Working with pottery clay is quite tricky. Sometimes it’s too hard to work with, and at times it’s very sticky to build any shape. So, the clay must be soft and pliable enough to be able to mold it. But too much stickiness can create a lot of mess.
Struggling with your clay’s texture might feel like a hectic job, especially if you are a beginner. But by learning a few hacks and techniques, you can quickly revive your clay from muggy conditions to make it workable again.
So, first of all, you must know about the reasons behind that tampers the firmness of your clay. Understanding the causes makes it easier to prevent it and helps you tackle it smartly without any wastage of clay. So, let’s proceed.
Why Does the Clay Become Stickier?
There is more than one reason that promotes the accumulation of an excessive amount of moisture in your clay, making it too soft and sticky. Here are the causes.
Warm and Humid Ambience:
The weather of the area or room that you have chosen for your pottery work can affect your clay’s condition. Your clay is more likely to become soft if the weather gets sultry because the moisture and humidity content makes the clay to retain a lot of moisture, thereby making it soft and sticky. On the other hand, the high room temperature will cause your clay to melt, which will make it difficult for you to work with the clay.
Also, the temperature of your hands has a great impact on deciding the clay’s texture. While working with a lump of clay, when your hands get continuously rubbed against the clay walls, there are high chances of friction generation. This friction will cause your palm to get heated up, increasing the temperature of your hands. And this heat may get transferred to the clay body and thaw it, making it soft and sticky.
Presence of Excessive Plasticizers:
The presence of plasticizer attributes the clay to softness and flexibility, which is important for tackling the clay while shaping it. But some brands use too many plasticizers in their products that make the clay stick to your hands and makes everything messy and frustrating while creating potteries.
Lack of Cooling:
By now, you must have understood how temperature affects the texture of your clay. Sometimes your clay needs to be cooled to become work-friendly. The warmth present in the clay will make it too soft, thereby creating difficulties for you to work with it. Hence, the lack of proper cooling is another reason that makes your clay muggy.
How to Stiffen the Sticky Clay Again?
Various situations can come up your way while making pottery. But getting frustrated with it is a big NO! Here are some tips to make your pottery job an easier one. Let’s have a look at how you can stiffen your too-sticky pottery clay to make it workable again.
Start with Cooling the Clay
Sometimes placing the clay in the freezer really helps. If you are facing problems with molding your clay because of its stickiness, consider putting the clay inside the freezer for about 10 minutes before you start working with it.
Otherwise, you can keep a bag of ice with you. Whenever you feel that your clay has started to get much softer, put it in the ice bag for some minutes. Cooling controls the excessive warmth present in your clay, thereby making it adequately stiff and firm again.
Find a Cool Workplace
Finding a cold workplace is the best option for both you and your clay to stay cool while working on your pottery project. If your workplace generates a lot of heat, then decrease the temperature by turning on the air conditioner or fan.
Moisturize Your Hands
Most of the time, it’s your hands that keep acting as the villain. If your hands are too rough, they will create more friction and heat, which eventually makes your clay sticky. Also, the heat forms perspiration, which worsens the situation. So, it is essential to apply some moisturizer to your hands before working.
What About Following Some Quirky Way?
To fix such problems of soft and sticky clay, sometimes leaching the clay or making it pass through the pasta machine can help positively. Though the methods are a little bit weird, here’s how you can perform them.
How to do it?
Start with covering the clay with paper to avoid getting in contact with dust. Then place the clay on two pieces of paper and cover it with some dense material on the top. Leave it for about 12-24 hours; your clay will get revived automatically.
Make it pass through the pasta machine
You need to place the clay evenly on two paper pieces. And then allow it to pass through the pasta machine at the thickest setting.
Air-Dry Your Gummy Clay
If you have enough time to finish your project, then you can let the clay air dry. Leave it at room temperature and allow the sticky clay to sit for approximately 1-2 days. The excessive moisture content present in the clay will evaporate in this way.
Mix it Up with Older Clays
Fresh clay tends to have too many plasticizers in it, which makes it harder to mold or shape properly. But this should not be a problem at all if you know the right hack. You can easily solve this issue by mixing your muggy clay with a dough of firm older clay. It will reduce the moisture present in the gooey clay, thereby reducing the stickiness of the clay.
You can use AMACO AMA46318R Air Dry Clay, 25 lbs., White for achieving better and smoother working results with pottery clay, as it has a moderate amount of plasticizers in it, which is ideal for doing several pottery works.
So, always choose the best quality clay to avoid such problems of stickiness. Also, make sure that you are working in a room with having neutral temperature, as excessive warmth or heat is not too friendly for pottery works.
However, if you are facing such a problem, follow the methods as mentioned above. Why throw your clay away, when you can fix it? We hope this article will help you from getting your hands stickier during pottery making.