After I had finished fabricating my extruder (see my last blog post) it was time to put it to the test. A typical extruder pushes clay through dies with consistent downward pressure, leading to a smooth surface on the clay. After my first attempt I quickly realized this would not be the the case. The consistent downward pressure did not exist because of a fabrication error. The push-plate I had designed was lacking in structural stability which gave the plate a slight wobble. This wobble made the clay come out with a tight spiral pattern on the surface. I admit I am not a master steel fabricator so my extruder is far from perfect, but I embraced this error in particular.
The consistency of the marks left on the surface add a layer of wonder to these pieces. People have told me the pieces look like they are from an ancient civilization, others have said they look futuristic, or like parts from engines. There are so many ways the work can be interpreted, and it seems to find a way to connect with most anyone who comes in contact with it. A happy accident I suppose!
The images below show the pattern on a fresh extrusion (top) and on a finished piece with a black wash over the surface (bottom).