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I am a hobbyist and I throw at my universities ceramic studio. I have a really hard time drying things right. I go on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon. If I throw something on Tuesday, I cant get it to dry properly by Thursday. If I put a plastic bag over it it is still far too wet to trim on Thursday and if I leave it completely bare it gets to bone dry. I cant figure out what to do differently. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

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Does the studio have a drying cabinet? If so,  You can use Mea's suggestion with the fabric and if the piece is not dry enough, pop it into the drying cabinet until it is dry enough to trim.

JohnnyK

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mea has the answer for your situation.

another choice may be to learn to trim bone dry pots.  it takes a sponge and water, a little more time and some courage.  you have already written off the pot, so try it.  wet the pot just enough with the sponge, take off that layer of wet with a  sharp tool, repeat sponge, tool  until done.

the key to making this work is just to know what amount of wet is enough.  if you totally dry out a small piece of your clay, business card size is good, and dip it into water, you can learn how much water it can take before crumbling.   hold it for a short time and scrape away what looks wet.  very little is gone.  try again a little longer and you can scrape more.  your clay, your sponge, your experience will teach you how to do it.  if you are silly, you might hold the clay in the water and watch it dissolve.  apparently that experience started the rumor that "you can't trim bone dry pots."  

that one is just as "correct" as the one about exploding air.

Rae Reich likes this

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A suggestion: 
Make several "test" bowls at one sitting.  Does not matter if thrown or handbuilt, but thrown is more informative. 
Cover number 1 very carefully to keep moist for a long period.
cover number 2 very lightly
cover number 3 more than lightly but not as much as for long storage.
cover number 4 more than 3 but less than 1
cover number 5 more than 4 but less than 1
 ... etc until you run out of space or get bored.
 
Put the pots  on your shelf and check them first thing every time you go to the studio.   Evaluate how moist the pot is relative to trimming or making attachments, and other needs.   Don't stop the experiment because of cracks; a cracked pot can still tell you a lot about how it dries.  Recycle later after you get the drying information. 
 
After a few inspections over time you will have a fairly good idea of how to cover your ware between scheduled sessions.  Pay attention to the weather -- temperature, humidity, wind, and the AC in the studio -- as these characteristics of the immediate environment at the pot storage are important. 
 
Keep notes and use them to guide your decisions.
 
Also learn the technique of trimming dry pots as mentioned by oldlady. 
LT
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2 hours ago, GEP said:

Try covering the pots with fabric. It will slow down the drying but not as much as plastic. Try different thicknesses and fabric contents. They will all yield different results. 

Oh, this is interesting. Hadn't considered that.

I don't know if it's a good idea - or where (if) I learned it - but I spray some water into the plastic bags I use  before I cover the pot.  I think it helps, but I'm sure someone here will be able to put me straight if it doesn't.

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Instead of trimming on Thursday, why not make another pot?  Then next Tuesday you can trim #1, and make #3.  Thursday you can trim #2 etc.  Given the extra time, the first pot should be ready to trim.

Min, Rae Reich and GEP like this

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hantremmer, sheet plastic is something that people use often and in the oddest ways.  some wrap the entire pot in a large piece of plastic and keep it just the way it is for an entire week until the next class.  then a hair dryer brings it to the right consistency. some wet the pot more first, some add water the way you mention.   

i have the benefit of my own studio so i can do as i please every day.   but, after throwing 20 or so bowls that i have trimmed and slipped  while still on the wheel just cutting a foot is left.   i loosely cover them with an opened plastic grocery bag.   the bag has the handles cut off so it is like a dome of plastic with a  roughly opened bottom.  some just sit there on their bats waiting for the next day covered like that to even out the moisture and dry the slip for carving.

if i want to do something else  the next day and want them to be available to trim more than 24 hours later, i put the small, square bat with the pot still attached into the bottom of a plastic grocery bag and bring the top up and into the interior of the bowl.  that will do for 2 days.

bags with the handles cut off are so easy and free that i do not understand the need for large plastic sheets for small pots.  okay, a huge bowl will not fit in my bags but they are rare for me.  the problem i see with the large sheets is the amount of dust raised when someone looks at "their" pot (in a shared setting), discovers it is not and wraps it up again before continuing to look.  cough, cough.......

you can probably figure out why i cut off those pesky handles that grab anything nearby.:wacko:

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Yeah that's a tough one. Classes at any level should have drying cabinets or at least covered shelves.

If not, you should still have access to your work 24/7, which most university art departments have.

Pottery is a all about timing and commitment to the medium.

You can always tell a ceramics student by the mud on their clothes...

Edited by Rex Johnson

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