For years I used the knuckle of my index finger as my go-to juicer. I would slice a lemon in half and ream out the juice by pressing my knuckle into the lemon, turning the lemon back and forth, drizzling the juice into a bowl for dressing, and discarding the seeds to the best of my ability.
The traditional wide-bottom glass juicers took up too much space and were not easily stored, the hand-held juicer would roll around and was not much better than my own knuckle, and a few of the overly designed juicers, while beautiful and minimal, just didn’t work well. The impetus for making this juicer was wanting something that took up less space than the classic glass juicer, was beautiful enough to be stored on the countertop, separated the seeds, was easy to use, and worked well in different food situations.
The two basic components of the juicer are the lid with reamer and the base. The lid is made using a plaster press mold. I made the original positive for this press mold by handbuilding a reamer and attaching it to a curved wheel-thrown form. The original reamer that I used to make the press mold is now the bisque piece that I use to press and shape the inside of the reamer.
Note: The form can be made with a combination of handbuilt and wheel-thrown parts if you don’t have a plaster press mold. The base of the juicer is thrown on the wheel. Because the top is made with a press mold and is relatively standardized, I like wheel throwing the base because it allows more variety in the height and width of the juicer.
1 Cut out a circle of clay to be used as the base of the lid. Make it slightly larger than your press mold diameter.
2 Cut out a series of triangular shapes to press into the reamer mold.
3 Slightly overlap the triangular slabs in the reamer mold, leaving extra at the top.
4 Using the bisque-fired positive, press and shape the inside of the reamer.
Pressing the Lid and Reamer
To start, roll out a slab of clay about a inch thick. Measure the radius of the press mold, and cut out a circle of clay (1). It should be noted that you want to slightly overshoot the outside edge of the press mold, to adjust for the likelihood that you might be slightly off center when you attach the slab to the reamer, and to take into account the curve of the shape. Now make the remaining slab of clay a little thinner and cut it into several long triangular shapes (2). Before you start to press the slab into the mold, first set the mold onto a banding wheel to make it easier to work in the round. Lightly dust the inside of the reamer portion of the mold with cornstarch to help it release easier.
Now you’re ready to start pressing the clay into the mold. Press one triangle piece at a time into the reamer, slightly overlapping the edges (3). I use the thinner slabs here to reduce the weight of the reamer and avoid warping or slumping of the lid during firing in the kiln. After the whole surface of the reamer mold is covered, cut the excess clay to about a inch above the mold and slightly press it away from the center. Using the bisque-fired positive, press and shape the inside of the reamer (4). Lightly paddle the excess clay back onto the curved part of the mold (5), clean up the edge, and score and slip it. This will be the clay that attaches to the circular slab that makes up the rest of the lid.
Using the center piercing (made when using the circle cutter to cut it out) of the circular piece of clay as a helpful guide, center the slab of clay on the mold. Gently press the slab to match the shape of the mold, and paddle the area where the clay of the reamer is scored and slipped to make sure you have a secure connection. Use a soft rubber rib to clean up the surface of the slab.
5 Lightly paddle the excess clay flat onto the curved part of the mold.
6 Loosely cut a hole in the center to match the shape of the reamer.
7 Press the bisque-fired positive into the mold to compress and refine the interior shape.
8 Use a soft rubber-tipped tool to smooth the seam.
Lastly, finish the interior of the reamer. Cut a small circle of clay out of the center of the slab you just attached so you can see into the reamer again. Cut this hole to loosely match the shape of the reamer (6), then for the last time, press the bisque mold positive into the reamer to finish refining the interior shape and to assure the two parts of the lid are successfully attached (7).
After the lid has set with the mold, and the clay is firmer, pop the clay off the mold, and smooth the seam (8).
Throwing the Base
Start with a – pound ball of clay. When I throw the base I don’t intend to trim the bottom—it’s a flat bottom before going into the wall. Generally, I want the shape of the base to reference the shape of the reamer, and be a soft, supported curve. It’s important to leave extra clay at the rim in order to form a wide lip on the base. The edge of this rim should have a curve that mirrors the curve of the juicer lid (9). The three key considerations for the base all relate to the rim: Leave extra clay at the rim and match the lid’s curve, finish the exterior wall shape of the rim with a concave or freed curve (because the rim will include a pouring spout), and use calipers to know how wide to make the rim of the base.
Once both the base and lid are done and leather hard, I like to have them sit together under plastic until the moisture content equalizes and they are wet shrinking at the same rate.
9 Use a rib to articulate the rim of the wheel-thrown base to match the curve of the juicer’s lid.
10 Place the lid onto the base, and trim the edge so it is flush with the base.
11 To keep the lid from moving during use, create an interlocking key system on the base and lid.
12 Use a round pointed tool to make holes at the base of the reamer for juice to flow through. All photos: Jason Vulcan.
Fitting the Lid and Base
First recenter the base on the wheel and secure it to the wheel head, then with your fingertips add a little bit of water to the lip. This water will make the lip tacky enough to secure the lid for trimming. Trim the lid flush with the base (10).
Using extra clay slabs, make two keys, one slightly bigger than the other. Attach one key onto the lid, realign the lid onto the base, and cut the rim of the base to fit the key. Repeat this process for the second key (11). Having two keys allows the juicer to be used in both directions without slipping. The larger cutout in the rim also becomes the spout to pour from. (Because of this hidden spout, it’s important when making the base that you make sure the ending curve below the rim on the base is concave.)
The last step is to make the holes at the base of the reamer (12). I angle these punctures about 45° because I think it looks better to have them slightly hidden, but the angle also helps to catch the lemon seeds.
Lindsay Oesterritter is an artist and educator living and working in Kentucky. Learn more at http://loceramics.com.