I thought I'd give myself a break and make some smaller votive candle holders that load from underneath and therefore don't require copper hangers. Plus, I figured the smaller size would improve my chances of avoiding clay goobers, because I could fit my fingers into the pots to provide counter-pressure against the hole-cutting tools. So I threw a couple of little saucers to hold candles, and a couple fist-sized bottomless closed forms to go over the saucers; and when the hemispheres were leather hard, I commenced making holes.
Making holes takes a long time, even with small pots. Despite the reduced size, it still took over an hour to cut the first MSH/TC luminaria by hand. So, long overdue, I finally broke out the big gun:
Like the hand tools, the DeWalt DW972K-2 leaves sizable clay goobers on the inside of the pot, but they're easier to brush off, and the interior cut is cleaner overall. The exterior cut is messier, but the mess is nothing a little sponging can't fix. After experimenting a bit, I came up with a reasonably satisfying process: drill holes, brush off crud, rout holes with hand tools, brush off crud, sponge, then clear remaining crud from holes with a needle tool. A little complicated, perhaps, but it took only 23 minutes and 14 seconds to drill, clean, and sponge a SSH/TC model, and only twice that long to make a MSH/TC model (not counting the time I had to wait to recharge the drill battery), which makes drilling way speedier than hand cutting. As an added bonus, drilling doesn't make my thumb sore, and it doesn't leave metal oxides on my fingertips; and it lets me make a greater variety of hole sizes and get the holes closer together.
I could probably overcome the goober problem if I waited until the clay was bone dry before drilling. I read in Ceramics Monthly that Simon van der Ven drills bone dry clay using dental drills, so I know it can be done (with dental drills, at any rate, if not with a DeWalt DW972K-2). As I don't want to wear a respirator mask while I'm drilling--especially when I'm using porcelain, which has an amazing capacity to spread itself on anything that comes within its event horizon--I'll be sticking to leather-hard clay for now.
They don't look like much now, but when they have candles inside, they'll cast pretty light dots all over the ceiling, like that toy star projector my brother had when he was a kid. Not that this little project has anything to do with overcoming my childhood jealousy. Of course. But now that I've brought it up, I need to add constellation luminarias to my To Do list.
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