Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Sara78

Wedging Clay

Recommended Posts

Hey there,

First of all I'm glad that I've found this community, greetings!

Being a noob in this field, I have a lot of questions, so I'll post the first one here:

 

I understand that wedging the clay will remove the unwanted air from the composition.

-Is it really necessarily to go through this step when we take out the clay from the plastic bag no matter what technique will use (wheel throwing or free hand modeling or just pressing the clay into a form)?

Thanks,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

we discussed this last year and lots of people do lots of different things.  learning to wedge is a very important step in your clay education.  learn to wedge first and then decide whether to use it as a preliminary step in whatever you will be making.  your education in all facets of clay work is what is important now, and wedging is one of the first things to learn.  you could not play Mozart's finest piano music without learning the scales. 

 

most of all, have fun.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you,

Good advice. As a fun fact, I just found from other sources that if the clay is just out of the sealed delivery plastic bag, will be good enough to be used as is because, wedging it we can add some air :) I'm pretty confused now trying to understand why is better when we are wedging it ...or why is not

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Sara78

 

Your best friend as a beginner... other than all the friends you will make here... is Google and YouTube. Just go and search on "wedging clay" and you will have access to how all the people of the world approaches wedging. I got  190,000 internet links to wedging and 5390 on line videos on how people do it.

 

Just Pick the one that works for you. There is no right or wrong way . ceramics has been around for millennia and every aspect is still evolving.

 

To begin with, just use the clay out of the bag. When you develop scrap that you will want to re-use then you MUST wedge it to get the air out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To begin with, just use the clay out of the bag. When you develop scrap that you will want to re-use then you MUST wedge it to get the air out.

What I've been doing for production for a few years now and not having any issues. We have a de-airing pug mill though so just use the reclaim out of the sleeve as well. I do lightly wedge and cone up and down several times. But like Bob said just go with what's right for you, once you figure THAT out.

 

Where I have a good routine your's might be different based on all kinds of things including the clay body and the environment everything is used and stored in.

 

It is confusing and can be maddening when you are starting out. Change something and often your routine will have to be adjusted.

 

That's why old potters live in the same house for 50 years using the same wheel, kiln, clay and green glaze they started with in 1976 and go into a tizzy when the owner of their supply house dies of old age, retires or worse yet turns it over to their kids who have been waiting in the wings wanting to change everything for years.

 

Just remember when it comes to pottery, change is bad! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find that most of the clay bodies that we use in my studio are useable right out of the bag without wedging. The key is to cut a cube off of the big block, which can then be made into a ball without folding it up and trapping air bubbles. If you cut a thin slab off the top of the big block, it will need to be wedged. Porcelain always needs to be wedged.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When using my slab rollover I don't wedge right out of the bag. If using scraps or reclaimed clay I always wedge. To wake up the clay, I do always slam it down a couple times as this seems to make it softer and more pliable.

 

T

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Porcelain always needs to be wedged.

 

That's good to know. Thank you,

How about vitreous, should be always wedged like porcelain?

(not vitreous china which as far as I've read,  is a glazing technique that is added to porcelain).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a beginner, go ahead and learn to wedge so you can do it when you need to.

 

But no, it is never absolutely necessary to wedge your clay. However, it is a lot easier to throw properly wedged clay than clay with air bubbles, or chunks of dry clay from reclaim mixed in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ditto on the slam, my partner/mentor gives me a side look every time I take a sliced chunk and slam it on the studio floor a few times b4 forming clay balls. We never discussed it and I think she just accepts it as a weird ritual. She wedges :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Air in the clay is one reason to wedge.

 

Getting the clay to a even consistency is another.

 

I've used clay right from the bag without any issue if the clay was a nice even consistency and I have purchased new clay that was almost impossible to use because it was too wet or too stiff and dry. 

 

I use wedging to add or remove water and achieve a clay that has a softness suited to my old hands.

 

If I add water the clay I'll poke holes in the clay with a wood dowel rod put some water in the holes close up the bag for a day or two then wedge. After wedging it will set for another day to let the clay moisture content even up.

 

To remove water I'll wedge on plaster and it's usually good enough to use immediately without setting over night.

 

For Me getting the clay to even softer consistency makes throwing significantly easier and having the clay a little more stiff makes hand building and pressing clay easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to teach ceramics in HS. I would do the standard demonstration of wedging at the beginning of classes on the first week. When doing the demonstration, I would tell the students that there were several reasons for wedging the clay:

  • Remove air bubbles from the clay
  • Mix the clay to an even consistency
  • dry the clay out somewhat
  • align the particles in an organized direction

Now I also had an anterior reason for doing the demonstration that included rams head, and cone techniques. I really wanted to know several things about the students in the class at the time:

  • Who didn't like to get their hands dirty
  • who had physical strength
  • who had coordination
  • who listened, and could use the above to match the same movements if not in the same efficiency.

Some of you might wonder why I did not teach cut and slam wedging. . . really. . . . with 25 students doing the same thing! NOISE and MESS!

 

I wedge my clay out of the bag, as I store my clay outside, and it freezes over the Winter. So when using it I always wedge it. I also recycle clay using wedging. At the same time, I have had back issues, and wedging helps me with those. Over the years, I have also found that wedging helps me to stretch my muscles before throwing, keeps me in better shape, and gives me time to think about what I am going to do for the studio time.

 

 

best,

Pres

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a wrong way to wedge and I'm doing it.  I've been trying to teach myself rams head kneading via youtube, and I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.  When I cut the kneaded clay open it sometimes has a big jagged hole in the center,  and also I'm not getting the right look on the outside, the duck bill is only forming slightly.   I've tried changing hand positions, using different pressure, using smaller pushes,  and anything else I can think of or have read about.  I'm missing some basic facet of this - can anyone point me in the right direction?  I've got the wrong direction well in hand.  Literally.  

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might be rolling the clay ball too far towards yourself after each push.  On ram's head wedging, each roll back of the clay ball after a push is just enough to give a little skinny sausage of clay at the trailing edge...or the tip of the "ducks bill".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might be rolling the clay ball too far towards yourself after each push.  On ram's head wedging, each roll back of the clay ball after a push is just enough to give a little skinny sausage of clay at the trailing edge...or the tip of the "ducks bill".

 

Your advice was right on the mark.  Thank you thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll try that Marcia, thanks for the tip.

 

 Yesterday I poked a bunch of holes in a block of too-hard-for-me clay and poured water into the holes and it seems to be better today.  I'm about to go out there and practice my new wedging skills on it.  I try to use clay out of the bag without wedging it and mostly it works but I need to start wedging regularly now that I can finally do it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.