Tag Archives: faceting

Tool Review: Mudcutter

The Mudtool Mudcutter. This is one of the tools that I cannot live without. Ok, that is a slight exaggeration… it’s a tool that I can’t work in my studio without.

It’s basically a giant cheese slicer with a super thin wire. It’s on the expensive side (retails for about $30). When so many of our clay hand tools cost $2 – $5, this is a bit of a jump up. But it really a tool that I use every day, throughout the day in my studio, so for me, it’s definitely been worth it.
I use this for the Mudtool Mudcutter for 5 basic studio tasks.
Here they are (in order frequency):

  • I use it for cutting clay when I’m weighing out uniform pieces. I can cut the clay using the Mudcutter with one hand (my right) and then I can pick up the chunk of clay with my left hand, put it on the scale to weigh it. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it shaves a couple seconds off each time I weigh a piece of clay. It adds up! 
  • Cutting feet on plates and platters:
  • Cutting off the exess clay from the bottom of a handle on a mug.
  • Faceting!
  • Cutting a teapot spout at an angle to fit the body of the pot. The super thin wire doesn’t have much drag, so you don’t distort the spout.

There are more uses for this tool, but those are my top 5. The 2 parts that make this so tool unique: The very thin wire that cuts through clay without drag, and the depth of the area between the wire and the frame.

One time, a couple of years ago, the wire snapped. I ordered replacements… and it turns out that they were out of stock. I had to wait about 6 weeks for the replacement wire. It was hard being without it. I now have a couple stashed in my studio so I’ll never be caught without a replacement again.

I don’t know if this is a tool that would be helpful to you, but it’s one of my “must haves.” I had no idea when I bought it that it was going to become a tool of daily use for me.

What are some of your favorite tools?

Surface Decoration Techniques: faceting with a wire.

Faceting the walls of pots is a great way to change the surface of a piece. The facets can be highlighted with atmospheric firings and glazes that break on high points. There are many ways to facet a pot – wet or leather hard, with a wire or a special faceting tool, with a straight wire or a curly wire. Each choice will give you a different final look. I do have a personal preference for faceting while wet. If you facet right on the wheel after your piece is thrown, you can still alter the shape while pushing out from the inside of the piece and you can “re-throw” the lip which is great for a drinking vessel! And if you happen to go through the wall of your pot, you can still re-wedge the clay and try again. 

Below are images of a sample cup of wire faceting techniques:

 

top left: a curly wire that I made that you can see in a previous blog post.
top right: a Bill Van Gilder Wiggle Wire.
bottom left: a Mud Tool straight wire tool.
bottom right: a Mud Tool curly wire

And below you can see the finished result of the sampler cup:
clay body: Lillstreet Soda Clay
firing: soda fired, c. 10 reduction
slip: top half dipped in Bob Briscoe’s Slip for all Occasions
glaze: rutile blue
This is part of my “Surface Decoration Technique” series.
I have been creating, soda firing and documenting simple straight sided cylinders with a variety of surface treatments for examples for my classes and this blog. The original idea was to create demos to show students that aren’t specifically “my pieces.” The fun result of this project has been that it’s given me an excuse to return to things long forgotten and to try some new techniques.
Watch out for upcoming tutorials with lots of pictures and slip and glaze recipes.