How to Make Clay
Learn how to make clay for your clay pot projects. Learn to choose the right
or mix custom clay recipes. Prepare clay from the ground or purchased from a
ceramic art supplies store.
Local clay sample dug from the ground.
Why Would You Want to Make Your Own Clay?
1) It saves money.
2) You can customize it to fit your needs.
3) It's fun, educational, and challenging.
1) It's a lot of work.
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Have you tried your hand at digging or making homemade clay? Give us the "dirt." How did the clay turn out? Share your experience, tips, challenges and photos!
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Mixing Powdered Clay
The first way to make your own pottery clay is to learn
how to make homemade clay from a powdered recipe.
Premixed powdered clay is cheaper to buy and ship than premixed wet clay.
These can be found wherever you find ceramics supplies. Most
stores have several clay recipes to choose from.
Making Clay From a Recipe
You can also learn how to make clay using a custom
recipe for homemade clay.
Recipes for homemade clay can be found in ceramic magazines, books and on the internet.
Most clay recipes include 3-6 raw ingredients. Some common ingredients include: ball clay, talc, kaolin, fire clay, stoneware clay, silica and flint.
Digging Your Own Clay
If you're an adventurous soul, you may want to try digging your own pottery clay. Before ceramic pottery supplies could be purchased at the store, potters dug their own clay from the earth.
Clay is commonly found near lakes, river banks, and in clay deposits. Some areas even have established clay pits, where clay is regularly sourced.
The experience of digging the clay, processing it, and testing it's properties can be very rewarding. You gain a deeper understanding of your clay by connecting to it's source.
If nothing else it gives you a greater appreciation for the ready availability of prepared clay to modern day
When learning how to make clay, learning how to test the clay body is important. There are four main tests I like to perform on each clay body in order to really get to know it.
They are: Workability, Shrinkage, Firing Temperature, and Absorption.
Workability- Otherwise known as plasticity or throwability. How far can the clay stretch before cracking?
Shrinkage- How much will the clay shrink when dried and fired? This ranges from 5-20%. Most wheel thrown pottery ranges from 8-15%.
Firing Temperature- At what firing cone does the clay mature? Cone 022-10.
Absorption- How quickly will the clay absorb moisture after it is fired to maturity. This ranges from about 2-12% for most
electric pottery wheel
Learn step by step instructions for these four tests.
When learning how to make clay here are a few safety considerations.
1) Always follow the manufacturers recommendations when operating a clay mixer or a
2) Avoid breathing clay dust. Wear an approved mask when working with powdered clay and clean up spilled powder with water.
3) When digging clay avoid polluted sources and test the clay for lead if creating functional pottery that will be used with food.
There truly are abundant resources for clay. Whether you are digging, mixing, or throwing clay straight out of the bag, Happy Potting.
Learn About Choosing the Right Pottery Clay
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