When digging clay, why dry it out first and then wet it again?

by Flip

Question: I watched several videos on how to prepare clay that I dug from the ground. They include the instructions to lay the clay out in the sun to dry. Then soak it, stir it and screen it and pour it onto a plaster bat to dry.

Why should I dry it if I'm just going to get it wet again?

Answer: When you dry the clay it does two things. It makes it easier to break it into smaller pieces, which makes the final product more consistent.

The main reason to dry it first is that you can then add water to all of the clay evenly, creating a nice, even moisture content throughout.

If you just add water to big chunks of wet clay, you get an inconsistent mixture. In the long run that creates more work wedging and wedging to get an even clay body.


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Sep 11, 2011
Make Clay More Plastic
by: Anonymous


I dug some clay out of the river. It is very plastic wet it is wet, but when close to a throwable consistency it becomes less plastic and breaks apart. Is there something I can add to it to make it more plastic?


Yes, you can add vinegar to it, or save up your old slip that comes off your pot and hands while throwing. This clay is more plastic and will help.

Finally, aging the clay is also very helpful. Mix your clay well and store it tightly for a few months or even years to add plasticity to it.

Aging allows the organic matter to break down further and basically decompose into smaller particles creating more plasticity, as I understand it.

Hope this helps.


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