Pottery Tips and Techniques
Wet PartsThe first words that you learn in ceramics and pottery is score and slip.
In order to attach two wet pieces of clay, you have to score both sides with a needle tool or fork and then apply water or slip and mush them together.
Now, some potters, even the famous ones, have quit doing the traditional score and slip method saying they found mushing two unscored pieces together to be more reliable.
This is known as the direct contact method and it helps to have a binder.
I use vinegar and water for this and it works great, almost like a glue.
I mix my water and vinegar 5 tablespoons vinegar to 10 tablespoons water. Usually this will be enough to enable you to attach another part to your piece.
It isn't that hard to make some if you need more, it will only take a minute to do.
Try it both ways and see which one works the best for you.
Dry PartsUsually, you can't attach two pieces of clay which have dried past the leather hard stage, at least that was what I was told.
I don't like to be told something can't be done, I always set out to prove them wrong.
Anyway, I wasn't about to throw all my hard work in the garbage and start all over again.
I decided I was gonna make my piece wet again, so I took a water spray bottle and wet my piece down maybe four times and covered it with plastic letting it set for a day.
Sometimes I have to repeat this a couple times.
Then I scored both sides and used the vinegar mixture first, then squirted some slip on both pieces and stuck them together and it worked just fine.
I have scored both sides and used just slip and it has worked ok, but I think the bond with using vinegar and slip was a lot easier.
The reason it is impossible to attach pieces to dry clay is because the dry clay instantly sucks all the water out of the slip that you are using to glue the pieces together with.
Always wet your finger or a brush with water and smooth the area where you made the repair or added a piece.
There is a commercial mender called Magic Mender or APTII Mender that is supposed to make it possible for you to attach pieces of greenware or even bisque.
I tried it once but I never had very much luck and that is why I use the vinegar and water mixture if I have to add to or repair a pottery piece or ceramic.
Make Your OwnI have a friend that says it is the super duper pottery or greenware fixer!!!
Here is the recipe:
I gallon water.
3 tablespoons liquid sodium silicate.
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of soda ash.
Add about 3 tablespoons of this mixture to a cup of slip and put it on both pieces and push them together.
Wet your finger and smooth the area where the repair was made.
Liquid sodium silicate is also called egg keep and is sometimes available at drugstores.
Other than my vinegar mixture, paper clay is the next best thing for repairing or adding to a piece of pottery or ceramic.
It is a mixture of clay and paper fibers.
You will be able to attach wet and dry pieces together and they will not crack.
There are several good books you can get on paper clay and I have a page on this site that takes you step by step on how to mix your own. The page is titled Paper Clay.
You can make it yourself by wedging blended paper pulp into clay or buy it in 25 lb. pugged bags.
Paper Clay is excellent for hand building because of this ability to combine wet and dry pieces.
I read about a technique for helping you get a good attachment of wet and dry clay, and it said to wrap wet newspaper around the completed object and then wrap it in plastic.
It is supposed to cause the moisture levels throughout the piece to even out resulting in less cracking.
It is great for those darned feet that keep falling off that too dry pot!
I recently put this to an extreme test, attaching wet clay to bone dry clay that I had "forgotten about" over the holidays.
It worked ok, but the vinegar and water mixture is still my favorite by far!
"Copyright BigCeramicStore.com, reprinted with permission."
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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. 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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