Clay Times Back Issues Vol. 2 Issue 4 • May/June 1996 - Page 27

The Slurry Bucket Perfect Clay Your clay is too dry and hard, yet you want to have clay that is the perfect consistency. So take the hard clay (usually in a 25-lb. bag), wrap it in a wet towel, place it in a plastic bag, close, and leave it for one or two days. After two days, if the clay is not yet an ideal working consistency, repeat the process for one more day. The clay absorbs the water from the wet towel evenly throughout. —Paula Ross Settle the Score Frequently, novice ceramic students of any age have difficulty understanding how deeply to score the clay when setting out to join pieces of clay. My high school students sometimes create significant gouges with forks or needles that can lead to disastrous results. To prevent disappointments, I created a less harmful tool: From used, clean plastic milk or juice containers, I cut shapes into ovals, circles, or rectangles with an old pair of pinking sheers (jagged-edge scissors). The ovals and circles are about the size of lemons and the rectangles are about 3-4” x 2-3”. These shapes fit easily into most hands, and are easy to use. They are great for surface decoration, too. —Karen M. O’Bryan Reflections on Raku Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a clear raku glaze is mature, especially if you’re firing in daylight conditions. Try carefully moving a metal rod, such as a piece of rebar (or even your raku tongs) beside the piece. It’s usually easiest to do from the flue opening if you don’t have a front-door kiln. If the glaze is mature, it will reflect the metal like a mirror. If it’s not mature, there will be only a shadow. Although this won’t work on matte glazes, you can include a test piece that’s glazed with clear glaze which matures at the same temperature, and then pull the matte piece from the kiln when the clear glaze has indicated maturity. —Peter Sheremeta Easy on the Back If you do a great deal of throwing, you are well-advised to take every precaution concerning your back. Two suggestions: 1. Raise your seat to the level of your wheel head; and 2. Move your foot pedal (if possible) to the left side of your wheel so that you are using some of the left side of your body and balancing yourself, since you concentrate on throwing with the right side of your body. You may want to place a brick beneath your other foot to level out your hips. Even if you’ve been throwing for years, moving the pedal to the left side should require very little adaptation for you. —Peter Sheremeta Reclaiming Wet Clay Take the FRUSTRATION out of learning to throw! Discover a Proven Method that is Fast, Fun, and Easy! Master potter Stephen Jepson reveals how to quickly center and pull up walls. You will learn how to make plates, pitchers, and mugs with ease. Get your 53-minute video, “Introduction to Throwing” for just $49.95 plus $4.50 postage & handling. Use VISA or MasterCard. The first 20 people who order will get a FREE written action guide. Call toll-free 1-800-742-3055 today! HAWTHORN BOND Fill old canvas bookbags with wet clay, then suspend them over a sink with a stick through their convenient handles. Set up a fan to blow on them, and check periodically. The clay dries out evenly, and is sometimes ready for use as soon as 24 hours later. —Kathy Perschmann Send your tips to: The Slurry Bucket, c/o Clay Times Magazine, PO Box 365, Waterford, VA 22190 or fax to (540) 882-4196. Names of all persons who offer useful suggestions for each issue are ente