Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trimming Chalice Stems

I am working on chalices for next year, and have started to do the trimming after some throwing. Pictured here are 8 stems along with a few mugs waiting for trimming.

I have often spoken of doing chalices for communion sets, and even shown a video of me trimming one and putting one together. However, someone pointed out that my trimming chuck for the chalice stems is never shown. I have included several pictures here of my chuck, and the way it is put together. It is pretty simple involving the following items
  • Section of 3" PVC pipe 8-10" long
  • 3" Pipe flange
  • 3" Tank to Bowl gasket
  • 3" Pipe Hub Donut

The Pipe Hub Donut goes onto the pipe that is inserted into the Pipe Flange.

The Tank to Bowl gasket, which is soft foam, is inserted into the Pipe Hub Donut. This gasket was very important, since it is the piece that allows the whole thing to work without damaging or marking up the chalice stem while trimming. I can apply quite a bit of pressure on the bottom of the stem without putting any marks on the outside of the chalice stem. Whereas, whenever I would use a thrown slightly stiffened chuck I would have marking on the chalice stem.

I use a Griffin Grip to hold the entire assembly on the wheel. You could use the same device glued or otherwise attached onto a bat and then use the bat on the wheel head, but this was more convenient for me.

I have shown a slightly out of round uneven stem here ready to be trimmed. I often start trimming with a hack saw blade held perpendicular to the clay to cut and even up the base, and then move to regular trimming tools. In cases like this I might start with a needle tool first. Every piece has to be evaluated for the best trimming technique to be used, at least for me there is no "one size fits all".

I usually do production with 10-20 chalices at a time, trimming all stems first. Then I trim the bowls on the Griffin Grip, adding the stems immediately after adding magic water and to the trimmed area. I also level thing up by using the wheel turning slowly.

It took me a few tries to get this to work for me, but once I worked through the process, I realized that the tool was much better than other techniques for trimming the tall stems I wanted for the chalices.

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