[Clayart] Clayart Digest, Vol 74, Issue 48

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Sat Jan 22 16:56:40 UTC 2022

> On Jan 21, 2022, at 7:07 AM, Jeff Lawrence <jefflawr at gmail.com> wrote:
> Slab roller died and I'm baffled by the options for replacement.

I have used several Brents…they are sturdy workhorses, but require shims underneath, or extra canvas on top, for fine-tuning the thickness. Expensive, too.

The Bailey I have used is a Cadillac! Sturdy and precise; I would love one when I win the lottery!

I have a Shimpo/Nidec, which I bought for the double roller system, (which I believe makes a more even stretch and no need to flip the slam to equalize). I also liked the either-side adjustment which controls both ends. I like the crank handle, which doesn’t block the work surface like the wheel handle (also included), and the low cost. I got it with the metal table (optional), but I wish I had built my own - it is too tall for me at normal counter height.  Other cons: The knurling on the rollers is a bit irregular, requiring a little more effort to rib the marks smooth. The tabletop is particleboard, so likely has a short lifespan. The rollers are also smaller diameter compared to a Brent, which is disadvantageous when rolling less plastic clay like mine. I did extend the table at one end, to roll longer slabs. It lives in my glazing area for space reasons, and becomes a worktable there in between slab rolling. (I covered the table and extension with contact paper, for protection and ease of cleaning.)

I watched the vertical ‘hi-roller’ demo at NCECA. I though it was a very clever design which would solve space issues for some people, but was not right for me. I have plenty of floor space but little wall space, so the ‘footprint’ size was irrelevant to me. I also want to work on my slabs after rolling - ribbing smooth, texturing, cutting test tiles or measured parts - so I need the table space anyway.  Having to move the slab to do these things, when they could be completed in situ, was a definite negative. (Possible a plus sin a shared space, though.) It was also too pricey to be a real contender anyway.

I have not used the Northstar.

The various small tabletop rollers seem altogether too small for my needs. 

I worked with a big rolling pin for years. It was fine when my slab work was occasional, but I am doing more slab work these days, at a large scale, and my very low plasticity sculpture clay is a lot of work to roll. (I also used to have a very small studio, and had to make slabs outside owing to a lack of table space to roll.)  I could only justify buying a slab roller when my space and needs changed. As for my choice, price was a significant factor. I admire and value quality, but it was never a choice between the Bailey and the Shimpo/Nidec; it was a choice between the Shimpo/Nidec and a rolling pin. 


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