Part 6 – The Paper-Thin Challenge

This series was a challenge I gave myself to see how thin I could make the clay before it cracked. I was amazed at how elastic porcelain could be when worked at a certain speed. I wish I could describe it, but it has to be played with to experience it. At one point, it simply dries out and cracks. The trick is to stop about one millimeter before that thickness and cover it gently to dry very slowly. I decided to experiment with other clays to see what I could do with them… to date, porcelain allows me to get the thinnest.

The heavily grogged clays seem to require to be thicker than the porcelain. I was able to get the porcelain, white or black to a thinness of about 2 millimeters.

The key factor for me was in the slow drying time combined with balancing the moisture evaporation. I had to cover them with paper and plastic and replace the paper every few days. The drying time took weeks at first until I got a better hang of how much paper to put on top to absorb the moisture trapped under the plastic.

I also learned how to master the slab making method I call slap-drag. Where I throw the clay at my canvas covered worktable, only I stretch my arms out and throw it back to myself. Then rotating the clay between throws to achieve circles of very uniformly thin clay.

It’s a great challenge with amazing results!

Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see a few of my results. Well, most of the ones I was able to take pictures when they came out of the kiln. I lost track of the ones that got sold right out of the kiln.

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