How Long Should I Have To Wait Before Trimming Pottery? Tips for beginners

Pottery trimming improves the shape of pottery by removing excess clay. It also gives the pottery a more stable base and aesthetic appeal. Trimming assures that the pot walls and bottom are of equal consistent thickness. Do I have to wait a while before trimming pottery?

The clay needs to become leather-hard before trimming. Clay takes 1-3 days to become leather-hard if you follow the slow drying process. There are ways to speed up the drying process for special occasions. 

Using trim to correct the surface texture helps achieve glazing success. An uneven surface texture leads to glaze accumulation on the pot’s bottom.  

Before Trimming Your Clay, At What Stage Should It Be?

Once your pot is leather-hard as chocolate or cheddar cheese, you are ready to trim it. Leather-hard clay retains water even when it is firm. Water makes it feel cold even when it is dry to the touch. 

You can trim, add handles, and do other changes to leather-hard clay before the clay hardens. It is possible to handle the clay without leaving fingerprints at this stage.  

The leather-hard clay has a paler color than in its plastic form. At this stage, clay is brittle and will crumble if you apply pressure to it. This video shows you how to identify leather-hard clay. 

How Long Should Pottery Dry Before Trimming?

It will take 1-3 days for the clay to turn leather-hard. This drying time depends on how you store or dry the clay. Clay thickness and humidity affect the drying time of pottery. 

How Do You Dry Pottery For Trimming?

Slow, even evaporation is the proper way to dry pottery for trimming. By controlling the humidity, you can slow down the drying process. Clay takes longer to dry if the humidity in your atmosphere is high.

You can control humidity using plastic. Cover your greenware with a plastic bag to slow down drying. You can keep pottery fresh for up to two weeks with this method. 

The plastic bag can cling to your greenware and erase the details on the surface. Or it can cause parts of your pottery to be softer and wetter than others. Cover the greenware with paper towels or soft fabric first. It absorbs condensation to prevent plastic from adhering to your clay.

Cover your pottery with fabric only if you wish to have the drying process proceed a bit faster. Watch this video to learn how to dry pottery without cracking it. 

What Is The Purpose Of Slowing Down The Drying Process?

Drying at a slower pace helps avoid cracks caused by rapid shrinkage. When you trap moisture using a plastic bag, it helps even dry. If you need more time between sessions, you might have to slow down the drying process.

If you are in a hurry or have a deadline to meet, you may need to speed up the drying process. Make sure your method does not crack or damage the pottery.  

What Can I Do To Speed Up The Drying Process Without Cracking My Pottery?

Put your pottery in front of a fan, a heat gun, or a hairdryer. It is better to place them on a rotating surface at a slow speed. Rotating ensures even drying to prevent pottery from cracking. It is possible to put your pots on the top of a hot kiln.

Try to make your pieces as thin as possible. Ensure that they have an even thickness. Thinner walls are also more efficient at drying. For a fast-drying experience, you need strong joints on your pottery. Turn pottery over to expose the underside to air.

Greenware dries at a consistent rate. It is better to avoid drying out one part of the clay faster than another. The clay body will be under a lot of stress if this occurs. Shrinkage differences can lead to cracks in the piece. 

Putting pots on shelves or grids helps them evaporate faster. Smaller parts of pottery are quicker in drying. Cover those small pieces to ensure even evaporation. Thick or large pottery takes longer to dry. 

To dry mugs, arrange them in a circle with their handles facing each other. It creates a humid environment where the mugs’ handles can dry out.  

Use a plaster bat to turn your clay leather-hard within twenty-four hours. Put the pottery on the bat, cover it with fabric, and seal it in a plastic bag. The plaster bat draws water from the base to quicken drying. The moisture in the bag controls the drying speed for steady results. 

Is There A Difference In Drying Time Depending On The Clay Body?

Evaporation performance varies depending on the type of clay body. A clay body’s drying performance refers to its ability to shrink without cracking. Clay bodies with poor drying performances need more time to dry. 

The preparation of plastic clay is more tedious, and it takes longer to dry. Clays with high plasticity tend to shrink as they dry. This uneven shrinkage can cause cracks.

As grog clay is less plastic, it is easier to dry. It does not need any special preparation to dry. You can dry it in the sun with a lower risk of cracking. 

Porcelain is prone to cracking as it shrinks a lot when drying. Drying takes less time than usual because porcelain loses water fast. You have to pay careful attention to porcelain when drying to prevent cracking.

Can You Use Candling To Speed Up The Drying Process?

Candling is an alternative to speed up the drying process. In candling, you have to heat the clay to the boiling point of water in the kiln. As a result, residual moisture and mechanical water evaporate from clay. 

The candling process prevents the pottery from exploding when water turns into steam. It is suitable for humid environments. If your kiln is electric, you can pre-program it to hold for a specific time. 

Conclusion:

There are several ways to speed up the drying process. Candling is also a valuable investment in a busy life. Keeping your pottery from cracking when drying is crucial.

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