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leslieponder

Best Bagged Clay For Throwing...currently Use Amaco 38

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Hi,

 

I've been using Amaco 38 for about two years but...I'm just thinking there has to be a softer solution.  Yes, I wedge.  The bag has not been sitting for long at all.  So, I'm looking to others for some guidance.   

 

I can center and pull fine but, I have to use more force than others in videos that I watch.  I cone up and down normally to center and then use another strategy to make sure it's truly center.  However, coning seems to take so much work and I see others doing it and its like they are playing with play dough.

 

I want to do this for a long time because I love it...but, something has to give.  

 

 

Thanks,

Leslie

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Hi,

 

I've been using Amaco 38 for about two years but...I'm just thinking there has to be a softer solution.  Yes, I wedge.  The bag has not been sitting for long at all.  So, I'm looking to others for some guidance.   

 

I can center and pull fine but, I have to use more force than others in videos that I watch.  I cone up and down normally to center and then use another strategy to make sure it's truly center.  However, coning seems to take so much work and I see others doing it and its like they are playing with play dough.

 

I want to do this for a long time because I love it...but, something has to give.  

 

 

Thanks,

Leslie

 

I use B-Mix which is pretty soft, but finicky and prone to cracking. My Speckled Buff from Laguna is fabulous and so soft it's super easy to flop a pot just because you over corrected, otherwise it's a very cooperative and pleasant clay to throw. 

 

It is possible that you're comparing yourself to someone with so much more experience. I have been throwing for two years and I look at potters with twenty years of experience and the clay looks almost liquid in their hands. I think I just have a lot to learn. 

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First off, Welcome to the forum, and where are you located? Your location will affect what's available and who your supplier is and what people will recommend.

 

Second: if your clay is too hard, it could be that the manufacturer is mixing it a bit dry. If that's the case, what you can do is pour between 1/2 to a cup of water in the bag, and seal it up tightly. My local clays will absorb the water overnight, and be much more workable the next morning. Some people have to submerge the bag in a bucket of water to force the water into the clay using this method. It makes things much easier on the body.

 

Third, if your clay really does just suck, go to your supplier and ask for alternate suggestions and try out a couple of boxes to see how they work for you. Play with it! Clay preference is a personal thing. I personally despise b-mix for the reasons most people like it (I think it's too soft to the point of being rubbery and weird). I like a red clay that is soft to throw with, but still has enough particle variation to make it stand up, but not so much grit that my hands get raw on the wheelhead. It's from Plainsman, so unless you're in Montana you might not have access to it. Clay is an art supply. What works well in one person's hands doesn't in the person next to her.

S. Dean and Min like this

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The softness of the clay has nothing to do with the formula. It's all about how much water is in it. It's also really hard to tell how hard much strength someone is using to move the clay just by watching. They may simply have stronger hands and arms than you, but are actually using stiffer clay and just making it look easy. If you're clay is too stiff, add some water and soften it up. Some clays are more dense than others, so if you just don't like the feel of your clay then try something else. Your supplier can make recommendations.

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It would help to work out with some weights and build up the strength in your arms, I would get some professional instruction.   Denice

 

Are you being a knuckle head or are you serious?  My strength is fine.

Of course she is being serious, kind and helpful.

Many potters find that building upper body strength helps them throw with better control and to throw larger. People who make throwing look easy are using focused muscle memory.

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I am not a teacher but I did fill in and teach a adult throwing class to help a injured teacher.  The main thing I tried to get across is how important focus muscle memory is.  The students loved my approach and told me they wished I was the full time teacher.  In the last forty years I have met many well know potters, they may not look it but most of them are incredibly strong.  When I was getting my ceramics degree one of my professors was a mountain man type.  He had extra large bats for his wheel, he would center and throw twenty five pounds of clay in the blink of a eye.  We didn't learn much from his demo's but they were amazing to watch.   Denice

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It would help to work out with some weights and build up the strength in your arms, I would get some professional instruction.   Denice

Are you being a knuckle head or are you serious?  My strength is fine.

