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How to Centre Clay – The One-Sided Method – From Newbie to Master!

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When working with clay, there are a number of different ways to approach the problem. You can either get your hands dirty and manually move the clay to get the detail you want, or you can purchase pre-made clay and let your imagination do the work.  The latter is much easier, but results in a one-sided view of the clay that you won’t get by using the conventional method.  You see, with one-sided clay, you end up with a clay that’s either too hard or too soft. This makes for substandard pottery, so using the correct method is essential if you want to make the best of your creative abilities. That’s where we come in.  Let’s take a look at the different ways you can centre clay and make the best of your potential. This article would be one of the best pottery classes in Singapore!

What is the correct way to centre clay?

The most obvious way to centre clay is by hand – which, by the way, isn’t recommended for newbie clay artists! One-sided clay pieces often have a tendency to “give” during firing, and it’s easy to damage your work when you’re just starting out. If you want perfect, flawlessly even clays, then you have to use the mechanical method.

The best clay centres are achieved using a “machine” of sorts. These machines are designed to “scoop” the clay into specific areas and then “press” the clay as it comes out into the open spaces. This method often leaves behind a smooth finish while keeping the original surface texture of the clay.

Avoid Over- or Under-Clay

Over- or under-clay is what happens when the clay is too soft or too hard, respectively. This usually happens when the clay is allowed to air out too much after the fact, which can lead to sagginess and a loss of texture. The best approach is to prevent this from happening in the first place. One way to do this is by using a hand-crusher to blend the clay more evenly.

Other than that, you can also use a “scoop” machine to keep the clay in uniformity, as opposed to a “press” machine that leaves the clay surface uneven. When using a scoop machine, you can also add moisture to the clay to make it softer.

Smooth Your Surface

If you’re going to add water to your clay to make it softer, then make sure it’s smooth and easy to work with. If you add pressure to the clay, then you’ll end up with ridged or textured clays. A smooth surface is likely to stay smooth, while textured clays will most likely settle during firing and create what’s known as “brown marks” on your finished piece. A smooth surface is essential to make the best of your potential.

When handling clay, never put pressure on the clay in a way that you’d normally apply during firing. This is because this “scooping” action of the machine will remove the air from the clay and form a Hutchinson ash-like compound that’s very hard on the fingers!

Instead, gently run your fingers over the surface to ensure there are no rough spots. If there are, then you can either smooth them out with a knife or take a sandpaper-type board and sand the area until smooth.

Create Intense Colours

If you’re going to add water to your clay to make it softer, then make sure it’s smooth and easy to work with. If you add pressure to the clay, then you’ll end up with ridged or textured clays. A smooth surface is likely to stay smooth, while textured clays will most likely settle during firing and create what’s known as “brown marks” on your finished piece. A smooth surface is essential to make the best of your potential.

When handling clay, never put pressure on the clay in a way that you’d normally apply during firing. This is because this “scooping” action of the machine will remove the air from the clay and form a Hutchinson ash-like compound that’s very hard on the fingers! Instead, gently run your fingers over the surface to ensure there are no rough spots. If there are, then you can either smooth them out with a knife or take a sandpaper-type board and sand the area until smooth.

Don’t Forget About the Glaze

When working with glazes, you have to be careful not to over- apply them. If you add too much water to the glaze, then you’ll end up with a watery, wet finish instead of a traditional, hard glaze like you get with a hard clay. Over-application of glaze can also cause your piece to become hard, as well as leave a wet/greasy residue behind.

When using a traditional clay such as e.g. NYS, add the water-action agent to the air space of the clay, which is the part that’s exposed to the weather. When working with a glaze, however, you need to mix the water and the agent in the same bowl or bottle, so that the water acts as a solvent and softens the hard agent.

Conclusion

The final thing you need to know about creating the ideal environment for clay is this – it’s not about what you have, but what you make of it! If you want to make the most of your talent and create beautiful, strong pieces of art, then you have to create an environment where it’s easy to work.  That’s where the one-sided method of clay shaping comes into the picture. You can either use your hands to move the clay in a circle or use a spatula, but either way you’re going to create a one-sided view of the clay that won’t necessarily give you the best results.

The one-sided method is great for making a variety of different pieces such as pots, jars, vases, etc. It works both with new and seasoned artists and offers a truly creative opportunity to use your imagination.

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