making. Leave about 2–3 extra inches all around toallow for trimming. How thick you make your slabdepends on how big it is—the bigger the item, the thick-er your slab should be.A couple of handling tips: First, rolling out your slabon a piece of cloth, makes it easier to handle. Second,be careful how you roll it out. Rolling a slab in just onedirection can cause stress and warping, so ﬂip yourslab over several times and change the rolling directionto minimize warping.
Once your slab is the right size andthickness, place your mold on the slab and cut out thegeneral shape, leaving a border of 2–3 inches. Whenusing a sharp knife, use the back of the knife tip to avoidcutting the cloth or your table surface.Allow the slab to dry until you can smooth it with arubber rib or ﬁnish the surface the way you desire. If you want to use a slip on the clay surface, now is thetime to apply it and let it stiffen. Applying it after mold-ing the form may obscure details.
. Apply a layer of tissue paper to sep-arate the surface of the mold and the clay. Tissue paperworks well because it’s thin yet strong enough to besmoothed over the damp clay surface without tearing.You also could use light plastic, like dry cleaner bags, ordust the surface liberally with talc, but talc may affectthe color of the clay after ﬁring, and plastic may make ithard to trim the edge. Also, plastic must be removed toallow proper even drying.Using your ﬁngers or a soft rubber rib, smooth the tis-sue outward from the center to the edge. If ridges form,lift and re-smooth. Work quickly so the paper doesn’tbecome saturated and tear.
Place your glass mold on top of the clayslab with the patterned surface against the tissuepaper, then quickly and smoothly invert the mold andclay. (You’ll ﬁnd that this method keeps the paperattached to the clay better than picking it up andinverting it onto the mold.)For the next step, the cloth should be uniformly damp.If dry, dampen it with a little water from a spray bottle.Use a soft rubber rib to wipe the surface gently butﬁrmly to get a smooth surface on the back of the piecewhile pressing in the design. Wipe in different directionsaround the slab as well as from its edges to the center.Be sure you cover the whole surface. (If you mark astarting point on the cloth and work systematically,you’re less apt to miss a spot.)
November/December 2004 •
Use a rubber rib over a uniformlydamp but not soggy cloth, to pressthe entire surface gently but ﬁrmly(7) and then carefully press theedges of the slab to conform to themold (8). When leather hard, trimthe excess clay (9). Hold the bladeparallel to the table, and and cutcarefully so it doesn’t tear the clay.When it is dry enough to hold itsshape, flip andremove it fromthe mold (10).Smooth the rimby using a littlewater betweenyour thumb andforeﬁnger (11).