HOW TO MAKE CERAMICS THAT BEND WITHOUT BREAKING

As a professional potter, I have certainly experienced the frustration of making ceramics that end up breaking. Its a common problem, especially when creating thin pieces. But fear not, my fellow ceramic enthusiasts! After years of trial and error, I have discovered the secret to creating ceramics that bend without breaking. In this article, I will share with you my techniques and tips for creating durable and flexible ceramics that you can be proud of.

First and foremost, its important to choose the right clay. When making pieces that need to be flexible, you should use a clay with high plasticity. This type of clay is more malleable and forgiving, making it easier to shape and mold. I recommend a white porcelain or ball clay for the best results.

Before starting your project, take the time to properly prepare your clay. Kneading and wedging the clay will help to evenly distribute the moisture and eliminate any air pockets. This will help to ensure that your piece dries evenly without cracking.

When forming your piece, its important to pay attention to the thickness. If your piece is too thin, it will be more prone to breaking. I recommend creating pieces with a thickness of at least ¼ inch. For added flexibility, consider adding curved or tapered edges to your piece.

Once you have finished forming your piece, its important to properly dry it. This is where many pieces can end up cracking or breaking. I recommend allowing your piece to air dry for at least 24 hours before firing. Make sure to place your piece on a flat surface and rotate it periodically to ensure even drying.

When its time to fire your piece, slow and steady wins the race. A slow firing schedule will help to prevent cracks and ensure the piece reaches the proper temperature evenly. Its important to not rush the firing process, as sudden temperature changes can cause the piece to crack.

Another technique for creating flexible ceramics is to incorporate other materials into your piece. Adding fibers such as hemp or flax can increase the flexibility of your piece. This technique is often used in creating ceramic tiles, as it can help to prevent cracking when installing the tiles.

One of my favorite techniques for creating flexible ceramics is called “incorporating saggar.â€ This involves placing your piece in a saggar a container made of fire-resistant material with organic materials such as sawdust, leaves or straw. The organic material will release gases that will create a reduction atmosphere, which can cause unique color and texture variations in your piece while also increasing its flexibility.

When glazing your piece, make sure to use a glaze that is also flexible. There are many glazes specifically formulated for flexible ceramics on the market, so do your research and find one that works for your project.

If youre still having trouble with your ceramics breaking, consider investing in a kiln with a computerized controller. These controllers allow for more precise temperature and firing schedules, which can greatly reduce the risk of cracks and breaks.

In conclusion, creating ceramics that bend without breaking requires choosing the right clay, preparing your clay properly, paying attention to thickness, and being patient throughout the firing process. Incorporating other materials into your piece and using a flexible glaze can also help to increase flexibility. And remember, dont be afraid to experiment and have fun with your ceramics! Happy potting!

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