How to Keep Your Hands Dry So Your Clay Won’t Slide Off the Pottery Wheel?

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While pottery making, your hands serve as the pillar for the entire process. From choosing the right kind of clay for your project to throwing it onto the wheel, centering, shaping, molding, and carving it, your hands do it all without getting tired.


The best of your projects reveals the mastery of your hands. Whether it is building the wall of your pottery or applying glaze before the final-firing, your hands play the most crucial role every time.


Just as the final outcome of your pottery depends on the skills of your hands, at the same time, the nature and condition of your palm play an important role in determining your performance in making the pot. Your hands with normal temperature and natural moisture balance are ideal for bringing the best projects out of the clay.


Whether your hands are too sweaty or very dry, in both cases, it is going to affect your performance. If your hands get too sweaty, it will cause problems while throwing or centering the clay on your pottery wheel. And if it’s too dry, it will cause difficulty in molding and shaping your clay. So, are you thinking of how to keep your hands appropriately dry? Well, in this article, we will be discussing how you can keep your hands optimally dry. However, before opting for the solutions, let’s have a quick look at the problems first:


How your hand’s condition affects the clay?

In most cases, you can’t reach the expected results because the faulty moisture balance in your palm restricts you in applying your skill. That’s why no matter how much you spend on your clay or the wheel, you can never end up with satisfying results.



Following are listed some of the factors related to your hand that are responsible for sliding off your clay from the pottery wheel:

Hands’ condition


Sweaty or wet hands If your hands are sweaty or wet, the moisture will make the clay dough too malleable and slippery. It will create problems like sliding off from the pottery wheel and poor adhesiveness, which is enough to make you struggle with your clay.
Warm hands If your hands get heated up due to the friction generation while working with your clay, it is going to pass the heat to the clay, making it soft. It is not only going to make throwing and centering difficult but also creates problems with shaping and wall building of your pot.


How can you beat these problems?

You can easily avoid the problem of maintaining dry hands throughout the entire process if you follow a few simple techniques. Here’s how you can do it.



  • Wipe your hand with dry clothes or sponge:

While working with clay, your hands can get moist or heat due to the weather or friction, respectively. All you need to do is keep a damp cloth or wet sponge along with you. Whenever your hands get moist, take the cloth or sponge and wipe your both hands thoroughly with moderate pressure, so that the moisture along with dirt gets removed from your hands easily. And it also ensures that your clay doesn’t slide off the potter’s wheel.


  • Keep a bucket full of water along with you:

Wiping for several times might be frustrating or time-taking for you. So, another simpler way is to keep a bucket full of water with you. Whenever you have a sticky or soggy feeling in your palm, dip your hands in the bucket-filled water. Rub them for a few seconds and get rid of the oily and sticky feeling. Finish it up with rubbing your hands on a dry cloth or a towel.


  • Allow a towel to accompany you:

An old piece of towel can be your best friend in such situations. Whether you dip your hands inside a bucket of water or wipe it with a damp cloth, you will need to dry them properly by rubbing your hands against a towel. If you want to avoid the water dripping and wiping process quite frequently, then gently clean your hands with the towel after every 5-6 minutes. In this way, the dryness of your hand can be maintained for a long time.


  • Keep a bowl of ice along with you:

Most of the time, moisture forms in your hands due to excessive heat generation. If your hands are producing too much heat, it will cause your palms to start sweating and make the clay soft and sticky, which will make your job a complete mess. For that reason, it is essential to keep your hands cold throughout the time you are working with your clay to maintain dryness.


For doing so, you’ll be needing a bowl full of ice. Just dip your hands in the ice and keep them submerged for a few seconds; after that, pat dry your palms with a towel. In this way, the excessive heat of your hands will get reduced, facilitating dryness, and preventing the clay from sliding off the wheel.


  • Choose a cool place for your pottery work:

If the room that you have chosen for your work is too hot or humid, it will eventually make you feel warm and cause perspiration. And, it will be difficult for you to work with perspiring hands. So, always consider choosing a workplace with a cooler temperature, or you can even turn on the AC or fan to keep the room cool. It will reduce the chances of your hands to become hot and sweaty, thereby retaining dryness in your hands.


What to do with the clay that gets stickier with your sweaty hands?

Following the tips mentioned above are undoubtedly going to retain the dryness in your hands while keeping the right moisture balance. But what if your clay has already become soft due to sweaty hands? Will you throw it?



Well, don’t throw away the sticky clay. Keep it aside in a normal atmosphere for some time to get dried up quickly. Also, you can put it on a plaster slab, which will absorb the extra moisture present in the clay while leaving it completely dry. Meanwhile, by following any of the techniques mentioned above, you can dry your palms.


You can pick Amaco 45015Y Moist Earthenware Modeling Clay as it doesn’t get much sticky with the sweat from your palms and is easy to mold. Also, by using this clay, it can be averted from getting slid off the pottery wheel.



So, here are some of the best tips to prevent your hands from getting excessively sweaty or too dry and keep you unstoppable while creating a masterpiece. If you are going for throwing and centering of your clay, then keep your hands always dry to avoid the clay from sliding off the pottery wheel. We hope that the tips mentioned above will become handy to solve your problem with sweaty hands and let you carve out beautiful artworks.

Happy sculpting!

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