Tips for Preparing Clay

For Throwing on the Pottery Wheel

Preparing clay correctly is essential to success when throwing on the pottery wheel. Here are some tips for getting clay ready to use on the wheel.

  • First, be sure your clay is not too dry. Dry clay is hard clay. It is difficult to throw and is rough on your body.
  • Second, be sure your clay is not too soft. Too soft is generally better than too hard. If the clay sticks to your hands or the table it is too soft.
  • How do you determine just the right softness? You should be able to tear a ball of clay in two easily. If you can press your thumb into it easily without any clay sticking to you like mud, that is a good indicator too.
  • Store bought clay is usually the right consistency, but it doesn't hurt to wedge it a little, especially if the clay has been sitting a while.
  • If reclaiming clay from failed projects it needs to be thoroughly wedged using the cut and slap method or spiral kneading.
  • If you find your bag of clay has become too dry you can soften it either by wrapping a wet towel around the clay and resealing it for a few days (be sure to rotate the bag every 24 hours or so to keep the water absorbing evenly), or by placing the whole block of clay in a bucket of water over night.

Visit these other pages for more on wedging pottery clay and choosing pottery clay.

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