Bonus Monday Pottery Video! A Simple Ingenious Homemade Tool for Dry Footing Pottery

A while back, we had a contest to find clever D.I.Y. pottery tools. Lots of folks sent videos showing off the clever homemade tools they created to make their jobs in the pottery studio easier. There was only one winner, but there were lots of great ideas that we’d still like to share with you.

So today, we are presenting one of those honorable mentions. In this bonus Monday video, Lowell Baker shares a simple but brilliant tool for dry footing your pottery. Enjoy, and get ready to say, “now why didn’t I think of that?” – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

 



For more great glazing techniques techniques, be sure to download your free copy of Three Great Ceramic Glazing Techniques: How to Formulate Successful Crystalline Glazes, Add Depth Through Carving and Layering, and Glaze in the Majolica (Maiolica) Style.

 


Comments
  • Catherine A.

    I tried this today with some commercial low pile carpet that I found at Home Depot for 2.50 a foot and the cover of an old plastic bin. It worked beautifully. My fellow studio members were also delighted. Thank you for sharing Lowell Baker and for saving me hours and hours of unpleasant waxing. 🙂

  • Bah to the haters! This is a wonderful tip. Wax is great in some situations, but I’m sure we’ve all had wax drip onto an area we wanted to glaze. Alcohol, scraping, burnishing to get it off — my time time is worth more than a little glaze. Thank you Lowell and CAD.

  • Grete S.

    A really great idea . Merci beaucoup.!!

  • a nice sponge works just as fine. but if you use a sponge the waste would be = to that of his idea. wax would save u the waste but, i find that the waste isn’t that much of a problem .

  • Subscriber T.

    @Erica – I have to agree with you – this method is very clever but in a teaching environment its wasteful. I use this method with a thick piece of sponge but before they are allowed to use it they have to first ensure then have scraped most of the glaze off while wet with their finger. I thank whoever for the video but feel it left me wanting = what did he do with the water left in the tray? I think if he’d explained quickly that it can be used for a mystery glaze – that would have sealed the deal!!!

  • Bill R.

    Great idea; I’m going to try a piece of carpet instead of my fine sponge.
    you can also rubber squeege glsze off into the glaze bucket first then ‘dry foot’ thus salvaging more glaze.
    Thanks….

  • Alina H.

    I finally had a chance to watch this, and I am thrilled. Thank you for giving me hours of my life back! I will no longer sit in my garage with a tiny sponge and freeze my hands by repeatedly dipping them in water to wipe the bottoms of my cups! Thank you.

  • shawn f.

    We have used this in the studio for years. You can use many different carpet thicknesses, depending on how far up the glaze needs to be removed. I personally have always used wax for my own pots, especially when in production mode. I prefer a couple sticks of wax melted on super low in a shallow electric plugin skillet. It takes less than 5 minutes to wax the feet of 50 + pots. I have always disliked cold/paint on wax. One quick dip of the foot in warm/melted wax and a quick shake and you are finished.
    Both are excellent ideas for all ages and skill sets of potters, if taught correctly !

  • great idea…simple…no smelly wax and no wax disasters…thankyou

  • Paul S.

    I’ve introduced this to the ceramic class I’m taking, the instructor was amazed and about ha;f the class uses this instead of wax. Very cleaver.

  • the underpadding of carpet works awesome as well & leaves a super clean edge between the bottom & the foot!

  • Great idea and so easy! Thanks for making the effort of making the video.

    I will pass this on to the head of my studio, where there is a constant flow of new students who often don’t take off enough glaze. Hopefully they’ll be able to use this clever idea.

  • Thank you for sharing Professor Baker!

    Folks, if a person takes to time to think, prepare, produce and share-how about a little consideration? Sure maybe you don’t do something the same way, but is that the time to grandstand of diminish the person attempting to provide a solution to a problem?
    If you don’t want to buy into it-don’t buy it. If you didn’t buy it-don’t knock it.
    Questions about the technique and improvements to teaching are great! -that is the educational aspect in trying to find appropriate solutions!

  • Allan M.

    hi from New Zealand… that student broke the golden rule,,, he didnt stir the glaze before dipping…
    I also use a thin sponge wetted before and after glazing…its less than a quarter of an inch thick,,, some women wrap it around their hairdooooo…at night.
    before, the wet soaks the clay and then doesent soak up same amount of glaze on foot
    also there is less to wipe off… who worries about the small amount of wastage.
    you work quicker!

  • Rene H.

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, so amazed at the simpliness and yet so effective in trim and finish work! I will be using this method.

  • Alexis J.

    Guy: can you tell us in what publication the article was carried about the reclaimed glaze and clay? Thanks for the tip.

  • Guy L.

