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Fighting The Elements To Keep Clay Moist

greenware moisture

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#1 pcr



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Posted 15 October 2013 - 07:28 PM

Hi I am a newbie with a history of handbuilding on and off over the last 20 years.  The elements where I live are much hotter and windier than where I use to live and I'm finding it challenging to keep my pieces leather hard.  I want to keep them in the leather hard stage longer so that I can do both surface decorations with stencils/screens etc. Some of these pieces are containers and I want to be able to cut into them to make lids and flanges.  I can't get to these pieces every day and they are drying out too much inbetween.  I wrap them in plastic and put them in an outdoor closet under stairs.  

Any and all suggestions that would help extend the leatherhard stage would be appreciated.


Thank you.

#2 bciskepottery


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Posted 15 October 2013 - 07:56 PM

Consider one of these . . . damp box



#3 neilestrick


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Posted 15 October 2013 - 08:59 PM

Also make sure you're putting enough layers of plastic, like at least three layers of dry cleaner bags. And put your piece on a non-absorbent surface. If you have it on a wood bat, the bat will absorb moisture even under plastic. Those simple damp boxes can be made with large Rubbermaid totes, too.

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#4 Pugaboo


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Posted 15 October 2013 - 09:22 PM

I have had really good luck keeping items leather hard by wrapping entirely in a couple layers of plastic then slipping this inside of a 2 gallon plastic ziplock Baggie. I spritz the inside of the Baggie with a fine spray and seal it up the water doesn't touch the surface of the item so it doesn't hurt it but makes a nice moist room for it to sit in. They even have bigger baggies now for storing clothes and stuff if you need bigger sizes. I kept 1 piece moist enough to easily manipulate for about 3 months.

The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#5 PSC


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Posted 15 October 2013 - 10:32 PM

Place a pad of 2 or 3 sheets of folded newspaper(not the sales fliers) on a nonporous bat, place vessel on pad, take a round sponge or sponges and wet them enough so they are heavy with water but not drippy, place on newspaper pad about an inch away from vessel, cover with multilayers of plastic bags...dry cleaning or black garbage bags. Tuck bags under bat, place one more bag loosely over bagged vessel. I've kept vessel wet for months...just keep checking that the sponges are still damp now and again...be prepared for fuzzy pots if kept wet any length of time.

Btw all plastic bags are not the same at keeping moisture in, avoid the real crunchy bags like the ruffies brand and don't use plastic grocery sacks.

#6 Pres


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Posted 16 October 2013 - 06:31 AM

Years ago when I was doing shows, I had a fridge go out in the house. The new one was brought in, and the old one moved outside of the shop. I gutted all of the interior shelves, built in two shelf brackets, and started storing pots in the bottom and the freezer top. Usually kept the pieces damp for a week. It may work out for you, but you need to realize that outside nowdays building code requires a lock.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . . http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/

#7 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 06:59 AM

I put buckets or large plastic storage containers over my work. The table surface is Formica. It is a nice way to keep them
Damp and not disturb the surface.
Marcia Selsor, Professor Emerita,Montana State University-Billings

#8 TJR


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Posted 16 October 2013 - 12:05 PM

With student work we put damp newspaper-not sopping wet, then wrap in plastic. Keeps it moist over the weekend.


#9 Celia UK

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 12:58 PM

I'd go with the aforementioned 'magic box' every time. I have several in my workroom, as I don't get to my pieces every day, either. I have some flowers that I made by pinching, about 6 months ago - and they've remained leather hard. Also, if a piece has become too dry, it will 'come back' if stored in a magic box. I've done this with a slab built jug that needed a new handle adding, as the first one pulled away from the body as it dried (I didn't wrap it up). By the time I could get back to making a new handle, the jug was too dry for effective joining, so I left it for a few days in the magic box - hey presto! It had dampened down enough to add the new handle successfully!
Magic boxes have transformed my life - no wrapping, spritzing, plastic marking the surface or any other inconvenience.

#10 pcr



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Posted 16 October 2013 - 07:20 PM

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for all the great suggestions.  I'm definitely in for trying the magic box along side the paper and plastic suggestions.  I am assuming the plaster is mold making plaster versus regular plaster.  Can someone please confirm.  I'm excited to make my Magic Box!  Thanks again!



#11 oldlady


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Posted 16 October 2013 - 09:47 PM

the damp box works well.  put at least an inch of plaster in the bottom.  i just used handles last week that i made a year ago at a friends studio.  still soft.

"putting you down does not raise me up."

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