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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Clay challenges

I'm having a much more difficult time adjusting to the 'old' clay I used to throw with than I thought I would. Even though it's supposed to be good for beginners to learn with, I'm finding it a lot more finicky than I remember. It's soft, yet stiff at the same time. And STICKY. It doesn't want to move when doing a pull, instead preferring to carve off in my fingers and on my sponge. And yet, I somehow keep putting thin spots in the wall at random, which later either collapse or tear. aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!

I did manage some small 1.5# bowls Tuesday, but the misbehavior seems magnified on larger amounts. I tried a 4# vase tonight which took an hour of finessing to get into shape. Then it collapsed when I put the plastic over it to dry. And then there was a good pound at least in the bottom of my slop bucket when I cleaned up. -- not happy.

Not giving up, but definitely frustrated. I'm going back to small bowls and mugs until I get a handle on this sticky stuff. I remember my begining wheel instructor throwing VERY dry with this clay. I'm thinking that's the only way to battle the stickyness.


gary rith said...

I am phasing out a clay I have used since 1994 and I won't miss it. Same thing happened to me yesterday as you--I was making a tall piece, and FLOP! Down it went. I found a pile of half dry scraps and wedged a stiff ball and then it worked perfectly. I look forward to a clay that is flexible but firmly and easily holds the shape!

Deborah Woods said...

Is this old clay the clay at the school you mean? Is it possible that you are having so much difficulty because the clay is not plastic and aged enough yet? I know when I was in school, the clay ended up being used almost immediately and was never plastic-hence the reason in our third and forth years there many of us starting making our "own" buckets of clay so they could be allowed to age.