Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
synj00

How Wet When Throwing?

Recommended Posts

How wet does everyone have their clay when throwing? I watch videos to learn and get tips on throwing and it seems that they effortlessly move the clay when pulling and shaping. Some folks use a lot of water but that would just create slip on the exterior of the form. I get the same stiff results when using more water than usual.

 

I started out trying to throw with heavily grogged raku clay which was disasterous. I'm now using a more plastic clay which is giving me much better results but it still doesnt feel like what I'm seeing other folks do. I do understand that I'm still basically a beginner and that might have something to do with it. I'm going to experiment with draping a soaked towel over my wedged clay for a night and try to saturate it and see if it makes a difference.

 

Thanks for the input. This forum is great!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a lot of water, but I throw quickly so it doesn't have much time to soak in and cause a problem. Once I get the clay pulled up, I scrape down the piece with a metal rib and shape the form. I don't add any water during the shaping process, so I can take my time if I need to. I teach my students to just dip their hands in the water while centering, and to use as much water as needed while pulling. If you work quickly your pots won't get over saturated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a great teacher show that by reducing the amount of friction between your fingers and the clay by throwing with just the very tip of one finger on the inside and one on the outside you can move a lot more clay with a lot less water.

My pots got a lot lighter, bigger, better, easier and a heck of a lot less messy after absorbing that technique

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I work with varying amounts of wetness in the clay, and water when throwing. When throwing cylinders, I use clay that is wedgable, but stiff. Anything under 10# is usually this way. Over 10# I use clay a little softer. However, when throwing I use very little water, and when throwing larger use finger tips and no water in the last few pulls.

 

When throwing bowls I use clay more like the 10# clay for cylinders. This because of rounding out the base of the bowl and compressing the rounded curve. However, when shaping again I do not use much water.

 

Plates I use the softest clay allowing me to flatten out a disc, compress easily, and then use less water when pulling up the rim and laying it out for the edge of the plate.

 

In all of these I use a damp chamois to compress the rims, and lightly coat my ribs with water for compression or shaping after preliminary shaping with the hands.

ChenowethArts likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love Marc's logic -- use as much water as you need. I usually don't (or rarely) just drop water onto a piece with a sponge. I'll dip my hands, throw with slip as much as possible, and re-dip my hands when needed. Sponge up or use a rib to clean up as much moisture as you can.

 

I will say though, for a few years I too envied that "effortless glide" through the clay that so many youtube videos have. Then I discovered that a LOT of it has to do with how soft / worked your clay is.

 

The studios I had been with apparently mixed and pugged their clay fairly stiff, and -- especially for a beginner -- it made things quite a bit more difficult. The first time I picked up a fresh batch of soft clay.... WORLDS of difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was taught in my early pottery lessons to try and use very little water.  I probably caused myself a lot of difficulties in the beginning by not using enough.  Then one day I watched a Robin Hopper video, using a huge amount of water VERY QUICKLY, and sopping it up almost immediately, and a light bulb went on!  Ahha! Water is ok. Your fingers, tools, whatever, need to slide across that clay.

 

The longer I spend in this field, the more I have come to realize that there are so many different ways of doing things,  I try lots of different ways until I find what works for me...on that day, with that clay....

Pres likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never put water on the clay. I have developed a set of roller tools that don't need water. It's really nice to be able to pull something 10 inches tall with zero water. It gives you a lot more time to fiddle with the shaping.

 

During the final shaping, I will put a strip of wet glove leather over my fingers. This is far slipperier than my wet fingers. This adds almost no water to the surface of the clay

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Pres.  The degree of water I use depends on what form (cylinder, bowl, platter) that I am working on.  For me, the other factor involved is the wetness of the clay when it comes off the wedging table...if it is already soft, I adjust and use much less water once the clay is centered.  And, if it is any indication of how much (or how little) water I use, I can generally soak up excess from the splash pan with a small elephant ear sponge.

 

When I re-entered the world of wheel-throwing, I was using stiffer clay and LOTS of water...and on some days would have benefited from a pressure washer to get all of the slop from my face, hands, arms, & legs.  With experience comes the speed that several have mentioned..and with speed (and sensitivity to the clay's softness), I seem to have much less time to sling mud all over the place.

