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How to Mold Clay

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    Wheel Thrown

    • 1). Wedge the clay by pressing and stretching to create a softer consistency and remove excess air bubbles. Ball the clay and firmly place it onto the center of the wheel. Using the sponge, squeeze a small amount of water from the bucket to the clay.

    • 2). Center the ball of clay by gently pressing the wheel pedal so that it begins to spin. Anchor one arm against your knee and slowly push the clay towards the exact center of the wheel with both hands.

    • 3). Add more water to the clay when it feels dry as you continue to center it. When the clay is perfectly centered, meaning it does not wobble as the wheel turns, begin to shape the clay into the object of your choice.

    • 4). Press your finger into the center of the clay to create an opening that leaves about an inch of clay at the base. With one hand pressing on the outside wall and the other pressing on the inside wall, slowly pull the clay upwards so that the walls become more tall and thin. Once your object has reached the desired height and wall width, pull or push the walls inward and outward to create a unique shape.

    • 5). Turn off the wheel once the piece appears as desired, and remove it from the wheel using the needle tool to separate the base of the clay from the wheel. Dry and fire the piece in a kiln.

    Hand Built

    • 1). Determine the desired shape and method of your hand built item. Possible methods of hand building include slab built, pinching and coil. Wedge the clay thoroughly by pressing and stretching to remove air bubbles.

    • 2). Begin slab building on a board by rolling the clay into a flat sheet approximately ¼ inch thick. Cut the slab using the needle tool into the necessary shapes needed to build your piece. Attach edges and corners by "scoring" each edge (scratching the surface using the needle) and adding the "slip," a liquid mixture of water and clay. Press the edges together and smooth into an even seem. Continue this until your piece has the desired shape.

    • 3). Begin pinch building by molding the clay with your hands. This method works best with bowls or small vases. Pinch and mold the clay until is achieves the desired shape.

    • 4). Roll the clay into thin or thick coils. Attach these coils together in the desired shape by scoring and slipping the edges. You can choose to smooth the surface or leave the coils visible for artistic purposes.

    • 5). Allow each piece time to fully dry and then fire in the kiln.

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