Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All About Clay


Clay is a natural and malleable material. It air dries but it remains very fragile unless it's cooked.


  • Natural clay. Different types of clay contain more or less grease. The greasier the clay is, the easier it is to mold, but the longer it takes to dry.
  • Wire clay cutter
  • Wooden rolling pin
  • Various boxwood tools to smooth and mark the clay
  • Wire end tools for furrowing the clay


  • Set up your work at a table protected by oilcloth, because clay can stain (especially red clay).

  • Work the clay at length (half an hour), kneading and mixing it. Work out any air that might be contained in the clay so that it doesn't shatter during firing.

  • Model your object little by little, using boxwood tools or wire end tools as aids.

  • To join 2 separate parts, apply some water and smooth the clay at the junction of the 2 pieces.

  • Once your object is finished, let it dry at least 1 to 2 weeks before cooking it. Be careful, it will become very fragile!

  • Cook your object in a kiln at between 1100°C (2012°F) and 1300°C (2372°F), depending on the type of clay used.


  • Poke small holes in the most important pieces of your project to reduce the risk of breakage during cooking.

  • When clay dries, it becomes very fragile. To make your object more resistant to drying, cover it with a damp piece of cloth just until the object is dry. The slower the drying, the stronger the object will be.

  • Cooking clay is often complicated, since most people don't have permanent access to a kiln. Visit your local municipal hall or craft store to find craft clubs, universities, or workshops in your area that allow public access to their kilns.


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