Tools That Ease Production

A number of nonessential tools streamline production in the studio by saving a lot of time. If a lot of ware is being produced and too much time is spent in preparation, it might be time to consider these options.Slab roller: A slab roller has two rollers and a tabletop through which  clay  is fed, sandwiched in canvas, and rolled to a desired uniform thickness. A slab roller is well suited for slab construction and tile work because a large slab can be rolled rather quickly and effortlessly to a specific thickness.

Extruder: By using pressure to push clay through a shaped die in an extruder, a potter can extrude handles, parts for pieces, or hollow forms such as tubes, squares, and hexagons. An extruder’s parts include a chamber that holds a die form and a lever to push the clay through. Clay is pushed through the chamber, through the die form, and an extrusion of a particular shape emerges. An assortment of die shapes-such as hollow circles, squares, hexagons, coils, and textured slabs­ can be used to suit any number of designs. You can even buy or make custom-designed dies.Pug mill: A pug mill is a powerful machine used to recycle clay. It has a chamber into which clay is placed with a large metal auger bit that rotates and mixes the clay. When the pug mill is on, it mixes and moves the clay forward to the front chamber, which extrudes a homogenous tube of clay. They are wonderful tools for a busy studio, but luxuries for a small studio-very pricey but worth the investment if you are using a lot of clay. They are useful for recycling clay and reducing preparation time, leaving more time free for the creative process. With infrequent use, however, pug mills will dry out and the clay will harden inside the cham­ ber, making for a tedious clean up. Pug mills and clay mixers should be used with extreme caution. Use care to ensure that no tools get into the chamber, especially metal tools that can shred into dangerous shards. Above all, keep your hands and clothing clear of all moving parts.