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subject: using tools for production

updated mon 12 jul 99


Bonnie Staffel on sun 11 jul 99

Dear Clayarters

I would like to take the side of the users of tools which assist in the
making of pottery. There are a lot of women potters who just can't give
up being a potter even in their 70's and 80's. Tools are our
salvation. I started out 50 years ago with a stand-up kick wheel to be
a Leach purist until I developed a crooked back from standing on one leg
all day for twelve years. So bought an electric wheel from Norman
Schulman. A godsend!!! This did not diminish my creativity.

I next purchased a Giffen Grip but I first learned how to tap center my
pots from Norm using my RIGHT hand. The Japanese tap with their left
hand as their wheel turns the opposite way than Americans. As my
production covered many different shapes and sizes, it fit right into my
schedule. I then purchased two of Creative Industries first electric
wheels. I still have them and use one to hold my Giffen Grip always at
the ready. I use it for trimming pots, waxing rims and bottoms, and
then for decorating the pots when I need to band them.

My next purchase was a Bluebird extruding pug mill, one of their first.
Although I taught my apprentices how to hand knead, and as I paid them
to learn, felt that it would save wrists and time to have this machine.
I have invented ways to use this tool to throw huge pots at my advanced
age which I could not accomplish the old way. (I do need help in
dipping these large pots in the glaze now though) In no way have these
tools made me less creative nor my work less hand made. The wheel is my
tool for making sculptures as well as pots, saving energy for other
useful exciting things to do in the studio.

I am a firm believer in learning the basic hand methods of working the
clay, then to use the tools to assist you as you advance in age or
become incapacitated in some way which may inhibit your working in
clay. I am thankful that I do not have arthritis, and emulating
Beatrice Wood, hope to keep working until I am 105 even if I may have to
buy a centering machine!!!!

Thanks for listening to a potter who now wears purple and sometimes even
makes purple pots.

Bonnie Staffel, Charlevoix, MI.