Big Mac - Clay Computer Mk1 (circa 1992)



Introduction: Big Mac - Clay Computer Mk1 (circa 1992)

About: I used to be a potter, now I work in ICT. 'beyond utility' used to be my maker's mark. The pots that I made back then were pretty anti-utilitarian, so naturally I stamped the bottom of them 'beyond utility'. W…

How to construct the clay slabs needed for the construction of a clay computer using hands, feet and a plaster batt. This primative method was employed because the course leader was happy to provide motorised wheels for the throwers but thought that a rolling machine was probably too *hi-fi* for the hand builders. This jumping-up-and-down-on-the-clay hack was used as workround until the college up the road lent is a slab roller. I just rediscovered the images on an old drive and thought I should share because I'm not seeing too many ceramic projects on here.

Step 1: First Mix and Wedge Up a Sufficient Quantity of Clay.

To make a 'mac classic' type ceramic object did require some planning. The body of the *mac* was made first of all as a cube. This required 6 large slabs. Then the face of the mac was constructed and added to the front of the *mac*. This was constructed out of 2 larger slabs, 2 long thin side strips and 2 shorter thin side slabs.
In an attempt to reduce the finished weight of the piece a panel was removed from the front face of the cube to be shaped as the screen portion this was in turn removed to become the dome, which was shaped into a sat behind the front facia of the *mac*.

This dome was partly added as an echo of the design of the "mac classic colour" and partly to add strength to the construction of the piece as it was to become large and heavy.

Step 2: Wedging the Clay

Simple maths forced me to conclude that I needed a *lot* of clay (like bags full) and that it needed to be devided into about 6 big slabs, 2 bigger slabs and a few longer skinny slabs.

It was decided to use commericaly available clay for this project rather than use custom mixed clay as it would be a b*****r to run out of clay before all the slabs were assembled.

Step 3: Workspace Observations

The keen eyed readers will have noticed that I am not making this slab on an invention called a *table*. There is a sound technical reason for this, the tables that were available were what us technical people would describe as being a "bit wobbly". However the floor was found to be quite stable and therefore it was the work surface that was employed to support the plaster batt.

Step 4: Smacking the Clay Down

The first step in transformation of the clay lump into a clay slab was the "smack down". As the process involved the use of hands and feet, it was decided that the clay should not be wet enough to stick to hands or feet.

The inital smackdown would have been more satisfying with wetter clay, but the benefits of not having hands and feet covered in clay quickly became apparent.

Step 5: Punching the Clay

To get the clay flatter it was found that punching the clay did the job quite effectively.

It was also found that punching too hard was an inefficient method as it hurt a lot and did not make much difference to the rate of flattening.

Step 6: Slapping the Clay

It is important to note that the palm of the hand is doing the work here.

Step 7: Pushing the Clay Out to the Edges

That palm is by this time telling the slab-rollers brain that it's thirsty and wants a beer because it's starting to remind the slab-roller that 'this is like rolling out a pizza', mmmn, pizza... mmmn, beer'.

Step 8: Mounting the Clay

It was quickly discovered that there was only so much that could be achived with the use of hands alone and it was decided to depoly the feet.

The slab was carefully mounted and a 'treading grapes' motion was employed, taking care not to dig in heels or toes as a consistant slab thickness is what was being aimed for.

Step 9: One Hand (and Foot) Rolled Slab

It only required a further 8 or 9 more slabs to make the *big mac*.

It was discovered that the read pattern on the Converse training shoes left a pleasing impression of squares on the surface of the clay, but it was decided not to utilise this as a decorative feature on the piece.

The item was assembled and the 'screen' masked off with Copydex latex glue. The piece was then painted with coloured slip (liquid clay) and bisque fired to 1000 centigrade. Sprayed with a clear glaze and refired to 1100 (ish) degrees centigrade.

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