What is the clay preparation for ceramics? How has it been done traditionally? Are there different techniques? If a few days ago we explained the different types of clay we can find, today we focus on the steps prior to molding. So, if you also look for answers to all these questions, do not miss this post. We started;)

The clay preparation: the traditional technic

Before molding the clay, it is necessary to mix carefully the paste. We must pay special attention to eliminate possible air pockets and distribute mud particles well. If we follow the traditional, artisanal technique, the kneading of the clay will be done by hand. Many ceramicists prefer this system since it allows to work with small amounts of clay and to control the texture and density. On the other hand, a mechanical mixer is faster, although we will have to work with larger quantities. In any case, if we are going to have mud, we can keep it by wrapping it in a vacuum bag or in a closed container.

A trick to knead easily the clay is that the clay must be a little softer than necessary. If you work with a hard mixture, it is better to chop it and insert more tender pieces. In this way, the preparation of the clay will be more comfortable and effective. You can add a little watero, thus it will soften more quickly. Remember that the purpose of kneading is to make the dough homogeneous.

clay preparation traditional technical

The type of kneading: classic or Japanese?

From here, we find two types of kneading: basic and Japanese. The first is to spread the clay on a hard, firm and absorbent surface to prevent it from adhering. To do this, we can place on a table a canvas or a thin cloth, stretched and held to prevent wrinkles. We knead the mud stretching it and folding on itself. It is convenient to make the mud protrude a little from the table and cut it. This piece is placed on the dough and mixed again. We can repeat the process as many times as necessary until we achieve a homogeneous mass. Make sure there is no air left between the layers.

On the other hand, Japanese kneading requires more experience, but it is the one that allows better elimination of air pockets. To do it correctly, we will need to work on a porous surface. We squeeze the dough with the wrist and palm of the hands to mix the mud well. Repeat the process, but now with one hand we raise the mud and turn it a quarter of a turn towards the interior of the mixture. This process must be repeated at least ten times until a spiral mass is obtained. We continue kneading at a uniform rate and a continuous movement, until it is homogeneous. To make sure, we can cut the mud preparation in half and see if there is any air bubble left.

Ceramic type handmade clay

Use different muds in a mixture

Podemos utilizar diferentes tipos de barro para alterar el color o jugar con la calidad. Esto también nos permite una mezcla más maleable y fácil de amasar, hacerlo más resistente (añadiendo chamota) o conseguir un efecto marmoleado.

Marbling is a very used finish since it allows us to obtain original and elegant pieces. To do this, we must make a sandwich with layers of different types of clay, one on top of the other. When we have enough, we must press them firmly, kneading the mud until we achieve the desired consistency. The more kneaded, the more subtle the effect of marbling on the piece will be.

marbling technique

What do you think? Would you be able to follow this steps for the clay preparation prepare ?

See you in the next post :)