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Re: [teacherartexchange] HS sculpture (how to soften hard clay)


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Jan 21 2012 - 05:05:08 PST

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 "wires".

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 clay.)
6. When they are the right consistency, place in airtight plastic again.

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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