A to Z: bevel

(A note: When I started the A to Z series at the beginning of the year, I planned to do these themed entries every Friday. Long story short, I missed a Friday out sick, and threw out that schedule. There will be an alphabet entry each week. But that looser schedule makes me feel freer to write as I am inspired, and when I am inspired – I write a better entry! So stay tuned. I am excited about my A to Z list!) 

B is for BEVEL.  

a : the angle that one surface or line makes with another when they are not at right angles b : the slant of such a surface or line

Please allow me to introduce you to an all-star tool, a favorite in the tool box – the treasured bevel tool!

bevel tool 

These are hand made by Bob Carver – yes, that is his real name… It’s made of exotic hardwoods, from managed growth forests. I think mine is made of Bubinga. He made the first ones for Lana Wilson – ceramic artist and shrine builder, and an idol of mine… I had the good fortune of studying with her at Penland a couple of years ago. An amazing experience, like no other…

I used to make my slab constructed shrines with regular corners, slab meeting edge; a butt joint. Then the corners would have to be smoothed or pared down after the fact. The beveled corners are smooth, sleek and clean. Since Penland I have been incorporating more texture on the surfaces of my shrines. The beveled corner means the textures arent altered or distorted when I put the sides together. So wonderful, and its a gorgeous tool, to boot. A pleasure to use. 

Here is the process simplified: 

slabs cut

Slabs are cut from leather hard clay. 

cutting bevel

Cutting the bevel edge on a side wall. 

score and slip

With the pin end of the tool – scoring and slipping. Scoring the surface – roughing it up. Slip – a clay and water paste, which acts as a “glue”. 

interior construction

The trimmings from the edge are the perfect size and shape to fill in and reinforce interior seams!

interior complete

The piece – assembled. From here there is carving and/or distressing the surface, drying, firing… Many steps still to go. Dont worry – I will show you more along the way. 



Main Entry: 1ro·ta·ry
Pronunciation: ?r?-t?-r?
Function: adjective
Etymology: Medieval Latin rotarius, from Latin rota wheel
Date: circa 1731

1 a : turning on an axis like a wheel b : taking place about an axis <rotary motion>
2 : having an important part that turns on an axis <rotary cutter>
3 : characterized by rotation

Yesterday I had to purchase a new Dremel rotary tool. I think my deceased Dremel was 20 years old. I purchased it after college, an all purpose tool for drilling, polishing… I had concentrated in metals and painting; on my way toward mixed media even then…

Over the last few years the Dremel has become even more essential in the studio. Drill beach glass – Dremel and diamond tip drill bits. Holes for a Coptic stitch book binding? Stitching elements into a collage on canvas – and the wooden stretcher bars are in the way? Reaming glaze from the hole in a ceramic pendant? Grinding a spiral shell into a nubbin to set in a bezel? My new Dremel was initiated today – cleaning up holes in pendants for my Trunk Show at the Shepherdess in March…

Although I selected the word for one reason, it has been rattling around in my head… I had an extremely productive day in the studio today – moving efficiently from task to task, lost in the timelessness of work that is nourishing to the soul… In a way I was the axis, reaching out to the tasks and tools spread around me, completing a shrine, turning to cast new pendants in a plaster mold, then handles on mugs, then turning again…

So much better than the days when you feel you are spinning out of control, or cycling through one thing to the other, without satisfaction, results, pleasure. And there is a welcome routine to a cyclical routine, a comfortable fit of work, chores, play… I for one, treasure the routines I have created for myself, and treasure each day that my work is… what I love.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”   Rumi