    Excellent idea, I also new a potter who used a scrap of neoprene with nylon on it (an old wet suit). She would spread it on a table, just dampen it, and rub the work on it like Lowell does. His idea looks like it would work a lot easier. For those worried about the wasted glaze use/disposal. The March 2010 has a good article that talks about how the University of Oregon reclaims their glaze, mixes it with reclaimed clay, and fire it in to paving blocks.

  • Beverly H.

    Thanks for a great tip Lowell! I have used a scrap piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting in a similar way without a tray and it works great. As far as wasting glaze is concerned, I think it is wasteful to use wax–especially when one has to rebisque a piece where wax has accidentally dripped in order to glaze it properly. I have used rubbing alcohol to clean off dripped wax before with a lot a work and mixed results. Cleaning glaze off of bottoms this way does give a nice even unglazed margin up the sides and really does not waste much glaze. Glaze often has to be washed off of wax, too, when it isn’t working perfectly. Another thing to consider are the fumes from the wax burning off. As someone who is planning to buy an L & L Vent-Sure under the kiln vent, I need to avoid using wax because this can damage the vent and also voids the warranty. Thanks again Lowell!

  • Ecira S.

    I have both seen this technique and similar ones through the years. As a full-time pottery teacher for over 35 years, (having taught many in my region who became successful full-time potters, clay sculptors and teachers) I personally do not approve of this method. It wastes far too much glaze. Unless the glaze is rinsed out with a clean water bath, allowed to settle, then reclaimed, it is not economical. (Yes, we do reclaim stains and glazes in our classroom/studio…). I would not like thinking I have added to the waste of raw materials, or wasteful habits of future potters.

    I trust the residue is not poured down a drain (environmental considerations…) or hosed off outside onto the ground? Option? Collect and make a “mystery glaze” from the residue? (We do that with our glaze rinsings from brushes, sponges, etc.) One could, but I bet it would build up so fast that it couldn’t be used or given away fast enough.

    I taught glazing today to my beginning clay sculpture students. We use liquid wax (not paraffin for health/safety reasons). They all grasped the “…why we dry-foot, why we use wax, how high to wax up the side and when alternative dry-footing methods are okay…” with no trouble at all. Assuming “students” can’t grasp the “dry-foot/wax” concept seems odd to me.

    I have a policy for students, “You drip, you chip.” How to chisel off the occasional glaze drip from a kiln shelf is reality training for future potters.

    I guess it’s okay to just toss out all your scraps of clay, or your “trimmings” when you trim a foot ring? I do not, and do not teach that.

    Another thing, what was that guy in the background doing, dipping his pot in the glaze that way? I have never seen or heard of anyone taught to dip a pot into the glaze and hold it under for over 15 seconds (about 45 seconds into the video). Did anyone else think that was odd? Or, perhaps the glaze has some additive that prevents it from going on too thick, or prevents the water in the glaze from saturating the bisque and making it “repel” the glaze…?

    Thank you for the site, Ceramic Arts Daily, and it is good to hear everyone’s input. Keep up the good work!

  • Kathie F.

    SOOOOOOOOOO Easy I love it Thanks Kathie F-J

  • Linda W.

    Love this tip. Thanks for sharing, Lowell. It will save me a lot of time in my effort to keep lines straight and even.

  • Robin T.

    Please picture me hitting my forehead with the heel of my hand– “Dughh!!!” Super idea. Thanks for sharing Lowell.

  • Alexis J.

    Jean, Well said in regards to showing respect. I’m assuming the person to whom you refer must have been born a potter, hence had no learning curve in becoming a master. Along the way, he certainly didn’t learn to honor and respect the inquires of those less fortunate than himself in skills.

  • Sue W.

    I had never heard of the carpet idea. I take a thick sponge, soaked in water and place it in a plastic box lid. I rub each piece of pottery in a circular motion on the sponge to remove all glaze on the bottom before I place them in the kiln. If the sponge gets a little dry, I simply turn it over and it is ready to go again. Rubbing the piece of pottery on the sponge does clear some of the glaze off the sides of the pottery also. You can determine just how much glaze that you want to clean off the side by pressing the piece of pottery down in the sponge as you are going in the circular motion.

  • Jean B.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! The bane of my life was checking that students have not left glaze where it could make contact with the kiln shelves. We only do a glaze session once a month so I have just put up with it. (I pit fire and don’t use glazes myself). This tip will be quick and clean instead of all that wiping with sponges on badly waxed and dipped pieces. One can adapt this idea to suit oneself as others have suggested but I will just start with an old roasting pan and a bit of carpet. I wonder if my husband will notice the square of carpet cut out from under a chair?!! By the way, if one has a further suggestion, I think it is great to share but impolite and immature to say one is way ahead of ‘this guy’ (his name is Lowell!). Lets have some respect here. Much appreciated Lowell. Thank you CA for bringing us these free tips. I love this site.