Of course she is being serious, kind and helpful.

Many potters find that building upper body strength helps them throw with better control and to throw larger. People who make throwing look easy are using focused muscle memory.

Core strength is also important.

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I did not realize how important muscle tone was until a student made me aware of how strong and nimble my hands were. I had muscles in my hands that other people didn't because I was exercising them every day. I was just so used to being able to do things that I did not connect the dots.

If I was dependent on my throwing skillls, I would definitely be in the gym ... well, maybe .... well ... Ok I would think about going to the gym more.

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When I had my wrist surgery they tested my weaker left hand at it was 140#s grip-now after my wrist surgery my right hand is 110#s grip . Making pots/working in clay gives you super grip strength. I never thought about this until that test.My doctor said over 100#s she had never seen after a PRC surgery.

We potters take this for granted.

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To test if clay is too stiff or soft, I have two methods. The first is to wedge it, and see how it folds over. Some clays are dried out that they'll wedge but are so stiff the clay spreads out like a rolling pin. At this point, I thin slice it and add water between each slice until its soft enough to wedge comfortably. Then, a wire tool is pulled thru to see how easy the wire slices the clay. How easy determines if the clay is ready to make a platter/casserole, or something tall.

 

The wire tool should pass thru without having to hold it in place pressed against the thumbs. That tells me everything about the condition of the clay.

 

I suppose everyone has their own methods. Oh, I use this method if the clay will be used for throwing or coiling.

 

As for Amaco Clay I'd used something else. At the community college, students would bring it in to use and it wouldn't take the cone ten reduction. It crumbled into walnut sized chunks, even though the box said cone ten clay.

 

 

 

Alabama

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Hi,

 

I've been using Amaco 38 for about two years but...I'm just thinking there has to be a softer solution.  Yes, I wedge.  The bag has not been sitting for long at all.  So, I'm looking to others for some guidance.   

 

I can center and pull fine but, I have to use more force than others in videos that I watch.  I cone up and down normally to center and then use another strategy to make sure it's truly center.  However, coning seems to take so much work and I see others doing it and its like they are playing with play dough.

 

I want to do this for a long time because I love it...but, something has to give.  

 

 

Thanks,

Leslie

 

I use B-Mix which is pretty soft, but finicky and prone to cracking. My Speckled Buff from Laguna is fabulous and so soft it's super easy to flop a pot just because you over corrected, otherwise it's a very cooperative and pleasant clay to throw. 

 

It is possible that you're comparing yourself to someone with so much more experience. I have been throwing for two years and I look at potters with twenty years of experience and the clay looks almost liquid in their hands. I think I just have a lot to learn. 

 

 

Leslie I'm in the same situation, I just don't have the strength, (or the technique either) to throw larger than a pound unless the clay is yummy soft.  It's very frustrating.  

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my favorite clay is Coleman porcelain and a stoneware recipe I used to mix. I found B mix too gooey for my taste. Coleman has strength to go very thin...1/16-1/32". It can stretch and hold its form.

the stoneware was a work horse of a clay body. Easy to throw, make and attach handles, lids that fit, etc.

Marcia

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I am not a teacher but I did fill in and teach a adult throwing class to help a injured teacher.  The main thing I tried to get across is how important focus muscle memory is.  The students loved my approach and told me they wished I was the full time teacher.  In the last forty years I have met many well know potters, they may not look it but most of them are incredibly strong.  When I was getting my ceramics degree one of my professors was a mountain man type.  He had extra large bats for his wheel, he would center and throw twenty five pounds of clay in the blink of a eye.  We didn't learn much from his demo's but they were amazing to watch.   Denice

 

Since starting to throw two years ago my arms from wrist to elbow have become "sculpted". Granted they're still not thin because I'm not thin. But the shape of them has become less soft and follows the muscles that have developed. Makes me think about working out other parts of my body. I don't do it, but I think about it. 

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