Wedging and Kneading accomplish a number of things.
The Ram's Head is particularly effective for drying out really wet clay. It can be arched
to air dry for a while before continuing. The Ram's Head is also good for blending clays
of different moistures.
The Oriental Shell begins to align clay particles, removes air pockets and allows one to
knead large amounts because only the clay under the hands is worked... the mass rotates
and moves through the hands.
After kneading the clay is closed up into a ball or cylinder, ideal shapes for putting on the wheel.
Slices can be cut off for smaller work and the edges can be patted into a ball.
Clay particles do not stay aligned forever. So clay fresh from the bag should also be kneaded.
How long should the clay be kneaded? With experience, you will note a change in the clay as you
work it. You also want to watch the moisture content if you are working on plaster.
Centering by coning and throwing continue the process of aligning the particles. Coning will
align the clay particles with clay fresh from the bag. But aligning the particles is a process that will
take longer on the wheel if you skip kneading. Why don't you try both and see what you think.Clay that
has been properly prepared is much more responsive on the wheel.
You can throw egg cups or other small items either off the hump or directly on the wheel head. If throwing off
the hump, measure the amount of each cup in some way, either by what is cupped under
your hands, or more specifically with a gauge or ruler. Throwing on the wheel head may
require a more delicate touch in centering so that the clay stays attached to the wheel.
Your test tiles can go directly in the kiln, but you still want all moisture to be removed before you close the
lid to the kiln, for the kiln's sake. If you stack them, it will take longer for the moisture to go. Stand them on
edge, leaning against each other,with a bit of space between each one. Check for moisture with a
small mirror held to the opening of the kiln.