These hands were made for… Pottery

Welcome to part two of my hand ceramics series! In this post, I will focus on how we recycle used clay for new projects and the third hand-building technique known as slab building!

WEDGING – What is it, why do we do it?

Wedging is a kneading process used to remove air bubbles from clay. If you have pieces of clay leftover from old projects, wedging allows you to put all those pieces together so they can be used again. If you are using clay from a fresh bag you won’t need to wedge it to use it! Now, wedging is tricky! You have to use a lot of your body weight to manipulate the clay correctly. If you are a beginner, it will take quite a while to have the clay in its optimal state but once it’s done, it’s all good! The best way to learn how to wedge is to watch someone do it and then try it for yourself. A typed explanation would not be thorough enough!

Slab Building 101

Slab building is generally used to make objects with perfectly straight edges and 90-degree angles. For example, it is a great technique to use for boxes*, cups, or for adding height to flower pots and vases. Personally, it is my favourite technique out of the three but I do find it the trickiest (because of the wedging)! To get the best-looking design, you will need a steady hand and tons of patience. Overall. slab construction needs precision!

Pieces of clay ready for rolling

Step 1 Once all the air bubbles have been removed, we are ready to start rolling! Using the rolling pin, imagine you are rolling out a piece of dough. Start manipulating the clay using the pin. Be sure to keep an eye on the thickness as it has to be even.

Step 2 To keep the clay uniform, you can place sticks or rulers on both sides of the clay and then roll.

Step 3 Using the knife tool and a ruler, cut the clay into square or rectangular pieces to form the slabs. These slabs will become the sides of your box*.

Step 4 Let the slabs rest until they’re a bit drier. This will prevent them from bending and morphing into irregular shapes.

Step 5 Connect or form the slabs into your desired object. To ensure the slabs are connected securely, make sure to score them and use slip as the glueing agent.

And that’s it! I have included images of some of the things I made using slab and coiling techniques. Have a look below!

3 fitting words for this post: slab, wedge, patience

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