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Re: Cover tables for clay?


Date: Fri Apr 04 2003 - 16:09:41 PST

At the beginning of the year, my school's maintenance department gives
me a large box of garbage bags (plastic), about 19 inches long. I have
a ton of masonite boards that were cut for me years ago that fit into
the student's bins with their clay wrapped up in moist (NOT DRIPPING
WET) paper towels until they are finished. As they are finished, I put
them in the kiln room to dry out for a few days under a fan. I do not
turn the fan on the first night, as that can crack them. But by the
time they have sat out overnight, I am able to put them under a fan to
finish drying. What you are making can make a difference in how long
you take to dry out the object. For example, I would take longer to dry
out a slab box project than just about anything else, as the corners of
the boxes can pull apart if they dry too unevenly or too fast. But for
all other types of work, I let them spend one night with no fan, exposed
to air, followed by a day or two with a fan blowing on them, and for
thicker pieces that I still suspect might be wet, I set them on top of
my kiln when it is hot, to finish dryingi them totally. You said you
are working with air dried clay. I have not worked with air dried clay
before, but I would treat it like any other clay, just don't fire it! I
have a great way to keep clay moist between sessions. I have the kids
grab about a half inch thick of single fold paper towels...the cheap
brown school paper towels. They soak them in a bucket, still folded.
WHen they are evenly soaked, (no dry spots in the center) they take them
out of the water, still stacked together. Then they wring ALL of the
water out of them, as dry as they can get them. then they take them
back to their table to wrap up with the plastic bags in their bins.
I tell them to open up the plastic bag so that the bottom of the bag is
centered in the bottom of their storage bin, which is about 18x9 inches.
They drape the plastic bags over the edges of their bin with the bottom
of the plastic bag centered in the bottom of their bin. THen they set
the board in the bottom of their bin. I know this sounds like a drill
sargeant way, but by putting the bag in the bottom of their bin BEFORE
they put the board in the bag keeps the boards from tearing the bags at
the corner of the board, thereby potentially creating an airhole in
their bag. Following the board centered on the bag in their open bin,
they put the clay piece on the board, and take their paper towels and
layer them all over their clay....several towels deep on the layering.
By doing it this way, the clay is never too wet, never too dry, always
JUST RIGHT, even if they don't come back for several weeks, such as over
Christimas holidays!'d think they'd all know wht to do to
seal it up, but you have to tell them this too...
gather up the bag from around the bin edges (remember you opened it out
over the edges of the bin in the beginning)and gently squeeze the air
out of the bag by "carressing" their clay figure as if it were made of
dynamite to swoosh the air out of the bag. Twist the bag many times to
close it, and lay the twisted part underneath the board in the bottom of
the bin, or use twist ties if you need to. I never use the ties, just
have them lift the board a bit and stick the long twisted bag top under
their board, thereby sealing it off adequately. Teach them this method,
and they will never have clay that is soggy, swampy, or dried up when
they come back to it. You could also do this yourself if you put their
pieces all together in a big box with a plastic bag opened inside the
box. Have kids write their name in permanent pen on a piece of paper and
rest it on their piece inyour group box if you do it that way.