying: Patience is key in drying. Cover your piece with plastic and let it dry gradually to prevent cracking.
- Creative Textures: Experiment with textures on your slabs before assembling them. It can add a unique touch to your piece.
- Support Structures: For larger pieces, consider adding internal supports while the clay is still wet.
- Plan Your Project: Think about your design before you start. It helps to have a clear idea of what you’re building.
- Tool Kit: Keep your tools handy – knives, ribs, rolling pins, and sponges. They’re all part of the slab builder’s toolkit.
My Final Thoughts
Slab building is like the cool, methodical cousin of the more freeform pottery techniques. It’s amazing for projects where you need straight edges and crisp lines. Plus, it’s a great way to really plan and execute a more designed piece. Whether you’re a meticulous planner or a free spirit, there’s something in slab building for you. So, roll out those slabs and start creating!