About a month ago we had Kathryn Finnerty for a workshop. She gave a great workshop and lecture on her work and methods. Surprisingly, my favorite part was watching her methods of forming. I have been a huge fan of her decoration for along time but I had never paid close attention to how she builds. All her forms were built from manipulated slabs, or extruded parts. She had the most common sense approach to building. Multiple times throughout the workshop I thought " Damn why didnt I think of that." One especially simple method was to use cardboard tubes wrapped in fabric to support slabs as she built. After the slabs were slipped and scored to make an oval she would place two cardboard tubes on the inside of each end. She would then put her hands in the tubes and apply outward pressure. It allowed her to move 12-18 in slabs without damaging the raised decorative surface.
I also enjoyed seeing her approach to gallery seats and feet. She had a handheld extruder that she made dies for. She would cut metal ribs into the shapes she needed. This allowed her to add the gallery seat after the body of the pot was formed.
She offered suggestions to help solved some of the problems I have been having with glazes and cracks in large platter feet. For years I had blistering problems with my clear glazes. She thought I was over firing them and that I could probably fire a few cones lower. I have since switched glazes but over firing was not something I had thought about. It makes sense. High Frit glazes have tight firing ranges. If you overfire they boil on the surface of the pot. Their viscosity at this highly fluid state determines if the bubbles smooth back over. I haven't tested this but it sounds reasonable.
For the platters she suggested making a shrink slab that the piece will rest on throughout the forming and firing process. This insures that any surface tension is held within the slab and not the pot.
I had a great time talking to Kathryn and watching her work. If you ever get a chance you should take advantage of her practical skills and aesthetic prowess.