[Clayart] Clayart Digest, Vol 74, Issue 48

vpitelka at dtccom.net vpitelka at dtccom.net
Sat Jan 22 23:44:15 UTC 2022

Snail wrote:
"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)."

Hi Snail - 
You are one of the members of this list who almost always posts accurate information, but I was surprised by the above.  Flipping is not the issue.  Unidirectional grain structure is the issue.  As you no doubt know, when woodworkers are preparing green wood (fresh from a live tree), it shrinks far more across the grain than along the grain. Same is true of slabs. So flipping the slab is not the issue.  Cross rolling the slab is essential to eliminate the linear grain structure and cause the slab to shrink equally in all directions in drying and firing.  

At the Appalachian Center for Craft, I had students occasionally try to cut corners by using slabs straight from our Brent slab roller without cross-rolling the slabs.  Those students would build a stiff-slab box, and everything would be fine initially, but then in drying or firing the box would rip itself apart as the slabs shrunk in different directions.  This ain't rocket science once you understand the shape and behavior of clay platelets. There are good handouts on my website that explain all of it.
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Potter, Writer, Teacher
Chapel Hill, NC
vpitelka at dtccom.net

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of Snail Scott
Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2022 11:57 AM
To: Clayart international pottery discussion forum <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Subject: Re: [Clayart] Clayart Digest, Vol 74, Issue 48

> 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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