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I Hate Wedging


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You can throw without wedging your clay so long as you are only throwing a few pounds or less. If I am doing larger pieces I wedge the clay, but doing cups and bowls I see it as an unnecessary step. After centering and coning the clay you will effectively have wedged it on the wheel.

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Yeah, don't like it either, but as Marcia says, necessary. I used to wedge all the clay for the day first, for a couple of hours. Now only for a couple of hours of work at a time. Still wedge all my clay even straight from the box. However, as I store my clay outside in the Winter it would not work otherwise. I spiral wedge, and use rams head to change movements. I have low wedging table where my arms go down at an angle more than 45 degrees. This allows me to lift at the shoulders as pushing forward with the clay. Great for the back and core stretching. At the same time I really don't use my wrists much at all just enough to turn the clay. Still can wedge 25# at a time, but more often only do about 15# in a lump. These I use as hump, or cut down and ball up into individual pieces. 

 

 

best,

Pres

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For those of you that wonder what the hubbub is all about, I will leave a link about wedging here

 

http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramic-supplies/pottery-clay/clay-wedging-101-a-great-way-to-teach-and-learn-to-wedge-clay-properly/

 

That said, I have taught wedging to HS students. I taught the two techniques here, and one other that I found more efficient than the first one here-Rams head. This this the grip is more to the ends not pushing forward with the palms, but  moving the mass with the hands holding the ends pushing the center against the table. Have to see it to understand, but it is symmetric as his Monkey is. The Rams head has more of the spiral on each end of a log like lug showing. I prefer Asian myself, and often use it after a bit of slash and slam to do as his says-remove moisture, mix to an even consistency, remove air pockets, and align the clay particles in an organized direction. The cone technique lends itself well to this by aligning the particles in a cone shape following the direction of the wheel. I believe that one of the reasons I don't have to wheel wedge with coning/mastering is because of the Asian wedging that I do. 

 

 

best,

Pres

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If it is from the bag with no air bubbles I 'wedge' it on the wheel. Recycling has a mix of drop wedging and spiral wedge to finish. I enjoy recycling clay.

 

I hate wedging porcelain, I find it some non-Newtonian nightmare that has a weird skin and if you push it too hard it breaks. Could be bad porcelain but every time I try it is horrible. Stoneware is a joy to work with and wedge with the right water content. A little exercise to get you pumped up for throwing.

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"Hate" is a very strong word for a mere task...

 

I'm rather indifferent toward it, it just has to get done. I suppose I even kind of like it. It's sort of a puzzle. How can I portion the clay, wedge it, and setup on at the wheel for daily production to maximum efficiency? How would this vary for a new form? Doing it right can make a big difference in daily productivity.

 

It's time consuming and our clay consumption rate is getting rather high so Peter Pugger here we come... That will bring new challenges, how much of a 3" diameter pug needs to be cut for each form? How can we make adjustable cutters for our forms to cut multiple pugs as we extrude?

 

I had a mentor who heard me say I "hated" something once and he gently pulled me aside and whispered in my ear; "Why don't you just change your mind, and have a beautiful day?"

 

I realized that most of things I was "hating" were a matter of choice, and I could just as easily choose to "like" them. Or, at least "enjoy" them, or "enjoy" the opportunity to learn and develop my technique from them... I didn't have to be a victim of the things around around me. The attitude we bring to our work is just as important as technique. 

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These I use as hump, or cut down and ball up into individual pieces.

 

Hi ! I have three questions.

 

1) I don't like wedging at all, but I do it because I must. To motivate myself, I mentally picture some awful results I've had in the past, when I thought I'd skip wedging because it was "just for small bowls or cups". Therefore my first question: What do you call wheel-wedging ? how do you do it exactly ? it is as good as spiral wedging ? up to which weight do you do it ? (note : while centering, I usually barely need to cone)

 

2) I have a list of throwing dimensions for each type of pot I make, as well as the weight of clay needed to do so. My former boss taught me to wedge the day before a throwing day, and store my balls in different plastic bags according to their weight, ready for use on the next day. I do as I've been taught, but while doing so, I somehow always face the same dilemma and problems :

 

- Do I pre-weight quantities of porcelain (directly from the bag), form lumps, and THEN wedge each lump into ready-for-use balls of clay ?

>> It is uncomfortable to wedge small quantities of clay, dozens of times over, and I find it very time-consuming, but I'm sure each ball is correctly wedged and has the desired weight.

 

- Or do I wedge a bigger quantity and THEN divide it into sections that I'll round up to form balls ?

