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How to keep clay soft between lessons

Discussion in 'Art and design' started by coalwoman57, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. It is an absolute pain, I agree.
    Groups on boards is my favoured method, as long as it is well wrapped. And I usually stuff a load of wet paper towels in there somewhere.
    Glad that you are doing claywork though. Seems to be dying out in many schools round my way.
  2. Try giving each student a damp ( not wet) paper towel, wrap or insert them into the object, then individually wrap each object (or a pair together) with a carrier bag and then put them on a big board or tray. Although it takes time, I've found that it works well for a week, kept in the dark/cold and if you collect different coloured bags, even the crackers that don't remember to write their names will remember a brightly coloured bag! BTW best to demonstrate how to put the 'pot' into the base of the carrier and twist the top and sit the clay on the 'tail' end of the bag. This avoids the need for ties and it looks neat and is quite air-tight. If you explain all the reasons they can generally do this by Year 6 by themselves. There is also a potters frined called a damp cupboard, probably available form Pottery Crafts. We used them at college where I studied ceramics; they have a tray of water in the base and although they smell foisty, keep even unwrapped pots overnight.
    Don't even <u>try</u> to keep clay in this way over a holiday. Something always goes mouldy or drops off.
    Spraying just wets the outside, don't bother except as last resort over lunchtime.
    All of the above is educational for the children. In understanding the changing properties of the material and need for responsible handing they gain respect for those potters who succeeded. Don't see it as a failure if it goes wrong, adverse conditions to blame! Art teachers note, this doesn't happen to Maths books, we walk a tough road.
  3. The clay you use makes a big difference too ... for example NewClay (with nylon to create a strong air-dried finish) is great for drying out and going hard!
    What're you making, what size are the pieces, would they fit in a tupperware or biscuit tin (with a bit of damp sponge in the tub not touching the clay).
  4. EssieP

    EssieP New commenter

    Wet paper towels/cloths can dry out & start absorbing water from clay- so it can be counter productive.
    I'd wrap each piece in a plastic bag. Then put as many wrapped pieces into an old clay bag as will fit, then seal it with a tie-wire.
    If they're to be left for a long time, or somewhere warm/dry, then put a wet sponge inside the clay-bag. If there are any delicate pieces, with thin parts, that part could be wrapped in cling-film before the first plastic.
    You may even need to spray into the clay bag every so often.
    Finally, it doesn't really matter if the clay goes moldy, it can be wiped with a sponge and anyway, it's going in a kiln isn't it?

  5. I use zip lock bags. Both small and large. I double check that the bag are fully closed as they go onto my trolleys. These are used for precut clay and the student's work. I have my TA cut up cubes that are stored in the ziplock bags. The bags themselves are reused multiple times.
  6. darkness

    darkness New commenter

    Wet paper often dries it all out fast, not as fast as leaving the clay to fend for itself, but still, it doesn't do much.

    Usually I put the work on boards and some big plastic cover with a pot of water inside. get a little greenhouse effect going. Slap bang in the window too. Art rooms are notorious for having large windows. Ahh the days of doing clay work.
  7. At the end of each session I get each student to spray their work liberally with water using a cheap plant spray bottle. We then use a damp J-Cloth to wrap the work and cover with plastic. This seems to work well and keep the clay damp enough between sessions. You can also get the students to spray the work a little when it is unwrapped at the beginning of the next session. I don't know what type of clay you use - we use 'Newclay' air drying clay which is pretty good. We have an extremely tight budget for clay work and find this method works well, you can get the plant sprays and rolls of J-Cloth from places like Poundland and the 99p Store!.
  8. Hiya
    We use plant propagators in our place. A few sheets of damp newspaper in the bottom, get the kids to put their work inside, a few sqirts of water for good measure, whack the lid on and seal with masking tape if you fancy. This has always worked really well and I can generally get three weeks (at a push four) out of the clay.

  9. <font size="-1">Never use the
    tools you use for clay for food ever again. This includes trays, knives,
    etc. It might be a good idea to mark these tools in some way so that
    they are not used with food by mistake.

  10. teega

    teega New commenter

    I recycle wrappers that come off dry cleaning and have even been known to go in and beg a few. They are soft and clear on one side which helps the Yr 7s - 11s identify theirs more easily. I generally sit the pieces inside the bag and wrap and twist ( having sealed the hanger hole with masking tape). This has worked with large scale GCSE sculptures and Year 7 Claes Oldenberg instellation pieces - both worked over 5 weeks - half term included. I dream of a damp cupboard!

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