Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Notes on Consistency

Clay too wet- it coats my hands.

I have been struggling with the consistency of the clay. Mostly, it's too wet, which results in sticky fingers and misshapen bricks. Too dry is also a problem, since that makes it very hard to fill the mold, and leaves deeper creases on the surface. 

A further problem is that clay dries extremely unevenly. I can spread it on a board in the sun, and if I don't look after it every 15 minutes or so, the top develops a crust (too dry) underneath which the clay still retains all of its moisture (too wet).

Different batches require different working methods. For a wetter clay, I pound it into the mold with the side of my hand, because it's the only thing that doesn't immediately stick. With a dry clay, I use a rubber mallet, for more force. During demolding, I have to be very careful with a wet clay, because the brick tends to fold in the middle, so I have to tap harder on the corners to loosen it before letting it slide directly down. With a dry clay, I can knock the mold quite hard on a long edge, which loosens the brick with minimal distortion. 

In sum, it's very hard to be consistent.

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