Of working with clay

Working with clay techniques


3D techniques used for creating sculpture, craft or 3D design objects are categorised as additive and subtractive. Additive techniques are where you attach pieces together, such as when modelling or building. Subtractive are when you take material away, such as carving.

Common materials include clay, plaster, wood, wire, and paper and card.

Clay

Clay is a type of soil that can be shaped when wet. Techniques include:

  • throwing onto a potters wheel, where the clay is shaped by hand while being turned in circles
  • slab work, where pieces of clay are rolled flat, then formed
  • coiling, where clay is rolled into long, smooth snakes which are joined together in layers to build up a form
  • slip casting, where watery clay is used to line or coat something
  • carving, where tools are used to cut out shapes

Tools can be used to add texture or decoration before the clay is fired. Clay needs to be fired in a kiln to make it stronger.

Always photograph your work before it is fired in the kiln.

Glazes

Red Hot Poker Vase (2001) by Kate Malone. Image courtesy of and © Adrian Sassoon, London.

After the first firing, clay can be decorated with glazes to make it non-porous and stronger. Glazes are often used to add colour and make the surface shiny.

Glazes sometimes go wrong, so it's important to experiment to find out how to use them for the effect you want before you glaze your final piece. Keep notes of your experiments, so that if you have interesting result you can re-use it.

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