I poke my clay that is hard with a dowel rod, pour water over it and wrap tightly. Softens within a day.
--- On Sat, 1/21/12, Marvin Bartel <email@example.com> wrote:
> From: Marvin Bartel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: [teacherartexchange] HS sculpture (how to soften hard clay)
> To: "TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group" <email@example.com>
> Date: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 8:05 AM
> SOFTENING CLAY THAT IS TOO HARD
> Wire cut the too-hard clay into thin slices about a fourth
> inch thick. Dip each slice in water. Stack the slices up and
> bag it. Let it soak overnight or longer. Try a bag to see
> how much water is enough to make it soft enough (use thinner
> slices-or repeat to make it softer and thicker slices to
> leave it harder). Once I knew how much water was needed,
> class-time can be used for students to learn how to do this.
> A spool of sturdy fishing line can make lots of clay slicing
> CLAY THAT IS TOO HARD TO CUT WITH WIRE
> 1. Let it get bone dry.
> 2. Set the 25 pound pieces in clear water. No need to crush
> it (dust is unhealthy). Do not stir. In a few days it will
> be a mound of mush.
> 3. Pour off or siphon off excess water.
> 4. Place the thick mush on a porous surface (canvas
> supported on drying racks, dry plaster, etc).
> 5. After clay stiffens a bit, make it into soft arm sized
> logs. Bend these into tall arches and set them up to dry a
> bit. (If plaster was used, inspect the clay when picking it
> off the plaster to be sure no plaster chips get mixed with
> 6. When they are the right consistency, place in airtight
> plastic again.
> MORE ON REWORKING AND DIGGING CLAY
> A web page to rework and/or learn to dig your own clay:
> Marvin, retired teacher and potter
> On Jan 21, 2012, at 4:52 AM, Maggie White wrote:
> > Greetings from Muscat, everyone,
> > I'm about to enter Semester 2 of my first year
> here. What a trip, on many levels! The art
> department was a real train wreck when I arrived but thanks
> to very supportive admin I've been able to effect some
> positive changes.
> > Based on the previously approved curriculum, I'm slated
> to teach sculpture for the next semester. Sculpture is
> SO not my area, though I did teach it, a little, in the
> past. I've gotten a few ideas from IAD that I can pull
> off, but as there's (almost literally) a ton of air dry clay
> in the storeroom that is slowly getting harder, I was
> wondering if you have any non-dorky ideas for HS students
> that I can use it for. Some of it feels close to
> leather hard and could be carved, but I myself do not have
> the Michelangelo gene and am unable to see any figure in a
> piece of marble or plaster or anything else other than the
> shape it already is. We also have enough of that
> plaster gauze stuff to set two broken limbs on every student
> in the school. Any ideas for that other than masks?
> > Thanks,
> > Maggie
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