From a Slab of Clay

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By Daryl E. Baird

Working with clay slabs offers more opportunities than any other forming process.  From small dishes and plates to architectural installments, slabs can be used to create any form, any size.  When Daryl E. Baird took notice of all the work being done with this technique, he decided to explore it in depth then open the doors for others to enjoy. In From a Slab of Clay, you'll learn about what it takes to start out on a journey that's sure to last a lifetime.  From setting up a proper working space to selecting the right tools and equipment - including complete instructions for building your own slab roller - Daryl doesn't miss any details for you to consider to assure your success.

Getting Started
For you to enjoy working with any art medium, Daryl maintains that it's important to familiarize yourself with it to play with it awhile before attempting to do anything serious with it.  So, that's where this book starts-by encouraging you to get acquainted with your clay by working it in your hands and learning its technical properties.  He points out that every piece of information you gain adds to your success.  Next to the materials, your workspace is probably the next most important consideration you need to make.  Daryl's been a potter for many years and provides sound advice on tools, equipment, and supplies as well as special considerations for physical limitations and maintenance.

Tools of the Trade
When it comes to making slabs, there are many approaches: rolling pins, wire cutting, slab rollers and even using the wheel!  Daryl not only discusses the many possibilities for creating slabs, but he also demonstrates how to build your own slab roller with parts from the local home center or hardware store.  These detailed drawings provide a step-by-step guide for anyone wanting a slab roller at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one.  But if you want to buy a slab roller, Daryl also provides a survey of the commercial rollers available from the some of the best North American manufacturers: Bailey, Amaco, Northstar and Bellar.

Step-by-Step Instruction
Once you have everything set up and your tools in place, Daryl takes you through a series of step-by-step demonstrations-from the simple to the complex.  As you work through these projects and techniques, you'll gain confidence as you acquire new skills that open up a world of possibilities.  From tiles and picture frames to pitchers and platters, each demonstration provides tips and techniques for working successfully.  After the demonstration section, Daryl provides advice on glazing and firing, including advice on how to keep large slabs from cracking in the kiln.

From a Slab of Clay
After you've accumulated your tools, established your workspace and practiced the techniques, there are really only two things to add according to Daryl.  The first is imagination, and you have to provide that.  The second thing is inspiration, and the book's photo gallery may supply a great deal of that.  With scores of images by dozens of artists, you'll be amazed at what can be made from a slab of clay using the techniques and tips described in the book.