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Freeze Problem


MMB

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Well being that I grew up in FL and when in school I never came across such a problem Im left now with worry. I live in NE Georgia and it gets cold, not that crazy cold, but lately we have had nightly freezes. My studio is out in a pole barn behind the house. The walls are not totally insulated and the roof is bare tin. I have a wood burning stove to keep me warm and usually in the mornings I notice that inside the studio the temp isnt as bad as the outside temp. So the past couple of nights have been pretty nasty and this morning I found a sad sight. I had some reclaimed clay sitting out to dry some more although today it was filled with wet icy cracks. Ive always heard it is bad for clay to freeze and stupidly I thought I was free from harm. I had left two 150 watt bulbs on over the past two nights around my work table so I do believe my bagged work is ok at the moment along with some bag clay that is on the floor. Oldly enough one of my reclaim buckets that has about a gallon of clay with water has no signs of frost. The frozen clay was the only elevated one out of the bunch.

 

Anyways am I out of luck with this clay? Ive read elsewhere that this destroys the clay although Im looking for hope. Is it possible to let it dry completely and rehydrate it? Or am I still at a loss?

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I wonder how this myth ever got started? What do people think happens to clay when it is IN THE GROUND? Do they think it is at a constant 72º F?

I'm not yelling at you, MMB, I'm just amazed that this myth persists, along with the other silly one, that mold will harm clay.

 

Let the clay thaw, then let it dry to the right consistency; wedge it as normal, you will be fine. I have had clay freeze quite often, and some of the best throwing has resulted with that clay, sometime it improves the plasticity, for me.

 

The clay in the bucket did not freeze because you must add (or remove ) a lot of heat for water to change its temperature. The more water, the more heat must be added or removed to change its temperature. If you only had a cup of water, it probably would have frozen solid, or come close to doing so. The specific heat of water is a good thing for fish and other aquatic fauna that live in areas where the temp dips below freezing, it (along with the thermal mass of the earth) enables them to continue living in their watery environs through the winter.

Here's some cool looking frozen stoneware that I popped out of the bucket:

 

gallery_2550_202_93336.jpg

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I'm in Middle Georgia and my clay is frozen solid but I'm not worried about it; it freezes every winter. What did bother me, though, was spraying glazes yesterday when it was 18 degrees F. out and windy. I'm not set up to spray inside. (We don't have many days when the temp is below 20.) The glazes froze in the air but still stuck to the pots. It looked like velvet and some of the overlapping glazes actually slid down a little over each other. I fired some anyway, just in case I had made some great frozen glaze discovery (with visions of glazing in freezers). No such luck; I had to toss the pots.

 

Jim

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Guest JBaymore

I've worked in Japanese studios in the late fall when you had a bit of ice on top of the glaze bucket water in the AM. The Japanese are not big on central heat nor isulation. Here in NH I end up with seeriously frozen clay all the time. You just warm it up, wedge the heck out of it (lots of arm), and then get to work.

 

I think the myth started from people who think clay comes magically from deairing pug mills...... just like milk comes from cartons. wink.gif

 

best,

 

.................john

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Hahaha Well Im very happy to hear that. I used to love grabbing the fresh pugmilled clay ahahha Well the internet is flooded with this "myth" I found one sentence out of thousands that actually said it was ok. Being that I never knew of the problem I was hesitant yet like I said the info all over said it was bad, even such suppliers. Figured at some point in time the water always leaves the clay...i dunno. Well thank you for the reassurance. Im going to go be a dunce in this cold weather. Im a happy dunce now though :-D

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Guest JBaymore

One of the biggest myths of all, MMB, is that air bubbles cause pots to explode during firing.

 

 

Yup.

 

We spend time discussing the persistent "ceramic myths" with our students sometimes. Fun topic.

 

best,

 

............john

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Well being that I grew up in FL and when in school I never came across such a problem Im left now with worry. I live in NE Georgia and it gets cold, not that crazy cold, but lately we have had nightly freezes. My studio is out in a pole barn behind the house. The walls are not totally insulated and the roof is bare tin. I have a wood burning stove to keep me warm and usually in the mornings I notice that inside the studio the temp isnt as bad as the outside temp. So the past couple of nights have been pretty nasty and this morning I found a sad sight. I had some reclaimed clay sitting out to dry some more although today it was filled with wet icy cracks. Ive always heard it is bad for clay to freeze and stupidly I thought I was free from harm. I had left two 150 watt bulbs on over the past two nights around my work table so I do believe my bagged work is ok at the moment along with some bag clay that is on the floor. Oldly enough one of my reclaim buckets that has about a gallon of clay with water has no signs of frost. The frozen clay was the only elevated one out of the bunch.

 

Anyways am I out of luck with this clay? Ive read elsewhere that this destroys the clay although Im looking for hope. Is it possible to let it dry completely and rehydrate it? Or am I still at a loss?

 

 

I store my clay outside in the winter, and use it in the Spring. It is also the way I will recycle clay in the winter time. If you freeze the clay, a lot of the water goes to the outside in a bag. Take the clay out of a bag put on a board and allow to set in a warm place-I use my basement. The water melts off, and the clay is ready for wedging a little later!

 

I also believe that the clay is a little more plastic after freezing-I don't know, just seems so. It could be that it helps to break down the particle size a little bit more.

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When I was potting in upstate New York, my studio had a wood stove for heat. I had boards of thrown mugs freeze and they developed a fish scale surface. But when the studio warmed up, the mugs looked fine. I once fired them and no problem.

Marcia

 

 

Had that happen several times here in PA, never panic, just let them thaw.

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  • 3 weeks later...

One of the biggest myths of all, MMB, is that air bubbles cause pots to explode during firing.

 

 

Yup.

 

We spend time discussing the persistent "ceramic myths" with our students sometimes. Fun topic.

 

best,

 

............john

 

 

Would you, please, consider starting a new thread about classic myths? Apart from any formal training, we must all have done a lot of learning by example and word of mouth so goodness knows how many mythological gems we might inadvertantly have ingested! I'd be very grateful, and it might amuse the cognoscenti !

Cheers,

Sylvia

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm glad to know that if clay freezes, it isn't ruined. However, I do have a question ...... I worked for a community art school and the pottery supply company wouldn't ship (via truckload) our clay until the temperature was above freezing......same thing when I tried to order a small amount of black clay from another company. Why? I think that's one reason I always thought freezing would harm the clay.

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Freezing is always a good subject to talk about.

Mostly, though, for us major suppliers, we are cautious about shipping in freezing weather because of the posssibility of the freezing product expanding and breaking the container it is packed in.

Very few ceramic/clay products will be harmed by freezing.

The packaging is another story. A small tear in a plastic bag or a broken gallon glaze jar and you have an unhappy customer and lost product for that customer. Better to wait a day or two and ship then....

Hope this helps.

Pat Franz

www.BercherCeramicSupply.com

Kilns should be like washing machines...everybody should own one!

405-634-6922 Get yours today!

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