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Pottery Cracking and Wheel Throwing

Cracks develop on pottery for two main reasons:

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Have you ever had trouble with cracks forming in the base of pottery that has been thrown on a wheel?
This problem can certainly be avoided by following a few simple tips
Cracks develop on pottery for two main reasons:

Uneven Drying

Do you put your wheel thrown work in a drying cupboard?
How about covering your work with plastic sheeting, trying to ensure even drying?
Now, if you are throwing pottery on a bat, no air reaches the bottom of a platter, vessel or other thrown object, right?
So,what happens?
Well, I'll tell you what I have learned.
The top of the pottery dries a bit faster.
As the top dries, it shrinks and pulls together, cracking the wetter and less shrunk surface towards the bottom.
Once a crack has developed on pottery, it is almost impossible to get rid of, even by trimming.
One way to get around this, is to turn your pottery over halfway in between the drying process, but this usually can't be done.
This is how I got the bottom drying at the same rate.
Simply throw your pottery on plaster bats.
The bat will need to be moistened, otherwise the clay will pop off too soon and throwing will become impossible.
After throwing your pottery, the piece can be lifted off while still on the bat and the bat (work and all) can be placed in your normal drying area.
After a few hours, depending on moisture content of the bat, the work will pop off all by itself and your pottery may even be ready for turning and trimming that same day.

Uneven Compression When Wheel Throwing

Cracking apeared after firing
This Cracking apeared after firing the second time.

Cracks sometimes do not appear until the pottery is fired, sometimes not until a second high temperature firing, especially in fine clays like porcelain or porcelain stoneware.
Rougher clays like raku are generally not so prone to cracking, unless they are treated badly, as the grog tends to absorb a lot of tension.
For finer clays, the best way to get a evenly compressed clay throughout is to center the clay on the wheelhead, then cut off the clay with a cutting wire.
Turn the clay and recenter it upside down.
This makes sure that the clay will be compressed at the bottom as well as at the top, avoiding those dreaded S cracks!

Uneven Kiln Firing

Uneven firing can also cause pottery to crack.
If one side of the pottery gets more heat than the other, it can shrink more rapidly, causing tension, which will lead to cracks developing as the pottery cools.
Combined, these techniques should help to cure most of your wheel thrown pottery cracking problems.

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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