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Can I Start With A Block Of Clay?

beginner handbuilding

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#1 pcarlson1115



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Posted 08 May 2014 - 10:05 PM

Growing up, age 9-15, I did a ton of hand building and took a number of wheel throwing classes. I loved it but when I went to boarding school at 16 I had to stop. The school I went to did not have a ceramic program and the surrounding town was tiny so I had no where to take lessons. When I graduated and  got to college I couldn't afford to take lessons like I use to. I am now in graduate school and am in the same position. I have a two week break coming up next week and was wondering if I could just go out and buy a block of clay and spend my days hand building. I was hoping I could then take some of my pieces to a children's pottery painting studio by my house and pay them to fire my pieces. I don't want to pay for lesson to get back into clay and I figured hand building would be reasonable enough. Is that a realistic thing to do. I can buy a few tool but can't really afford to spend over $75. I really hope you guys say yes I have so many things I'm dying to make.

Thanks for your time. Any advice or ideas would be greatly appreciated :)

#2 Benzine


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Posted 08 May 2014 - 10:29 PM

Hmmm, I'm not sure how willing such a studio would be to fire your work.  All of their stuff is generally a specific size/ shape, and they might not want to take out space, to fire your projects.  If they do agree, they'll most likely want compensated.  To them, there's no guarantee that your projects won't cause an issue in their kiln.  


You might have better luck finding a local ceramicist, who would agree.  Better yet, does your current school have a Ceramics Department?  I'm sure those here, who have or currently teach in a college setting, can indicate whether a college program would actually be willing to do that.


If you cannot find a place to fire your projects, then you might just have to wait.  Work on sketching out your ideas, until an opportunity presents itself.  


Best of luck.

"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#3 williamt


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Posted 08 May 2014 - 11:00 PM

Do you have a pottery supply shop in your area? You can get a 50 lb box for around 25$ or less or more.
Ask them if they have a smoothish raku clay. Buy a couple of tools. Visit your local thrift shop and improvise tools.
While at the shop, ask if they know anyone who could bisque fire your ware. Make it thin or hollow so it dries well.

I suggest raku clay because it is forgiving in firing and you might decide to pit or open air fire and see what happens later.

If nothing else, get some clay, make things. Mash it all together and make something again. If it dries out. Wet it down, dry it to workability and start again.

There are always options

Have fun

Lee Tucker
Black Kitty Pottery

#4 Fuad



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Posted 08 May 2014 - 11:13 PM

Check to see if their is a potters guild in your area! Or practice using air dry clay just so you can keep practicing till you can do it properly.

#5 smallshop



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Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:46 AM

I work for a pottery painting studio and we get asked to bisque fire stuff all the time.  Unfortunately do to a lot of issues we have to say no.  Be sure to check before you spend a lot of time creating a piece that may be difficult to get bisqued.  Would a craigslist kiln be in your budget?  I have purchased two that both plug into standard household current (115 volt 15 amp and 220 volt 30 amp).  My latest find was a very old duncan kiln for $100.  Nothing fancy but it gets the job done.  

#6 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 06:48 AM

Check with the local studio first to see if they recommend a clay they would be willing to fire.
If not, ask around. And you need a local supplier as mentioned above.

Marcia Selsor, Professor Emerita,Montana State University-Billings

#7 Denice


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Posted 09 May 2014 - 08:02 AM

When your checking with you local clay supplier see if they do firings for customers and what the charge is, they offer this service at my supplier.    Denice

#8 Pugaboo


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Posted 09 May 2014 - 08:03 AM

I vote for playing with air dry clay. You can hand build, sculpt, coil a piece then just let it sit until it dries then paint it or whatever you want to do. If you don't want to go that way look around for a local arts group, studio, art center, etc and see if you can pay them to fire your pieces but find a place to fire BEFORE buying your clay so you can get the correct clay. Most places only fire to a certain cone and you need to make sure the clay you get meets their criteria. The studio I am a member at actually requires you to buy your clay through them so they know it's the correct cone, they had an issue with someone in the past stating it was a cone 6 clay when it was low fire... Not pretty inside that kiln afterwards. Buying through them also includes glaze and firing costs. So check around and I bet you can find a place as long as you meet their criteria.

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

#9 High Bridge Pottery

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 03:30 PM


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#10 Biglou13


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Posted 09 May 2014 - 11:01 PM

Where do you live? What part of country? .

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