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   TECHNICAL NOTES

TRIMMING

 

Overview  |  Wheel  |  Tools  |  Brace  |  Marking  |  Incising  |  Cutting  |  Forming  |  Trimming  |  Burnishing

  • Trimming the undersurface of a ceramic piece, also called tooling, is an important part of the creative process, although it is often subsumed by the more visible embellishments that occur above. Nonetheless, it is fundamental that it be done well so as to add to the overall artful composition of the piece
  • The trimming process is too often ignored entirely or given insufficient thought and care by ceramic artists. Doing so diminishes the piece in terms of its overarching design and construction.
  • Despite the obvious fact that the foot of a work is largely hidden, its creation is an integral and essential component of ceramic artistry. It contributes greatly to the finished product.
  • Plate trimming is an art form all unto itself. It has to take into account the contours of the top or front of the object, how thin the walls of the piece are, how the foot should be designed, shaped and added, and how it should be burnished and signed by the artist. It offers an opportunity to give the work stability and structural substance.
  • All of these critical trimming considerations contribute to the beauty and grace of a plate or other ceramic art form.

  • Trimming the foot of the plate is done on the potter's wheel.
  • The first step for tooling or trimming a plate is to place it face down on the wheel head.
  • Then fix it in place using a Giffen Grip, shown here as the white area equipped with blue holders.
  • Note the three trimming tools at the left side of the plate on the surface of the wheel area.

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  • These are the three simple trimming tools that are used in this process, illustrated here.
  • The first of the set consists of the wooden tool (top) used for burnishing the back of the plate to achieve a smooth finished appearance. This particular device is called a Kemper wooden modeling tool.
  • The second (middle) is the needle point metal tool used for creating concentric circles.
  • The third (bottom) is a double-ended ribbon tool for cutting or trimming away the clay.

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  • The Giffen Grip is attached to the wheel head and the plate is carefully centered on the Giffen Grip.
  • Tiny indentations are made with my fingernails. They are important identifying markers to help demarcate how much clay will be trimmed away in creating the plate's foot.
  • The blue grip holders are in place at three points around the perimeter of the plate to hold it firm and steady.

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  • This is a close-up view of the small fingernail marks placed to identify precisely where the trimming will be done.

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  • Two concentric circles have been incised in the surface of the clay with one of the tools.
  • These circles will identify where the final foot will be located.

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  • The wheel is spun rapidly to facilitate the process of cutting away the previously marked clay edges.

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  • More and more of the clay is trimmed away as the foot is created on the turning wheel.

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  • This is the double-ended tool that is used for timming the plate at this stage of the process.
  • As shown, the trimming process is nearing completion.

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  • The plate is now burnished with a wooden tool, one of the three tools used for trimming.
  • This completes the process for trimming the underside of the plate with formation of a delicately designed foot.

 


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