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Tips for Taking Proper Care of Clays

Aug 17, 2007
A long process is needed to make you clay perfectly ready for use. If this process are follow properly then a good result can be obtain. In this article you will learn what these processes are and how to follow.

Plain water-and-clay slips can be used as an adhesive material for joining two pieces of plastic or leather-hard clay. In performing such an operation, it is advisable to make your slip of the same material as your ware. Otherwise the juncture may be visible after drying and finishing. If, for example, you use a red slip for mending a white clay body, the repair would mar the beauty of the completed piece.

For decorating, on the other hand, a contrasting slip can be used with winning results. Never slip-decorate a piece that has passed its leather-hard stage of drying, however. If the ware to be so decorated is too moist, the slip will tend to soften it. If the ware is dry-hard, you will have difficulty getting the slip to adhere properly. More than likely, the slip will chip and peel away.

Plastic clay should be kept in a container with a lid. Stoneware jars, garbage cans and laundry tubs are adaptable for this purpose. For hand-shaped pottery, the clay must be kept quite soft, not sticky, and firm, not shapeless. For sculpture, it should be stiffer so that it will not slump or sink or lose its shape.

While working on an object, the unused portion of the wedged clay should be kept under a damp cloth, or it will become too hard. If the clay is too moist, it can be rolled or wedged on a dry table or dry plaster bat until it is of the right consistency. If it is too stiff, it can be rolled or wedged on a damp surface until it is right.

To increase plasticity, you may add one of the following: acetic acid, ball clay, ben-tonite, dextrin, glycerine, tannic acid. To increase the strength of clay, you may use: fire clay, flint, grog, lignin extract. (Note: Grog increases strength in dry form. The other materials weaken clay in the unfired state but increase strength after firing.)

When clay is very stiff it may be reclaimed by leaving it on a moist plaster bat, covered with a damp cloth. Clay that is bone-dry must be broken and mashed and worked like dry powder clay. It is far better to err on the side of keeping clay too wet than too dry.

Slip should always be stored in dust tight containers. Some slips have a tendency to form a skin or crust on the top. This can partly be prevented by covering the slip pail or jar with wax paper and string.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http:// www.curtains-n-drapes.com/ , http://www.ceramicsmadeeasy.info/ , http://www.ceramicsmadeez.info/
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