Force Dry

John Benn torching a pot

John Benn firming up a pot during a demo at Shoreline Community College.

Using a heat gun, torch or other method to heat and dry soft clay in order to quickly stiffen it to a desired workability. When throwing or coiling pieces, the softness of the clay may not be able to support continued shaping or the addition of more material; a wait period may be necessary to let the work air-dry until it has firmed up, or the potter may attempt to force-dry the piece somewhat in order to continue working. Force-drying clay can cause stresses in the clay that lead to cracking, and should be done sparingly, evenly and with care.

Beginning potters, bursting with enthusiasm (or trying to meet a deadline at the last minute), may think to take a wet, just-thrown piece from the wheel and dry it until it is leather hard and ready to trim. No. No, really - no; it takes more time and energy than it's worth, leaves the clay stressed and too hard on the outside/too soft on the inside, and if the piece is on a (especially plastic) bat, the bat will get burned and warp. If it's your bat, I don't care. If it's mine . . . The best thing to do is find a well-ventilated area and let the piece sit for at least a few hours, flipping it over when the rim is firm enough so that the bottom can dry out.

An example of John's finished work, wood-fired in his kiln. See more here.

John Benn finished pot

time well spent

closeup view Jack Troy cup, links to Jack Troy artist page

time to explore

link to newest page of ceramic artist links, including link to Scott Parady, pictured

time flies

Link to monthly image blog