An Apple computer-loving friend of mine refers to the NCECA conference as “Clay-world” (In that industry, for years and years, the annual meeting of computer geeks was called Mac-World). I thought that was pretty neat since the Bracker’s logo is the world anyway. Having just returned from the conference, I think it might actually be more appropriate to describe the NCECA conference as the convergence of the Clay Universe. Since I so very much love themes for our growing Third Thursday Community Studio Night, I decided to see if I could build a theme for the evening around products that are Universal. Join us on Thursday, April 17th from 4:00-7:00pm to try out the coolest things in the Clay Universe!
The first product we’ll be featuring was an easy choice. North Star’s Universal Bat System, which was recently the subject of quite a bit of discussion amongst ceramicists in the twitterverse. The system features a heavy-duty thick MedEx bat which attaches to the wheel and has a 5 1/2″ square cut-out to accommodate the inexpensive duron/masonite-type material inserts. These are perfect for throwing cups and bowls, and the square inserts are easy to line up on your drying shelf. I also like using the inserts alone for my hand-built work.
Next, since I like texture so much, I thought I’d highlight a great multi-tasker, the Steve Tool. This one tool will provide multiple (heck, almost ENDLESS) configurations, and it can be used on the wheel or on hand built ware. “One Tool, Many Results”….that says UNIVERSAL to me!
I asked the rest of the staff what products they think are universal. Seth brilliantly came up with the needle tool! He went on to point out (pun intended) that you can use it to write, carve, score, decorate, perforate, annihilate (wait not that last one…) I agreed with him wholeheartedly, but I took it one step further and pulled out the Sherrill Shark, which combines a retractable needle tool with a 45 degree angle tool. (technically, the needle doesn’t retract, it folds in like a pocket knife does)
Of course, to sample these two great products, you gotta have clay. Since I like to work at a variety of temperatures, it’s very helpful to have a universal clay…one that will accommodate my any whim. Standard Ceramic Supply’s 101 Buff fires beautifully at Cone 02 all the way to Cone 9.