A variation of the coil method is the use of flat strips, each going once around the vase. They may bee cut from a slab about 1/2 inch thick. Each strip should be approximately 1 inch wide with its ends trimmed diagonally to facilitate joining. The first strip is fastened to the base with the aid of a small roll of clay pressed into the joint (fig. 118). As the remaining strips are added, the seams are Smoothed and the shape molded to conform with the template.
The hand drawn method may be used in forming many small objects. Start with a lump of clay about the size of a tennis ball. It should be well kneaded to get rid of air holes and formed into as evenly spherical a shape as possible. Put the ball on a bat or piece of material that can be easily turned while working. Moisten the right thumb in water and press it into the center of the ball (fig. 119). With the left hand turn the bat on which the clay is resting, continuing to press with the right thumb. Then put both thumbs in the hole and, with the fingers outside, begin to press the sides upwards and outwards, turning the pot as you work (fig. 120). Continue in this manner until the thickness of the sides is about 1/4 inch and uniform throughout.
Watch the following points particularly. There is a tendency to leave the clay too thick where base and sides join. The rim must not be left thinner than the sides. You may need to fold it in occas-sionally to increase its thickness. It also has a tendency to crack and such cracks should be smoothed over at once. It is important to keep an even edge at all times.
Square or rectangular objects may be made from solid slabs of clay (fig. 121). To construct the ash tray illustrated, paper or cardboard patterns are first prepared for the sides, ends and bottom.
Clay slabs of corresponding shape are cut out and assembled in the following manner.
Join one side and one end piece at right angles. This joint and all others should be secured by checking and cementing with slip. Fasten the two sides to the base. Join the other two sides and add them to the base in the same way. In slab pottery, the base should always fit inside the slabs that form the sides, not underneath them. The tray may be reinforced if necessary by running a thin coil of clay along all inside joints. You may also strengthen the corners by dipping your fingers in clay slip and rubbing them on the outside of each corner.
Pottery made of self hardening clay may be decorated with painted designs or by incising and relief. The illustrations show these types of decoration on tiles, but they may be applied to any of the above objects.
Ordinary poster paints or the so-called tempera paints may be used on pottery (fig. 122). They dry with a flat finish and may be left thus or given a glossy surface by painting them with a nonfiring glaze. This is a varnishlike medium which makes the pottery water-proof and imitates the effect of the regular fired glazes. There is also available an imitation glaze which comes in sheets and can be applied to the surface of the tile with a coating of slip. Its mottled colors, high gloss and cracked finish duplicate very closely the results of firing.
Incising consists of scratching designs in the clay with a sharp tool (fig. 123). It should be done when the article is almost leather hard. The incised grooves are generally about 1/16 inch wide and the same depth. It is advisable to draw your pattern on paper first and to transfer it to the object while the clay is still soft. This is done by placing the drawing on the clay and tracing over it with a sharp pencil. When the clay has hardened, the faint indentations on the surface may be strengthened with a pointed modeling tool.
In relief decorations the design is raised from the surrounding surface by cutting away the background clay with a modeling tool (fig. 124). Clay may also be added to the raised areas if a high relief is required. A special kind of self hardening clay made specifically for carving is best adapted to this treatment. It may also be cast in rectangular blocks and carved into three-dimensional figures.
You need only a few modeling tools to form clay figures. Orangewood sticks or improvised tools whittled from wood will do. The most useful shapes are shown in the illustration (fig. 125). The tool with wire loops is chiefly for removing clay. The others are used for making depressions, lines and for smoothing the clay into form.
Clay for figure modeling should be moist hard. The illustration shows a number of fairly simple figures which can be modeled by a beginner, but the range of subjects is limited only by your skill and imagination (fig. 126).
Start modeling by rolling a piece of clay into a ball about the size of the finished piece, or slightly larger. Press or mold it into the approximate shape desired, scraping parts away and making indentations where needed with a modeling tool. When small pellets of clay must be added to build up some part of the figure, make certain that they are thoroughly merged with the original mass. As in pottery, the pieces will adhere better if you check or scratch the surfaces to be joined and moisten them or add a touch of slip.
After the clay has been worked to the approximate dimensions of the finished figure, model each part to its correct size and shape. Round the various forms as required, put in the eyes and other features with a modeling tool, and incise any lines that are needed to bring out different parts of the figure or indicate texture. In small figures such as animals it is a good idea to strengthen the legs and necks with toothpicks inside the clay. Larger forms are usually built on armatures, or skeleton forms, made of wire (fig. 127).