Instructables
Picture of Make a Ceramic Sphericon
A sphericon is a really cool shape, fun to hold, roll, or just look at.

You can find find more information on the sphericon shape from Paul J. Roberts http://www.pjroberts.com/sphericon/

This instructable is designed for folks with some handbuilding experience in ceramics. If you have some pottery skills but are new to handbuilding, try to practice some of the basic skills of slab work before attempting to build your own sphericon. There is a listmania of recommended books for handbuilders on Amazon.com here

Some new photos added, including a view of the bisqued piece made in the course of this instructable. Hey, and now we have a picture of the final item after firing to cone 10 in gas reduction! I wiped most of the glaze off before it went in the kiln.
 
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Step 1: Roll out a slab of clay

Picture of Roll out a slab of clay
Using your favorite tool (hands, large dowel, rolling pin, slab roller) roll out a slab of clay. The slab used in the example is about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a consistent thickness.

Ideal thickness is influenced by the clay you're using and the size of the sphericon you are building. A larger shape requires a thicker clay slab. You can go much thinner with porcelain than with stoneware.

I'm using the house clay for this model, which is a high fire (cone 10) grogged stoneware.

Step 2: Mark out two circles of the same size

Use a compass or trace something to mark your circles on the clay slab.

KEY: make sure you have the center point of each circle marked.

You only need about 3/4 of each circle, so it's OK if you include some thin spots or other defects. Just avoid these parts in the next step.

Step 3: Cut out 4 identical wedges (127 degrees each)

Picture of Cut out 4 identical wedges (127 degrees each)
You can get a paper template of the angles from here and here

Simply match the point of the paper wedge with the center of your circle, and extend the sides as long as you need them to so it will fit.

Why 127 degrees? Well, it's 90 degrees * the square root of two. Geometry.
bptakoma (author) 1 year ago
I love your collection! They have a lovely mystical quality all together like that. You might want to keep them in a dish as someone slamming the door or a small earthquake could make them roll off the table. Hey, have you tried rolling one on the carpet? It makes a neat wobbly path .

Thanks for taking the time to share your pics. I really love seeing them.
Smalfrii1 year ago
Hey bptakoma, finally got around to posting the pictures of them glazed. The two bigger ones are 2.5 inches in radius and the smallest is 3/4 inch. Hope you like them :)
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Smalfrii1 year ago
These are so fun to make! I've made four so far, all under 4". Wish I could make some bigger ones, but seeing as the school year is nearly out, we're out of clay to mix.
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bptakoma (author)  Smalfrii1 year ago
Awesome! Please post a picture of them after they're fired too. Thanks for sharing the picture. I love it!
beautiful glaze ( i love reduction!)
check out my ceramic concentric bowl tutorial if you get a chance.
thanks for sharing ideas
http://www.instructables.com/id/concentric-ring-ceramic-bowls/

David the mud slinger
These are cool, what would be even cooler is this shape in ice cubes.
My claim to fame is I actually went to School with the inventor of the Sphericon. He bought the shape into School to show and everybody who saw it was impressed. He's a complete maths junkie and his handwriting was illegible! He was working on patenting the shape and selling the rights to a toy maker (Mattel?) AFAIK this fell through because although the shape is interesting, it's nothing more than a novelty/conversational piece.
bptakoma (author)  hot-fresh-rider5 years ago
Wow! well, at your next reunion, please tell him how much we've been enjoying his shape. The math geeks love it. The pure crafters love it. We're all happy with it being strictly interesting. I will note that there is a wide segment of potters that focus on functional ware. They are less enthusiastic about something that's just a cool shape.
bptakoma (author)  Thelonelysandwitch5 years ago
or a sphericon superball!

