Welcome to the exciting world of pottery where we make our hands dirty and create magic with the earthy clay. As a beginner, you might have heard a lot about wedging clay, but do you know how important it is to create a perfect piece of art? In this beginner’s guide, I will take you through the importance of wedging clay and how to do it correctly.
Firstly, what is wedging clay, you may ask? Wedging is a technique that prepares the clay for throwing and hand-building. It is the process of manipulating the clay to make it smoother and more homogenous. Clay comes out of the bag uneven and mixed with air pockets. These air pockets create weaknesses in the clay and can cause it to crack, which is why wedging is essential.
The aim of wedging is to remove air bubbles, lumps and even the moisture present in the clay. When wedging the clay, it also aligns the particles which gives the clay more strength, making it easier to work with and less likely to slump or warp.
There are various techniques to wedge clay, but the most common methods are the Spiral Wedge and the Rams Head Wedge. Spiral wedge technique involves cutting the clay vertically and then turning it over while pressing the clay with your palms towards the table in a spiral motion. On the other hand, the Rams Head Wedge Method is named after the shape that the clay gets after wedging. In this method, the clay is slammed and pounded onto the table repeatedly.
It is essential to wedge the clay correctly to prevent cracking, breaking and warping of the clay during the making process. A poorly wedged clay can cause damage at every stage, starting from throwing until firing. Wedging clay also creates a consistent texture throughout the piece, making it easier to color and glaze evenly.
When wedging your clay, make sure that your hands are clean and dry to prevent the clay from sticking to your palms. Knead the clay into a big ball and make sure its not too dry or too wet. After that, start wedging the clay either by the Spiral Wedge or Rams Head technique. It requires a lot of muscle work, so don’t forget to stretch your arms beforehand.
The amount of time you spend wedging will depend on the type of clay you are using. Some clays are easier to wedge than others while some clay requires more time and effort. If in doubt, always refer back to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In conclusion, wedging clay is an essential step in pottery that should not be avoided if you want to create a perfect piece of art. Wedging allows the clay to have better consistency, strength, and durability while preventing it from breaking or cracking during the firing process. Just like kneading dough when baking, wedging clay is crucial to achieving a great end product.
Remember to take your time and put in the effort to wedge your clay correctly. It may seem like a tedious task, but it will undoubtedly improve your pottery skills and the quality of your work.
As always, keep on creating and don’t forget that mistakes are part of the learning process. Embrace them, learn from them, and keep on pushing the limits of your creativity.