Studio Working Tips
Ideas and photos in this section reflect years of
experience resulting in methods
that make working more efficient and comfortable.
|Robert is a working
potter, and has made
his living from the sale
of his pots for the past 38 years.
|His studio has undergone many renovations, accommodating changes in the
types of pottery he makes,
and the techniques in which he works.
These stamps are made
and bisque fired.
nature of bisque stamps means they do not stick when pressed into
leather hard clay.
2000 Robert has stamped his pots with this unique chop, or trademark.
The chop is a stylization of the “watersculptures”, he made from
addition to applying his “watersculpture” chop, he signs
"Compton" in small print on the foot of each piece.
of Robert's pots are marked by a small stamp on the foot. These
stamps vary in design as they indicate a specific clay body used when
making that particular pot.
Using multiple firing
techniques has resulted in his developing several clay bodies. Each body
reacts differently depending on the atmosphere and firing technique.
By stamping the pots he
is able to track the bisque pots, allowing him to chose pieces for a
specific firing, and track the results of the clay body after the
Robert does little or no decoration
with brushwork on his pottery.
By using texturing devices he creates
a surfaces which are well suited for celadon glaze effects.
This tool cuts a nice
pattern into leather hard clay.
The roller is from an old fashioned
pencil sharpener. There are usually two rollers in a pencil sharpener.
handle is a piece of bent metal coat hanger.
This short piece of
cord, is taken from a Japanese kimono tie.
The cord is rolled into the freshly
before it is removed from the wheel.
The resulting texture is
when glaze pools in the rope depressions.
The word "Jomon" translates to
Wet and Dry Towels
Wet and Dry Towels
decades of throwing, Robert discovered that keeping a wet hand towel at
the wheel keeps the work station clean and dust free.
By wiping your hands with a wet
towel, you avoid clay from drying on your skin. It also
prevents slop from transferring to the floor . When clay dries on your
skin it increases abrasion causing red sore hands and arms.
Keep a wet towel that
you wash frequently,
and a second clean dry towel.
Use a good skin
before and after throwing.
|Throwing Tool Rack
After years of searching in his water
bucket for throwing tools, such as sponges and ribs. Robert designed a two tiered tool rack (with a half moon bottom) which fits securely into and over his water
A few holes in the top for needle tools, and wire hanger on the side,
speeds up locating tools, when your hands are coated with
Electric Glaze Mixing
| Electric Drill with Wire
Robert uses this type mixer when mixing dry minerals.
When the dry materials are blended a pre-measured amount of water is
and allowed to soak for several hours (or overnight).
Once the glaze is wet, he prefers using the manual rubber
plunger, for both convenience and efficiency.
Electric Drill with Wire Mixer
This is one of many different metal
devices, that can be used on an electric drill,
and will swirl glaze in a bucket.
One problem with all metal mixers is the potential for shredding the
surface of the plastic bucket.
It is even possible to puncture the side
or bottom of a 5
gallon plastic bucket
if used too aggressively.
Manual Glaze Mixing
|Plunger as Mixer
A toilet plunger that has four 1 inch holes
drilled into the rubber, makes a great plunger mixer. Pushing the
plunger down forces glaze up and out the
It can also be used as a paddle to stir glaze when it settles.
A great feature of this device is that it is very clean to use.
plunger remains submersed at or near the bottom of the glaze bucket,
which means there is virtually no splashing.
Plunger as Mixer
Robert first saw this method of mixing glazes when
giving workshops in Ireland.
It is an extremely low tech method for
without electricity and without splashing.
Methods for Mixing Clays
|Wood Fired Clay Dryer
New Zealand 1995
is a simple device for
reclaiming or cleaning clay.
Slop and Slip Clays are poured into the pan dryer (above right).
The liquid clay is air dried from above while a wood fire under the pan
the slip permitting it to dry evenly, on humid days.
The wooden barrel (above
left) was used to settle stones and debris
from locally dug clay. The liquid
was then scooped into the pan dryer.
Robert used an industrial Dough mixer
for over 30 years. This would mix 600lb batches
of clay. He usually started with 200 lbs of slop, adding 400
lbs of powdered clay, and water, to bring a batch to the right consistency.
Currently Robert has clay mixed by an industrial supplier. He now feels the
storage required and the dust resulting from producing his own clay, took up
too much time, energy and space in his studio.