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Complete Beginner And Could Use Some Help.

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Hello everyone let me fist start out by saying that Me and my wife are complete beginners at anything clay, I did some ceramics about 12 years ago in high school and always enjoyed it, anyways the wife has never done it but has always wanted to so I bought her a wheel and some tools to start out with for our 10 year anniversary, we just set it up tonight and decided to waste some clay trying things we have seen on youtube and things I remember from highschool,  But I think i slept through the basics, so out comes some dumb questions, First since I did not want to pay for a kiln I just bought air dry clay, The clay I got was minnesota rainbow white, the clay has a green film stuff on it and my first question is what is it and how do i get it off, it peels away easy enough but creates a mess and not all the clumps come out.  I know that she got excited and did not wedge the clay she just slapped in on and went, I figure the first 40 pounds of clay I bought will go to waste with practice and thats fine but I dont want things like clumpy stuff in it to hinder her ability to learn... Apart from that what are some other basics and things to know when working with clay does and donts that kind of thing, Any help would be appreciated. p.s sorry for any typos. 

 

Also would like to know what the best clay for practicing would be, best practicing techniques and just anything that will make her want to stick with it/

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I don't know anything about that clay, but I do know it's really expensive. It looks like it's twice as much as good porcelain, and 4x as much as typical stoneware. If you watch craigslist you can find really good deals on kilns (I got a good size cress for $125 and regularly see them around $200) and it doesn't take long for the cost saved from not having to buy the expensive clay pays for the kiln. Or you can build your own little propane raku kiln for about the same cost.

 

That would me my only real tip, until you have specific problems you are encountering. I don't think pottery is too complicated, it's just kinda hard and takes practice.

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Yeah I realized after I spent 100 bucks on that clay that it was really expensive in comparison to stoneware and others.  I have even thought about oven clay as I have a spare oven I was going to use for powder coating just never got it setup, and ill look into some used kilns.  Im just stumped on the stuff thats all over the clay that we got it seems like it will ruin the clay trying to get it off.  

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Aw that's really sweet of you to support and encourage your wife like that, and congratulations on 10 years, may you enjoy many more decades together! I'll agree with pautts, get your wife some stoneware, porcelain, even some low fire earthenware such as terra cotta, which costs about .10-.30 per lb. Air dry clay won't work on the wheel, it's too hard, dense and dry. Sorry you spent so much on it, it's great for making sprig molds, texture mats and things like that so it can still be used in her studio.

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Even without a kiln I'd still recommend you use ordinary clay.  I had some air-drying stuff and the difference is like trying to spread cheddar cheese on bread compared with cream cheese.  Close your eyes they taste the same, but under your hands/knife they are different.

 

With ordinary clay you can throw it/slab build/coil/sculpt away and then re-cycle it and try again.  And again. And again. And again.  Until eventually you decide you've got the hang of it and need a kiln to fire your (by now) perfect items.

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Even without a kiln I'd still recommend you use ordinary clay.  I had some air-drying stuff and the difference is like trying to spread cheddar cheese on bread compared with cream cheese.  Close your eyes they taste the same, but under your hands/knife they are different.

 

 

 

 

Sculpty tastes like stoneware? Who'da thunk it! :D

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I've used air dry clay in the past for kids projects and it's definitely different than stoneware clay. As others have said set that air dry stuff aside to use for other stuff later on and get a bag or 2 of either low fire or mid fire clay.

 

"Real" clay doesn't go to waste you can play on the wheel with it, wedge (smoosh) it back together and use it again. Play at making pinch pots, coiled pots, throw some, find an old rolling pin and roll it out and slab build stuff as well, etc etc. Even if clay dries out and becomes hard just put it in a bag with some water and it will soften back up and be usable again. Clay is amazing it's never wasted and can always be reused until you put it in a kiln. So while you are playing, learning and perfecting keep an eye out for a small kiln, if you live in or near a large city something will pop up.

 

As for low fire or mid fire.... I would go with a mid fire stoneware since its great for just about everything... Others might say otherwise.

 

To help fill in those forgotten ...ehem slept through as you say... Fundamentals, visit your local library and grab a few books on Pottery, ceramics, etc. I took a class and then checked out every book I could on pottery and learned more from the books and this forum than I did in the class.

 

Oh and don't forget to HAVE FUN!

 

T

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Hey have you checked the net to see if there is a studio close by that offers beginning classes. Often studios that do classes will have a 6-8 week run for beginners and you are way ahead of the game with a wheel at home to practice in between. Then you can re-familiarize yourself with the basics and your wife can get a good start.  Like pautts said, good used kilns can be found pretty cheap once you are ready and nothing like doing that weekly few hours with a pro to get a good solid start. They usually also come with an open studio day and you can also meet some others in the area that are learning pottery.

 

Air dry clay is really a specialty clay for specific purposes not for pottery in general, as others said just put it aside for now and get some stoneware, prob cone 6 so you can make bowls, cups and coffee cups and such and use them in your everyday lives. Pottery rocks and you are at the best part, the beginning!

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Thank you all for your replies What kind of clay exactly would you recommend... link would be preffered just found that shipping on clay can be quite prcey so i do not want to get the wrong stuff. THanks all

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It will help with us all recommending a clay if we know where you are located and if you have any pottery stores near you. I am in Georgia so for me it's a white cone 6 stoneware clay called Little Loafers since Highwater Clay is in NC and close to me. Those in the North and West might have different suggestions.

 

T

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