How to use our plaster pipe molds
Interested in using one of our pipe molds?
When pouring slip, it is always helpful to use a timer to get a uniform thickness of each pipe.
Once the slip of your choice is thoroughly mixed, start your timer to your preferred time and begin pouring your slip into your closed mold. As your timer runs, you will continue to top off with slip as the slip level drops. You want the mold to remain full until it is time to drain.
To begin draining your pipe mold, use the end of a small paintbrush and push it halfway into the drain hole where the slip is and pull it out again (this loosens the slip so it can drain easily). Flip the plaster mold over on an angle to drain and pour excess slip back into your bucket. (We use a sieve over a bucket to catch any debris, this is great if you want to reuse your slip).
When your mold has stopped draining, allow your pipe to dry three times longer than the slip spent in the mold. For example, if your slip stayed in the mold for one hour, you would dry for three hours. Now that you allowed it to dry appropriately, you can gently open your mold and remove your pipe. If your pipe is sticking to the mold still, it is best to let it sit a little longer.
Next, you will take a needle tool, trim the mold lines, use a wet sponge, smooth out any texture left by the mold or your fingers, and use a drill bit to make your bowl hole and carb. Once you have finished trimming, your new pipe must be fired in a kiln. Make sure to follow your slip instructions on how to dry and kiln fire your work accurately.
No microwaves and ovens don't count. If you don't have a kiln, call your local ceramic studio to see if they can fire your piece. The next step is to glaze your pipe inside and out. Make sure to follow your glaze's instructions. PLEASE glaze the inside of your pipe; without it your pipe will be tough to clean, and real talk it just won't look as nice. This step will require a second kiln firing, but it's worth it. When your pipe is finished, smoke up and tag @artnsyn so we can see your extraordinary works.
Things to note:
The amount of time your slip sits in your mold depends on two factors. First is how thick you want your pipe to be and second, what type of slip you are using. Not all slips perform the same. When making pipes, you will want a more runny slip for easier draining. There are so many types of slips, and timeframes can vary drastically. Practice is everything, and timing will take several tries with your slip till you get your ideal result.
Don't give ceramic pipes a bad wrap. Always glaze the inside of your pipes. Clay is a porous material that traps all the yucky gunk without your glaze that gunk will stick.
When glazing pipes, use food-safe, lead-free, non-toxic glazes so we can all be safe. When glazing your bowls, be sure to go over them with a needle tool to clean up the bowl hole. Nothing is sadder than making a beautiful pipe and not using it because it was clogged with glaze.
Always remember when you mess up, you are not alone in the world. We have made thousands of pipes over the years, and hundreds of them have been unsalvagable. (not an exaggeration) So many things have to go right to get a perfect result. We have been making pipes for years, and we still mess up.
You will mess up, and you will get it right. It's okay. It's part of the process. We all get better over time.
Lastly, support and be there for other ceramic pipe artists. When we created @ceramicsmokeware back in 2014, there was no real community. This is the exact reason we started artnsyn.com. Ceramic pipe making is an undervalued art, there aren't enough of us around. Share the love we all need it.
Peace + Love
James + Colibri
Co-Founders of Ceramic Smokeware and artnsyn
Ceramic Smokeware is the name of our business, not the art of making clay pipes. That is the title we have gone by since 2014, please don't use our name for your work, our trademark is pending.