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Topic: Noob question s on wedging and centering! Help!!  (Read 1991 times)
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« on: March 06, 2011 06:43:05 PM »

I've begun going to the local arts and crafts center where I can rent a pottery wheel. I've bought a big 25 lbs block of clay (I forget the type, but it's red)
I looked at some YouTube tutorials on how to get started, but I'm not sure if I'm doing it right! My clay seems a lot less malleable than the clay I'm seeing in the tutorial videos. It looks like theirs is more workable. Mine dries out and gets cracked and crumbly when I wedge it. How long should I be wedging for? Do I add water if it starts getting dry? What's the consistency supposed to be like?
It seems like no matter what I do it's impossible to center the clay on the wheel because it's too hard. I'm trying to center it by shaping it into a cone and flattening it out a couple times, but I can barely make the clay move. Is this something I just need to get the hang of or am I doing it wrong?

« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011 07:57:18 AM »

Hey Sarah, I'd perhaps suggest that the clay you've got is Terracotta.

I'm not keen on Terracotta because it is difficult to work, I'd recommend you try and get some buff stoneware clay if you have a chance to get more. Whatever you do though don't mix the clays together if you do get something else.

Anyway, you do need your clay to be damp but not too wet, its difficult to describe how damp it should be but I'd suggest you'd want it to be like bread dough. If its too wet it'll become sticky, like dough and you don't want that but it needs to be moist.

There are three methods to wedging clay and you must ensure that its correctly wedged properly otherwise you'll get air bubbles which will make it more difficult to throw. Terracotta can be quite stubborn to throw with in my experience, it may just have something to do with the consistency of the clay your using as well. It needs to have a certain amount of plasticity, is your clay grogged? Does it have large grainy sandy particles in it?

http://www.littlewrenpottery.co.uk Hand thrown stoneware pottery
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2011 08:43:44 PM »

Thanks for replying!
I think you're right about it being Terracotta. I'll look into getting a different type of clay. The kind I have might be grogged... I don't have another clay to compare it to but it feels a little grainy. After I bought it a woman who worked there said that normally people don't use the one I was using (reeeeeally helpful to know AFTER I bought it, lol) So I should probably get a different kind to start with.
"Buff stoneware" is the one to try? Thank you!

« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2011 03:35:29 AM »

No problem, the clay I use is called BC17C but it may be called something else where you are. I'd recommend actually having a look at the clay before you buy it.

Sometimes suppliers have sample pieces or test tiles you can have a look at as well.

http://www.littlewrenpottery.co.uk Hand thrown stoneware pottery
Polka Face
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2011 10:05:00 PM »

Many suppliers will offer free samples of clay.. I get mine from Mid South Ceramic Company.. I use Phoenix clay and B-mix.. and both work really well. I don't know what other companies call it. Terra Cotta is indeed a difficult clay to work with.. I have only used it once.

As for consistency, I would say, if you pinch the clay and it kinda just breaks apart it's too dry.. and if you touch it and it sticks to your finger, it's too wet..

I think the best way to tell is to pinch it and if it moves with your finger without sticking to it and you can see your fingerprint in the clay, it's perfect for throwing.

I hope that helps.. heheh
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2011 12:18:55 AM »

you might also check what temperature your clay is ... and what temperature the glaze firing will be at.
you do not want to buy a low fire talc body that is recommended for beginning throwers if the glazes you will be using are cone 10 ... you will end up with a big puddle of clay at the bottom of the kiln.

ask around at the craft center ... a lot depends on what is available in your area
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2012 07:47:47 AM »

It sounds like one issue is that the clay already is too dry-in the bag.
1- Get a large old washcloth and saturate the rag with water.  Next wring it out so it is just moist-not dripping.  
2- Remove your 25 lb lump of clay from its original bag.  Wrap the rag around it.  
3-Now place the rag wrapped clay into a new bag (if it does not fit into the old bag).  Seal the bag.
4-Let sit like this for 2-4 days.  It should remoisten the clay to a more workable consistency.  
Wrapping the clay and letting it sit a few days helps to draw the moisture throughout the clay.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012 07:48:59 AM by plaidpineapple » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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