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Im new to throwing and tried out a new clay. It's pheonix, a white earthenware. I learned to make handles with red Rock and the first handle I made with pheonix was much harder to get the right form. It seemed too flexible and flimsy to hold shape. Should I let this clay dry out before forming and attaching my handle? Thanks

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1 hour ago, A Creasman said:

Im new to throwing and tried out a new clay. It's pheonix, a white earthenware. I learned to make handles with red Rock and the first handle I made with pheonix was much harder to get the right form. It seemed too flexible and flimsy to hold shape. Should I let this clay dry out before forming and attaching my handle? Thanks

Not dry out, but I usually pull my handles (or take them out of the wet box) an hour or two before I use them.  Gives them a chance to harden up a bit.

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If you do need to "dry" the handles out some before attaching, remember that you want to attach pieces of clay when they are at the same moisture consistency so they can dry/shrink together. So if your handle is dryer, your mug body should be too.

I pull my handles a few hours after I make my mug bodies; the mugs take longer to dry out, and the handles take a while to make compared to the mugs. Usually by the time I have the handles made, the mugs are ready to flip over, and feet can be addressed/stamped, and ready for handles. Ill bag the mug bodies until the handles or vice versa are the same moisture content. I like for my handles to definitely not be tacky,  but not truly leather hard either. If the handle was a straight slab, when I pick it up by the far end, I want it to slump slightly with gravity, but not flop. This way when its attached, it will maintain its shape. If the handle is softer, and it slumps when you put it on the mug, just sit the mug, with the handle attached, upside down for about an hour or so, and then re-shape the handle

After handles are put on, mugs are dried under a piece of plastic for 2-3 days to allow handles/bodies to dry at same rates; smaller/thinner handles also have more exposed surface area which will want to dry out very rapidly.

Handles, especially good ones, take lots of practice. Its all about the timing/feel.

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My preferred method of pulling handles is to pull them on the mug. It give a more natural looking attachment, and is the fastest method. However, with some clay bodies (porcelain) tend to crack when doing them that way, so you have to pull them first, let them set up, then attach them. There's a sweet spot where the handle is dry enough that you don't muck it up while attaching it, but soft enough that you can still manipulate it slightly if needed.

A good stoneware body with a little tooth shouldn't need slow drying after attaching. Smooth stonewares are more prone to handle cracks at the attachment point, so slowing them down can help. I often put porcelain mugs directly into the kiln to dry and fire after attaching handles, with no problems. In fact, fewer problems than slow drying. Fast drying in the kiln tends to dry things pretty evenly.

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I wonder if your clay body is wetter out of the bag than you think. Try setting some clay aside for handles out of the bag while you throw, wedge portions and restore after it has set for a while. Wedging will remove some water, and assure an even consistency. Then try pulling your handles, and placing them on your finished leather hard mugs. If having problems with an arc or curve, try drying them upside down to let the natural weight of the handle give you the arc, then when stiffened slightly finish the handle curve with a few quick movements of a damp finger on the inside of the handle curve.

 

best,

Pres

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