Chilly likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somewhere on YouTube, I came upon a British potter discussing the differences between American and British clays. His point, I think, was that British clays absorb much less water during throwing (particle shape/size/something?) than American clays, and are less quick to go soggy and weak.

Dunno if I'm remembering that right, or if it's true...but if so, I'd like to have some.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it depends on the form-I tend to always use a wet sponge held in fingers. I usually do not have to mop out any water. Its always been a pet peeve to see any slop/water in bottom of any forms so I do not let that happen.

Since having some wrist bones removed I'm throwing softer clay as its less pressure on right wrist

If you need water use it but do not forget to remove it when done.Water an be your friend with small fast forms but on larger stuff it can work the other way.

I used to rib forms but rarely us ether anymore- I feel I own them all but they sit idle most of the time. I do like a huge rib for huge bowls.

Nowday's its a sponge and chamois . I'm experimenting with the smoother sponges XIEM sells for porcelain clay-the super smooth one is to slippery to hold onto -the porcelain clay one has worked better but last week was the 1st time i used them. If I could find the right sponge I would not need to pink up a chamois as the sponge could do it all. Always questing for less seconds when working-must be the Olympic season.

Mark 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

. . .  some days would have benefited from a pressure washer to get all of the slop from my face, hands, arms, & legs. 

Guess I'm just a mud baby as when I leave the shop I have it all over me, up to my elbows, on my legs, front of the shirt, on the glasses, and face. Ain't clay fun! I never need a facial!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I vary the moisture levels in my clay to what I want to make. I use soft clay for small 'wobbly' pots and hard clay for a more solid form/ bigger forms. It really depends how I feel. Some days I like to force the clay and other days I like to relax it into a form.

 

This is why I enjoy recycling clay because you start with very wet slop and can choose what moisture level you would like. It just takes time...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I throw using slurry rather than water, and generally very "dry".  I don't have splash pans on any of my wheels, and take them off when demoing at the college... I find having them above the level of the wheelhead annoying.

 

Different clays do respond to getting wet in different ways,.  But ALL clays do get softer when they absorb water.

 

best,

 

...................john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

. . .  some days would have benefited from a pressure washer to get all of the slop from my face, hands, arms, & legs. 

Guess I'm just a mud baby as when I leave the shop I have it all over me, up to my elbows, on my legs, front of the shirt, on the glasses, and face. Ain't clay fun! I never need a facial!

 

Ahh… sounds like you DO play in the mud? bwaahahaha 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

. . .  some days would have benefited from a pressure washer to get all of the slop from my face, hands, arms, & legs. 

Guess I'm just a mud baby as when I leave the shop I have it all over me, up to my elbows, on my legs, front of the shirt, on the glasses, and face. Ain't clay fun! I never need a facial!

 

Ahh… sounds like you DO play in the mud? bwaahahaha 

 

 

I'm learning that "play in the mud" is only something clay artists should speak of in whispered voices and only within the ranks of fellow mudders....lest we devalue our work.  For the general public, in order to sound more professional, I may change that "play in the mud"  description of what we do to: "I meticulously maneuver masses of argillaceous material into adroit constructs"...yes. that's the ticket! B)

 

Oh, and to keep this on topic... I do that "meticulous" stuff with just a little water *big grin*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found as I have become more experienced at throwing, that I need less water.   A few years ago, I watched a potter throw with slip.   It really changed how I throw.  But if you need more water now, that's ok.   You will probably find that your style of throwing will change with time.   And it's really ok to change how you do things.   If it works for you, it is fine!

 

Pres, so glad to read the playing in mud comment!   Some days that is the best part!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I'm learning that "play in the mud" is only something clay artists should speak of in whispered voices and only within the ranks of fellow mudders....lest we devalue our work.  For the general public, in order to sound more professional, I may change that "play in the mud"  description of what we do to: "I meticulously maneuver masses of argillaceous material into adroit constructs"...yes. that's the ticket! B)

 

I play with mud, then I go inside and work with clay.

ChenowethArts likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×