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How to Dry Pottery and Clay Objects

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General Guidelines for Drying Pottery and Clay Objects
Pottery drying on shelves, showing placement for good air circulation.

Pottery drying on shelves, showing placement for good air circulation.

Photo © 2009 Beth E Peterson

Drying the pottery and clay objects we make is an important step in getting it ready to be fired. There are two overriding considerations. 1) Clay objects, especially those with protuberances or uneven thickness (e.g. handles) need to be dried evenly. 2) All clay should be bone dry before being loaded into the kiln for bisquing.

General Guidelines:

  • Place pots on shelves so that air can freely circulate around each piece.
  • Do not force-dry pottery. Using heaters or hot air blowers like hair driers can cause severe cracking, especially when the clay is already leather-hard or drier.
  • Slow, even drying is best. If pieces are drying too quickly, cover them loosely with plastic. If there is high humidity, cover the piece with newspaper, then plastic. (The newspaper will absorb any condensation.)
  • Do not attempt to dry an object beyond leather-hard without removing any inflexible armatures. An armature that cannot be compressed easily enough will cause the clay to crack.
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