Mud Pies

In my blog, “Bucket of Mud”, I explained how I made my bucket of mud. First, I gathered chunks of bone dry Navajo Wheel clay into a bucket. Then, I added water, mixed, and repeated. After my bucket was full of mud, I wrote my very first blog about it.

Since then, I’ve been preparing to throw the clay.  Mud gets messy. I scooped up a creamy, chunky glob of it and plopped in onto a bat. Thwack! Thwack! Mud pies!

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Then, I started the hair scavenger hunt.  Hair seems to be able to teleport directly into mud and it’s strong enough to slice through wet clay.  Pulling the smooth strands from the clay was a bit challenging, but not as challenging as getting the hair off of my sticky, muddy fingers without getting mud everywhere. Next thing you know, I had several bats covered in mud pies and two hands caked in mud.

I let the mud pies dry out a bit. Then I wedged them.  Wedging is like kneading dough.  Wedging makes the clay’s texture smooth and consistent.  It also gets the air bubbles out of the clay.  There are two wedging techniques, table wedging and spiral wedging.

I learned how to table wedge before I learned how to spiral wedge.  To table wedge, take a lump of clay and smack it down onto a table.  Slice it in half, flip the top half over, and smack it down onto the other half.  Slice it up.  Flip it.  Smack it down. I use the table wedging technique when I want to quickly prepare a lot of clay for hand building or sculpting.

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I use the spiral wedging technique to prepare clay for being thrown on the wheel.  To spiral wedge, smash a lump of clay down and forward onto a table.  Roll the front of the lump of clay back over the back of the lump.  Roll it back.  Smash it forward.  Roll it back.  Smash it forward.  There’s a rhythm to it.

My lumps of clay come out in conch shell like cones.  The clay particles align in a spiral up through the cones.  The particles will also flow in this direction while being thrown.  Particle alignment strengthens the structure of the clay.  After smoothing out the lumps into cones, the clay is ready to be thrown.

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