  • Jenny R.

    That is brilliant and so easy and so quick! Do you have to change the water when you switch to cleaning off a different glaze or can you clean off every glaze in the same water tray?

  • Sam C.

    Way ahead of this guy. I’ve been using the foam bat that I use for trimming bowls and such on the wheel. Just wet it down, start your wheel, and hold the piece to the bat. Gives you a nice straight line, and no need to sponge off the water afterwards.
    Then just wash out your foam bat and it’s cool.
    If you wash out the carpet/bat, there’s not going to be enough glaze left in it, at a high enough concentration, to affect any other glazes. For crying out loud.

  • Deborah S.

    Why are the great ideas always so simple? I will put this technique to use in my studio with beginning students immediately. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Susan P.

    Thanks for this video, and comments… lots of good ideas!
    No problem with the vid or sound.

  • Karle K.

    A damp drywall sponge works well and the glaze washes right out.

  • Janie J.

    Great idea – I’ve always struggled getting a nice straight line. Now I can!!! Thanks Lowell!!!

  • Ben R.

    While I think this method has virtue on some pieces , the first example of a mug, unless it uses multiple glazes applied by dipping in different ways seems superfluous – to glaze a mug with this sort of form you should not need any resist material or dry footing technique like this – its a waste of time and glaze.

  • Subscriber T.

    lovely thanks for posting

  • Nigel C.

    Good idea – however I noticed the student glazing his pot straight from the glaze bucket – not a good idea as the glaze has not been sieved (60 – 80 mesh sieve)and may have foreign matter in it – dust, bits of bisque ware. (Just an observation)

  • Daria K.

    Hi Lowell,

    I am very glad to see you on the video.
    You are a my first teacher for “falling in love with clay”.
    You are always a great teacher!!
    Also, your that cleaning the bottom technique is very smiler like a Korean treditional way too.

    Best regards,
    Daria. in Ann arbor MI

  • Lee M.

    My Korean friends taught me to use a think flat sponge (or flat packing foam) instead of a carpet. The sponge absorbs the water from the tray without submersing the sponge.

  • Priscilla G.

    Great idea and great responses.
    For the people concerned about glazes left in the carpet contaminating their pieces, I think that when you use the carpet, since you are going to wet it anyway, you could give it a preliminary rinse off before putting it in the pan and pouring water on it.

    In answer to a question about getting the glaze out of the carpet – just hose it down until the water runs clear.

    I also like the idea of stapling the carpet to a plywood board and using a nail to hang it up when not using it.

  • Jeffrey T.

    I too have been using a similar technique without the tray for years since the day my cat was sitting on my ware table looking down at me throwing, it had the strangest look a cat could have on it’s face, when I sat up to see what was bothering it, my head entered the cloud of smoke filling the room from my wax pan which I had left on.

    I swipe the bottoms of all my pots with a small squeegee or my finger while the glaze is still wet, this takes care of most of the glaze waste, whatever is left on I scrape off with a rib before rubbing on the carpet.

    Pieces which have a taller foot ring I place over the corner of the carpet and rotate the pot to remove the glaze from the deeper parts.

  • Nicky R.

    Great idea in general, but I would be concerned about dark or oxide intense glazes left in the carpet contaminating the lower edges of pieces glazes with white, clear, or other light glazes – especially in a student situation. I suppose one solution would be to have several pans, but where space is tight this could be a problem. Any other solutions?

  • Brilliant! I can’t wait to set this up for my 1st-6th graders 🙂

  • Sharon I.

    Greetings from McCalla AL, Lowell. I hate waxing and can’t wait to try this out. Thanks so much for sharing. Roll Tide!

  • Valerie M.

    Pretty cool! Think I will give it a try…wax can be a pain sometimes…lol. I like the smooth area where the glaze meets the unglazed area of the pieces this guy is working with.

  • Jaycee C.

    love it! … now where’s all that old carpeting we ripped up …

  • Alexis J.

    Trish: your question, “how do you get the glaze out of the carpet?” Have not tried it, but my hunch is that the glaze goes back into suspension and should wash out of carpet with a little bit of fresh water.

  • Alexis J.

    Katherine: to see other Do It Yourself (DIY) video winners, go here first: /daily/movie/ (copy and past into browser) , look thru that page and at bottom, click on page 2, scroll down to DIY 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st place. I think you’ll enjoy seeing so many more videos that CAD produces for us — it’s amazing to have such support ! ! !

  • Emilie P.

    I touch the glazed bottoms down on the surface of standing water and then just wipe/drag them across and around a big wet sponge. It works the same as the carpet and drip pan technique. I keep a pan of water sitting open in the sink anyway for rinsing tools and to trap some of the clay before it goes down the drain into the regular clay trap. So it’s always available. A big sponge is always available too.

  • Katherine M.