this guy made one from lucite.
yeah
bowmaster5 years ago
This looks really cool. If only I had the skill to make one. What's the smallest and largest one you've made?
bptakoma (author)  bowmaster5 years ago
Hey thanks! The smallest so far has about a 1.5 inch radius. The largest was just under 10 inches in diameter -- I planned it that way as the kiln fee where I fire pottery is significantly higher for pieces over 10 inches in any measurement. I've been thinking that the shape is so appealing, it would be great to make earrings and a pendant out of precious metal clay (pmc). I'll make sure to share pics if I ever get around to that.
For jewelery you could make the size you want then make a mold and cast it in bronze or other metal and polish it so it shines.
bptakoma (author)  bowmaster5 years ago
The pmc people make a clay that fires to bronze now. See here. With the metal clays, it's easier to make a hollow piece. Although, I can also appreciate that a solid piece would have an appealing heft. Not sure if I would want that hanging from my ears. Ooh, but as a bauble to play with on a key chain maybe...
I was think more along the lines of a mold but the clay is cool.
Very cool! I've done some handbuilt vases before, but I've never heard of a sphericon. I think I saw one of these being made out of chocolate on the Food channel once. Is wood-firing something that you can do in your backyard, or do you need special equipment? I don't have access to a kiln, so I haven't made any pottery since high school.
bptakoma (author)  discontinuuity5 years ago
Thanks!

Woodfiring is done in a kiln -- not something you'll be able to set up for a backyard experiment. There is something called pit firing that you could try. See this link http://www.ceramicstoday.com/howto/htpitfire.htm I've never tried it, so I can't guide you too much there. You can always check into the local community and art centers. Even a paint-your-own-pottery place will probably fire things for you, for a small fee.

You could still make the shape in other materials. There are the paper patterns in step 3 -- so you can always make it in paper. Or polymer clay that bakes in the oven, or paper mache, or maybe metal mesh and concrete! Wouldn't that be cool.
pit firing is fun, but it is obviously nowhere near as hot as a typical wood-firing... Woodfired kilns are generally fired to at least cone 10 (on the orton pyrometric cone scale) which is around ~2350 F, a lot of people who wood fire actually go higher than this as it changes the effects of flame marking, fly ash distribution and melt, among other things. The temperature to which you fire is dependent on a lot of things, but part of what you want to tailor it to is the range of your clay body (you don't want to fire a cone 6 clay to cone 10, you'll be disappointed and frustrated to find a pool rather than the object you initially put in the kiln...) and you also want to make sure that you are properly vitrifying the clay body in order to maximize durability and non-porosity.... Getting back to pit firing--I believe temps in a typical pit-firing top out around the 1600-1700 degree (F) range--surely people have and do fire slightly hotter, but its not typical. If you want to see some more information on wood firing check out the following sites:
http://sidestoke.com/
www.anagama-west.com
FeedTheGrid5 years ago
Sphericon's rock! How cool; thanks for sharing, bp. Art will save the world!
Sunbanks5 years ago
These are really cool looking :D I might make one of these in ceramics class.
i haven't done ceramic work since my senior year of hs but i miss it this reminds me a lot of when we were doing darts and almond cuts very nice
gmjhowe5 years ago
Excellently written instructable. I found it easy to follow even though i have never done any ceramic work. Maybe you could provide a quick description of how you made your 45 degree angle cutter? (just enough for those of us who can to work it out)
bptakoma (author)  gmjhowe5 years ago
Thank you!

I took some pictures of my tool and the one that inspired it. You can see them on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/bptakoma/sets/72157616501978474/

1/2 inch square aluminum rod from hardware store, aluminum bar about 1/8 inch thick from same, pop rivets, 1/4 inch thumb screw, 1/4 inch nuts & lock washer, about 20 gauge hardened steel wire

tools used: scroll saw to cut metal to length and cut channel where wire goes underneath
dremel to smooth edges and cut slots in upper piece for wire
drill for 1/4 inch hole for thumb screw and 1/8 inch holes for pop rivets
pop rivet tool

bptakoma (author)  bptakoma5 years ago
here are some pictures showing more of the details of my bevel tool for clay (and that I'm not a good one for keeping tools meticulously clean).
IMG_6458.JPGIMG_6460.JPG
You ought to edit your instructable and add these photos to the appropriate step.
bptakoma (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
excellent feedback. Done! Thank you for the suggestions.
Ah you see, i know understand its made using a piece of wire to cut. I agree with Kiteman, though, i reckon you should add those pictures, and that description (along with the link) as an extra step, for people to follow.
SinAmos5 years ago
So, wait, I make this shape and then when the aliens land, I can put into their G-drive input console and take off in their ship? That's what you're selling me, right?
no man the g- drive doesnt exist your thinking of the cockpit
But otherwise, yes