Now, for some the term extruder disc will summon up images of a small round metal plate with holes punctured through, placed at the bottom of the sink to catch all the food bits (or hair) and prevent the drains from becoming blocked. For others it may represent a filter made from finely woven mesh placed across an extractor fan to purify the airflow, or trap abrasive and harmful dusts. However, these domestic and industrial tools are certainly not used here, in a profession where a combination of precision and creativity is the key to making unique, accurate and beautiful clay models.
In clay modelling, the best way to create tube shapes or thin strands is to push the clay through an ‘extruder’ at the end of which is attached a metal disc with an outline stamped through it. This shape, much like a cookie cutter, will determine the shape and size of your length of clay. For example, a square extruder screen can be used to cut bricks or planks, while a circle could make columns or tree trunks. It really depends what you are building. If you are making jewellery then it depends how thick you want the clay band or pendant to be. There is a wide range of extruder discs out there and this can be a little bit baffling. Here are some common moulds and their uses:
· For scenery building, the use of a finely pierced extruder disc will enable you to push through strands of grass or flower stems.
· These ‘screen discs’ are also used for making hair for human figures or plush animals.
· A disc with a flat rectangular slot may be used for making ribbon for bows or weaving baskets.
· A semi-circle creates a great border shape or timber for attaching to buildings.
· The square and circular cut discs are the most common for creating basic shapes and three dimensional letters.
Colour and finish
The important factor then is to choose the appropriate colour or mix of colours for the model or jewellery piece. Another exciting section of clay modelling is learning how to combine colours to create brightly patterned strands of clay, which make wonderful accessories. Further to this, a tutorial on the optimum baking and varnishing techniques is crucial for creating smooth and glossy models.
One final handy tip is this: Once you have collected an extensive range of extruder discs it is a good idea to create short cuts of clay from each shape and somehow label the metal mould and the sample identically. This way, when you come to making something else you will be able to identify the size and shape you need without too much hassle.
About the author:
Emily is a young enthusiastic writer with particular interests in environment, science, food, technology, architecture and travel. She holds a 2:1 BSc Physical Geography (International) from the University of Leeds and currently works as an outdoor equipment specialist and freelance article writer, while searching for opportunities in energy and sustainability.
image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/craftygoat/
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