    Super idea! Thank you. Now I want to see the competition winner – how can I do that?

  • As always, another great video. Thank you CA! Further to this video, I have a piece of carpet stapled to a piece of plywood that’s the just about the same size as the carpet. There is a 1″ nail hole cut out of the plywood so it can be hung up when not in use- also hanging lets it dry. I keep mine hanging outside. I either place the carpet/plywood in a dry sink or on the lawn, then pour water on the carpet and wipe a pot. You can make a short pile one and a long pile one. Sometimes I wax only a portion of the bottom to save on glaze especially if it’s a thick glaze or one that has a lot of RIO and the clay is white. To remove glaze from the bottom outside edge of something, simply rotate the pot on it’s edge as you wipe in a circular motion. You can go as far up the outside wall as you like and it will be even all the way around. About the turned foot comment, wax the areas the carpet cannot touch then use the carpet for the areas it can touch. Use plywood or wood as it can handle the water without swelling or rotting. Cheers.

  • Thanks very much for this info. Looks like it could save quite a bit of time….Thanks

  • Brenda M.

    Very informative video…..I enjoy learning new tricks to make life in the studio go smoother. This is one I’ll definitely try out. Thanks Lowell and Ceramics Arts Daily! (no problem with sound or video)

  • Sharon P.

    Its always the simple stuff that works isn’t it! Brilliant idea, I will certainly be using this method. Thank you

  • Anthony G.

    Thanks Lowell… great tip! Simple yet effective.

  • Steven A.

    I’ve used this technique for years, and it works great. I don’t use the pan of water, however. Just wet your carpet, wring it out, rub your piece on it (sponge if needed). This avoids the drippy mess.

  • Josee R.

    I have used the “dipping” method for waxing (lowering the foot of the piece into a pan of hot wax) when taking lessons and it is equally as fast. This method seems like it would work better to get an even line where the glaze would stop at the bottom of a piece. My only concern is the water that was running on the side of the larger items while he was tilting them to sponge the bottoms clean. Would that not affect the glaze?

  • Jonni W.

    I think this will work well for me on some of my larger pieces that do not fit into my “electric skillet” that contains my wax…Thanks for the great idea!

  • Eliot L.

    Great idea. Thanks for sharing the tip!!!

  • alice b.

    please tell everyone who submits a video to put their sound level at the highest point while they are recording and let us turn it down. this is another almost silent video.

    yes, i do know how to turn up the sound.

  • Patricia B.

    so how do you get the glase out of the carpet.

  • Doris P.

    This looks like a good idea at first, but then I realized how much glaze it wastes! Using wax makes the excess glaze fall back into the dip bucket, and what little is left can be wiped clean with a sponge. I understand the problems with the public use of wax resist in a studio, but educating ignorant potters is the point of a class, right? The wax can be removed by washing the waxed area of the bisque-fired piece with hot soapy water, OR by allowing the wax to dry, scraping it off with a knife, then sanding it down with a new piece of ScotchBrite. I use Reed’s white liquid wax. It’s thinner, dries faster, and sheds glaze better than the pink or green stuff used in my university studio.
    If you could do Lowell’s method using a different tray for each color so the wasted glaze could be recycled, it might be a viable method for dry footing, but then you have to worry about consistency as well as contamination.

  • Simone L.

    I usually use a wet towel but like the carpet in the photo bath bin. Will definitely set this up for next class session.

  • Victory G.

    This is a great. We work with many ages with disabilities as well and this will help them feel successful. We always are looking for good ideas for them (and interns who would like to be in California for a visit (: ) http://www.oldtownartisanstudio.org Special Ed ceramic instructors are so helpful in all that we do. Thanks V

  • Pauline D.

    Thank you so much. I work with senior populations. Their limited strength and makes it difficult for them to hold a pot and sponge off dried glaze and the wax is impossible to control because of shaking. The job of cleaning the bottom of pots has been left to me…no more!!

  • Carole F.

    Looks great for pieces with flat bottoms – I wonder how well it works for pieces with a turned foot where there is a recessed area inside the foot ring that should be left unglazed?

  • Great idea! I’ve been using a sponge, but this looks far much quicker, easier, reliable & it’s green! I love the re-using aspect! Thank you for sharing!

  • Donna K.

    In a studio situation where you have many students passing through that may only be there for a short while I think it really foolish to use wax at all. It just causes far to many problems and can ruin other many other people’s pots from just one careless user. I have seen people dip pots in glaze when the wax has not dried and of course that means the next person to glaze is more than likely to get wax resist on their pot where they don’t want it. I have seen people use was resist, get it on their hands and then go to the bisque shelves putting their hands over other peoples pots looking for their own. Then of course there are all the problems that even a knowledgeable skilled potter has.

  • August K.

    Wow, that is a great idea. I need to go find some old carpet!

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