Wishful Thinking Studio
Dedicated to Handbuilt Ceramic Arts

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 6 ...


What is wedging and why is it so important?:
Wedging is mixing moist clay so it is a consistent mixture and has no air bubbles or pockets in it. When you receive your clay, whether you purchased it directly from a supplier , a store, a friend or you dug it up and processed it yourself, it is not ready to use yet. You must wedge the amount that you plan to use at this session. This means you must work it, kneed it, slap it, drop it, so all the clay particles get moving. While the moist clay has sat, the particles have settled where they were left. They need to get moving so when you start to build, the particles will move easier. This is known as plasticity . Also, you want to get all of the air pockets or bubbles out. When you fire your piece that has air pocket or bubbles they expand and will either blow the section off the top of the bubble or if the bubble is deep in the piece it will shatter it. I have lost many pots to air bubbles before I decided that wedging solved the problem. I have become an old hand at wedging now. One time, I spent a month building a huge Mexican patio fireplace. My family and I were looking forward to being able to have a nice fire on the patio in our Mexican fireplace. When I opened the kiln all I found was shards. I could have cried. I chalked it up to experience and not enough wedging. There may also be trash (small pieces of paper, dried pieces of clay, stones, pieces of sponge from reused clay) in the clay which will annoy you to no end so wedging is a great time to get them out.

OK now you know what wedging is and why it is so important,
lets start.

Open the bag of clay and roll the plastic bag down so you can get some clay.
Hold your wire tightly one handle in each hand.
About 2 inches from the top of the clay hunk place the middle of the wire.
Keeping the wire tight, gently pull the wire towards you until the wire is pulled out of the other side.
Put the wire down, and pick up the section of clay you have cut. Don’s worry if the cut is not strait or it looks like it is cut at an angle all we want to do is get a hunk of clay to use.

Very important you do not want to claw the clay or fold it over on to itself because this creates air pockets which you are trying to get rid of.

Now you have a hunk of clay in you hands. Put the clay in one hand and with the heal of the other hand firmly bash the corners in, turning it and bashing it again so it become a ball.
Pick up the ball, cupping it in one hand (depending on the amount of clay you can use 2 hands) and smash it on to the work surface from, a height of about 1 to 2 feet, following it with your hand. It should flatten out a bit. Pick it up and do it again and again until all sides have been smashed good.
Make it into a ball again by bashing it with the heal of your hand again.
Put the ball on the work surface and kneed it like bread doe. Cup both your hands on top of the ball the heals of your hands on the high side in front of you and push forward and down firmly. Be sure that you don’t push so hard that you smear the clay all over the surface.
Repeat step #1
Put the clay on the work surface and cut through with your wire. As you pull the wire through the clay you will feel if you have any hard lumps.
After cutting the clay take the two pieces apart and examine them. Look for air bubbles that have been cut in half (they will look like craters ). Also look for any trash that may have been picked up and remove it, disposing of the trash in to the garbage can. Feel the surface and see if it feels smooth and the texture is consistant.
If it feels good , no air bubbles are evident, and no trash is in it, then smash the two halves back together and wedge it back together a little more and you are ready to work.
If it dose have any air pockets, is not thoroughly mixed, or has any trash in it, you need to slam the two pieces back together and continue wedging some more. Cut it again and repeat the inspection.
When your clay is wedged to your satisfaction you need to separate it into balls that will be the size you want to work with at one time. I would advise that you use balls of clay about the size of your fist. Shape the balls and put them in a plastic bag, so they don’t dry out.





About | Bio | Gallery | Links | News


updated 04.05.05