>> I find it quicker and less painful for my body, but I'm constantly having to adjust while dividing the big wedged lump: I somehow rarely manage to cut away exactly 250g or 400g, or 1000g, and when I have to add clay to reach the desired amount, I always have to wedge again ! My former boss does it this way, with good results, but she doesn't care to weight clay as carefully as I do (she uses stoneware, and I use expensive porcelain). Are there tips to accurately cut a lump of clay to a desired weight ?

 

3) I've been taught to place a board below the plastic bag into which I store my balls ready for the next day, so that it acts like a tray and each ball is ready to be thrown in the same direction it has been wedged. I've also been taught that it's best to wait overnight between wedging and throwing. When I shared all this with other potters, they've laughed and said I'm making life too difficult for myself. I'd be happy to have other potters on this forum chime in. I'm all for doing things properly, but I also want to rationalise time and effort. Also, none of these potters throw porcelain.

 

I've had my own studio for less than a year, and I'm always happy to hear tips and words of wisdom. Thanks !

 

Emma

 

PS: I don't own a pugg-mill.

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I have no idea about the waiting over night thing, maybe for clay you threw then balled up and bagged to throw again the next day. But for clay straight out of a pugged bag commercially: 

 

You don't have to have perfect round balls to throw good pots, the key thing is to make sure the bottom is rounded so that there is no air trapped under your pot that later messes up your foot or causes the pot to come off the bat/wheel.

 

If your making small pots like 1-2 pounds I would just cut from the bag of clay into cubes and round the bottom by rocking it gently on your wedging table before attaching it to the bat/wheelhead.

 

That small amount of clay can easily be centered even if it isn't rounded before. You can then either cone up or down on that cube on the wheel head if you feel its needed. This will align the clay particles for an easy throwing experience similar to wedging. I used to wedge everything out of the bag, but once I figured out I could do this, I only wedge larger pieces that if un-wedged become difficult to center efficiently. 

 

I am no expert on the matter, but I would only wedge something over 4-5 pounds, however if your less comfortable centering that weight then maybe decrease that amount to 3-4 pounds. Of course all clay that is being re thrown needs to be wedged. 

 

 

 

I agree with Mike, about the topic of the word Hate. 

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bill van gilder has a video out about wedging and putting handles on mugs.  i saw it yesterday but do not know how to tell you to find it on youtube.  it is excellent, even if bill goes on a little bit.  about 7 minutes long  that could make a difference for you.

 

just realized i forgot the important part, he shows how to use a wire cutting thing that gives him even sized clay pugs.  if you use the idea with a big block of fresh from the bag clay it should work also.

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I find that wedging the day before to be helpful only with larger quantities, like 5+ pounds for large bowls. You wedge when the clay is a bit softer, and then let it set up a bit before you throw. Easier on the body this way.

 

The production potters that mentored me did their clay prep as EdptrKrmk describes, more for the sake of efficiency than any qualities it imparted to the final ball of clay. If you do your week's clay prep all at once, there's only one round of setup and cleaning. They did have a pug mill, but I've found the principle applies when you're working by hand.

 

I was taught to weigh clay as well. I tend to work in multiples of 8. I'll weigh out 8 lbs of clay, spiral wedge, make the cone pretty round and cut into 1 lb pieces for mugs when done. Accuracy comes with practise. If you're coning on the wheel, that should take care of any inconsistencies in the clay from having to re-distribute the weights evenly. I would not mess around wedging 8x 1lb balls.

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"Hate" is a very strong word for a mere task...

 

I'm rather indifferent toward it, it just has to get done. I suppose I even kind of like it. It's sort of a puzzle. How can I portion the clay, wedge it, and setup on at the wheel for daily production to maximum efficiency? How would this vary for a new form? Doing it right can make a big difference in daily productivity.

 

It's time consuming and our clay consumption rate is getting rather high so Peter Pugger here we come... That will bring new challenges, how much of a 3" diameter pug needs to be cut for each form? How can we make adjustable cutters for our forms to cut multiple pugs as we extrude?

 

I had a mentor who heard me say I "hated" something once and he gently pulled me aside and whispered in my ear; "Why don't you just change your mind, and have a beautiful day?"

 

I realized that most of things I was "hating" were a matter of choice, and I could just as easily choose to "like" them. Or, at least "enjoy" them, or "enjoy" the opportunity to learn and develop my technique from them... I didn't have to be a victim of the things around around me. The attitude we bring to our work is just as important as technique. 

 

"Hate is a strong word for things like social injustice." said my mother.

 

After seeing the video on the previous page and watching/teaching beginners wedging what is see is people putting too much force into the wedging process. I would describe the force needed as like a firm massage in a rolling motion. Lots of little pushes gets the job done without hurting the hands or tiring the body. Also, it is easiest to learn good wedging form on a larger piece of clay.

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