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paper clay/snail's answers/book

updated sun 27 jan 02


Susan Schultz on sat 26 jan 02

In response to Snail's observations about paperclay (copied below).
I would like to add a few points.

I would take her observations as just that, observations. Do not be
afraid to try your own experiments, with your own clay.

On point 2, regarding thinness-I make paperclay pieces that are nearly
translucent. I also make pieces that are solid. You have to experiment
with clay and pulp amounts.

Also, point 4, on coils. Not true. I make nearly all of my large
sculptures with paperclay coils and have no problems. Also, I carve and
incise pieces when wet or leatherhard. The secret here is the pulp. If I
to carve, I use commercial paperclay, Tucker's to be specific, which has
less pulp and finer fibers than my homemade.

The joint observation is true. Also, I took a workshop with Rosette Gault
and learned that the weakest joint is leatherhard to leatherhard, the
strongest dry to dry (with paperclay slip).

There is an interesting article in Ceramics Technical, #13 (most recent)
by Anne Lightwood. She surveyed why people use paperclay and
for what, and for everyone stating a use or attribute, another said the
opposite. In fact, she wrote a book called "Paperclay and Other Additives"
which I mail-ordered from Potter's Shop this week. Rosette's book is
a wealth of information too. I'd get the second one. I think Potter's Shop
carries a video, too.

Susan Schultz
Stonington, Ct.

In a message dated 1/25/02 2:14:13 PM Eastern Standard Time,
snail@MINDSPRING.COM writes:

> 1) Don't use more than about 40% paper; it gets weird in
> several ways. (Though it does have its uses that way.)
> 2) Resist the temptation to work thin. Because the green
> strength of paperclay is so great, you may be inclined
> to make less-thick work. Don't do it! When the paper
> burns out, there will actually be less clay than in a
> normal clay body of the same thickness, and it will be
> more fragile.
> 3) Be aware that wood pulp forms wood ash when it burns
> out. Wood ash is a flux. High percentages of fiber can
> actually reduce the firing temperature of your clay.
> 4) It works fine for slab-building and pinched forms. It
> works not too well for coiling. It works very well for
> press-molding and assembly. It works poorly for incised
> decoration and carving.
> 5) Make your joints very strong, with proper score-and-
> slip techniques; the fibers must interlock across the
> joint for it to be strong, since there is less clay
> contacting other clay. This becomes more important with
> higher percentages of paper.
> 6) It will dry very slowly, since the paper will hold
> and retain moisture more than plain clay will. And, with
> high percentages of paper, shrinkage can increase quite
> a bit.
> I found that it didn't give me much advantage with the
> type of work I do, so I only use it occasionally now.
> It can be amazingly useful for some purposes, though.
> -Snail