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how to soften up stiff clay


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#1 smokin pots

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:44 AM

I know a while back I read how some of you did this, but I can't find the old post.
My clay is too hard to wedge from the bag.
I know I read where someone put water in the bag and double bagged it and dropped it in water
to keep moisture on the clay surface. I don't think they poked holes in it. Does this soun familiar?
Any help appreciated . I want soft clay!!Posted Image
Juli
la paloma texas pottery

#2 Matt Oz

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:05 PM

Hi smokin.


I found the post your looking for in this thread.. First time on a wheel


Here is the post itself:

Your terra cotta clay may be a bit dry and just need some moisture restored to make it more workable. Assuming the terra cotta is in its plastic bag, add about 1/4 cup water, squeeze out excess air from the bag, and tie off the top. Put the clay/bag in a bucket and fill the bucket with water until the water level is just below the top of the bag. Let stand overnight. Next day, check the clay to see if it is more moist. If it is still dry, add another 1/4 cup and repeat. The water in the bucket will force the clay to absorb the water you poured into the bag more evenly. An easy way to rehydrate clay that has dried out.



#3 Chris Campbell

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:47 PM

The lazy person's (me) way to hydrate clay is to wet a towel, wrap it around the clay, put it all in a plastic bag and wait ... a day to a week to ???

Chris Campbell
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#4 smokin pots

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:08 PM

Thanks so much to both of you!!! Matt, I don't know how you found the thread. I searched all over for an hour.
Chris, I think I will try both ways. I wish every box of clay would come double wrapped with tight twisty ties.
Juli
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#5 Mark C.

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:27 PM

My take is different depending on if its stoneware or porcelain-if its porcelain I squeeze a small round 2 1/2 inch sponge of water (this is a way of measuring the amount) per pug then I roll the pug onto a different side for about 1/2 day per side. Stone ware I just add water to bag and wait-it rehydrates easier.
Mark
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#6 Matt Oz

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:45 PM

Thanks so much to both of you!!! Matt, I don't know how you found the thread. I searched all over for an hour.
Chris, I think I will try both ways. I wish every box of clay would come double wrapped with tight twisty ties.
Juli


I used Google, when I what to search something on this site, Google works the best.

I remembered what you where referring to, and that a bucket was used, so I entered this into google search: site:ceramicartsdaily.org/community bag clay water bucket

Now that you know my secret, don't tell anyone. B)

#7 perkolator

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 01:13 PM

you can also poke lots of holes in your clay with something like a dowel/broom handle - then pour water over and let it flow into the holes to absorb faster/evenly. works fairly well. it's pretty much the only solution when have about a half ton of clay stiffening up on you because someone forgets to wrap the pallet up tight at the end of the day.

on similar subject - when you have clay that's too wet to use and don't have plaster or similar surface to dry on: take clay and make arm-thick coils - arch them into rainbows on the tabletop and poke many holes all over them with fingers -- this will significantly increase the surface area and they'll transpire/evaporate water fairly quickly.

#8 bciskepottery

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:18 PM

I tried poking holes . . . but found that approach created air pockets and air bubbles that are difficult to wedge out. If you have a pugger, then its not likely to be a problem.

#9 smokin pots

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:45 PM

I received this reply from Laguna and It sure helped. Dropping the bag several times really helped make the clay workable.




There are a number of factors that go into a clay becoming either hard or soft after it is mixed and boxed. It is not just a case of too much or too little water or how long it has sat in the hot Texas sun ---though those factors can indeed have an effect.



Also the pH of the water and of the materials themselves can cause clay to harden or soften. If the clay is slightly alkaline the clay can deflocculate and become soft ---if it is slightly acidic it will flocculate and become firm.



Though we try to control many of the factors that make the clay firm or soft it’s not always possible to do so.



If you find that your clay has firmed up, the first thing to try is to drop it on a hard surface such as a concrete floor. Many times this will loosen the clay up after it is sat for a long time. If you find it needs more water ---add a cup of water to the bag of clay –seal it back up and roll it over occasionally. The clay will soak the water up thru capillary action over time and will soften back up.



Hope that helps--



Best regards

Jon Pacini

Clay Manager

Laguna Clay Co.




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#10 Mark C.

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:36 PM

Jon's answer is what I do with every pug I throw-I drop it hard on wedging table on each of the 4 sides first in the bag before unbagging it and cutting it up to throw.
My table is strong and the floor is to much bending over.
I suggested the wet and roll the pugs in my above post-I'm doing that now to 300# of porcelain to throw this week.
mark
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#11 Brenda Neall

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 12:56 PM

I soften up all my clay before using it. I live in a small, isolated town and don't have easy access to a pottery supplier so I often have to store clay for awhile before using it. I also like my clay to be soft when I throw. This means that I have to soften my clay just about every time I open a box (and btw - Plainsman Clays don't use twist ties - they use an extra long bag folded over which keeps the clay fresh longer - I wish all suppliers used this method). As a result of having to soften my clay often, I've come up with a process that works well for me:

For one box of clay: I use 2 old large cookie sheets (one per bag). I put a piece of thickv apour barrier plastic on the bottom which keeps the pans from rusting. Then I put down a large piece of the light plastic I use to wrap my pots. I soak several pieces of old t-shirt material in water. I slice a block of clay into .5-1 inch slices. I put down a layer of wet t-shirt material onto the plastic, add a layer of the sliced clay, spray with water and then put down another layer of material. I keep adding layers until the block is gone and then finish up with a layer of material on top. I use the light plastic to wrap the whole works up. I let it the trays sit for at least 48 hrs before wedging.

Also, again because I have to be resourceful about my clay supply, I add 1/4 to 1/3 of processed recycled trimmings to the new clay when I wedge it up. I keep my scraps in water in large buckets and use a framed plaster drying bat I made to get the recycled clay to wedging state.

#12 mel@ddp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:12 AM

you can also poke lots of holes in your clay with something like a dowel/broom handle - then pour water over and let it flow into the holes to absorb faster/evenly. works fairly well. it's pretty much the only solution when have about a half ton of clay stiffening up on you because someone forgets to wrap the pallet up tight at the end of the day.

on similar subject - when you have clay that's too wet to use and don't have plaster or similar surface to dry on: take clay and make arm-thick coils - arch them into rainbows on the tabletop and poke many holes all over them with fingers -- this will significantly increase the surface area and they'll transpire/evaporate water fairly quickly.


Works great, thanks!

#13 Bobg

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:25 AM

This is how I rehydrate clay that is too hard to turn. I leave it in it's plastic bag and pound down the center of the plug so it's dished with ridge all the way around. then take a dowel or anything round and poke holes almost all the way through, just down poke all the way through. I do this until I have a hole about every square inch, then fill til the dished out area is full of water. Cover tight with a piece of plastic and then leave it until it's the right texture to use. Dump any residual water off and then wedge and use.

Bobg

#14 Dinah

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 08:00 PM

I remove clay from plakkie bag. Wrap in towel. Place in a big plakkie bowl I bought from feed store and then drizzle water on it and roll over every day or so. Takes about a week. The drop and thump deal works too. Especially porcelain.
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