There have been many times when I have had to improvise in the studio or classroom when the tool I wanted was missing or unavailable. I’m sure most of you have done the same.

1 Preston Rice’s wheel-thrown plate, stoneware, glaze.

I had been using a commercial bat sponge that goes between a bat and the wheel head to help hold the bat steady when throwing. As I am aggressive when I center, bats would often wobble a bit before I started using this sponge. A while ago, I could not find my bat sponge and I really needed something to stabilize my bats so I could complete a commission of large plates (1). Improvising, I tried using a plastic clay bag trimmed to the size of the wheel head as a replacement for the bat sponge. I use plywood bats (see 7) to throw with and have found that this plastic bag anchors my bats very well, and it is easy to make.

2 Wheel head with bat pins attached. 3 Place a plastic bag over the wheel head. 4 Cut the plastic to fit perfectly over the wheel head.

First, place the plastic bag over the wheel head (2, 3), hold it down using your bat, and cut it to size (4). Next get the bag and the wheel head wet (5, 6), then place the bag over the wheel head and tight over the pins. Then get the bat wet and place it on top of the plastic so the pins go through the holes (7). Now you are ready to throw without your bats wobbling around.

I am still using the same piece of plastic after throwing several plates and bowls with it. I tried using small pieces of plastic over the bat holes at first, and that did not work as well as this technique. There is more going on than the tighter bat pin holes from the plastic being over the pins; with this technique there is also a suction element that works to help hold the bat in place.

5 Completely wet the plastic stabilizer. 6 Wet the wheel head and place the plastic on top. 7 Place the bat onto the plastic stabilizer.

the author Preston Rice is a potter, a Potters Council advisory board member, and an active member on the Ceramic Arts Daily Community forum. To learn more, visit

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