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Hi All,

I threw a few cups yesterday, intending to trim them and turn them into mugs today.  But I left them uncovered too long, and now the rims are very dry -- maybe not bone dry, but they've lightened in color, while the bases are approximately  leather hard.   (I threw on plaster bats, which absorb quite a bit of water, left the cups on them, and forgot to consider that it was a very dry day around here yesterday...  Timing is everything...)  Anyway, I could just trim them and call them cups, but I'd much prefer to put handles on them, and I like the handles to attach pretty close to the rims, and so the current situation is far from ideal.

My question: Is there any way to safely rehydrate the rims?  I'm thinking of things like misting lightly with water, wrapping in moist paper towels, or even a quick dunk in water, then wait a few hours and go from there.  Or is this one of the worst ideas I've ever had (and I've had some clunkers...) -- I'm imagining what happens to a truly bone dry piece of greenware when soaked in water -- it disintegrates -- so maybe any attempt to rehydrate would severely compromise the integrity of the pot.

Thanks in advance for any opinions and/or suggestions.

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Depending on how far they are along, sometimes just flipping them and covering tightly will even them out again. I live in a dry area and deal with this a lot. If they’re not bone dry,  thoroughly spray the pieces and cover tightly with plastic, repeating the process every 10 minutes or so until it’s back to the stage you want it at. 

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If you can trim the bottom, the only issue is attaching the handle.  If the rim dryness goes down to the top attachment of the handle that's where it be comes iffy.  Sometimes I get away with attaching handle to unevenly dried pieces by using paper slip and then wrapping in plastic for a few days.  I use this technique for every pot that is made of more than one piece.  Using a handle that is a little drier will help.  

I've never been able to even out a piece that's dried like this, I just proceed and accept some failure at this point

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Next time you have a bone dry shard of clay, dip it into water with a, say,  5 second count.  Remove and break in half.  Repeat with each broken shard increasing the "dip time" until you've dipped it "too long".  This will give you an idea of of long you can dip for.  Results will vary, of course for clay brands and weather.

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Really, it comes down to how much time is invested so far versus how much time and effort and chance of success it will take to recover the piece.  If you don't do a lot, and have the space for a piece to sit a couple of days, go for it.  I bet the plaster wet box works great, but spending a day to make one doesn't appeal.  Nor storing the wet box, nor making one big enough to recover anything more than mugs.  Doesn't take much for me to throw 2 lbs of clay to recycle.

I'm sure there are other posts here debating when it's time to move on from a failure and when it's got a good enough chance of recovery to make the effort.  To me, the 2 things I don't have enough of are time and space.   

It's always worthwhile to try stuff like this for the purpose of learning, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I second the plaster wetbox advice if you have the space to store the pieces. Mist them and forget them for a  few days, and concentrate on making new pots. Pull some handles and store them with the cups. They will stay perfect consistency until you are ready to connect them, and the handles will match the moisture content of the cups.  Getting the right amount of water in the plaster may take some fiddling at first, if things are staying too dry pour more water onto the plaster in small amounts.

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