Pottery humour there. I have been making more time for the shed during the week and I try to do all my prep work for the week on Sunday or Monday. There will be lots of pigs and cats and sheep made this week and that means I need lots of 2 ounce balls of clay. Which is a bit of a chore.
I make as many balls as I can in an hour. I time myself. Which is quite a lot. But before I make balls I have to knead my clay. This is something I never used to do. Mostly because I am self taught and it was never really hammered home to me how necessary it is even if you aren't throwing. It makes the clay so much more workable and cooperative!
Clay is basically dirt suspended in water. When you get it out of the bag or the recycle box all of the dirt is all confused. The particles point every which way.
Most people have heard of wedging clay. This is done to remove air pockets or to combine two different types of clay. But it still leaves the clay particles all disorganized.
Kneading your clay organizes all of the particles to point in one direction and the clay is more likely to do want you want. Also it is less likely to warp as it dries.
This is what kneading clay looks like. I do the Ram's Horn method. You may have also seen the Conch Shell method. Simon Leach does it that way. I was taught the Ram's Horn when we did throwing in a pottery class I took years ago. But the instructor never mentioned that you need to ALWAYS knead your clay. For everything! Not just throwing.
I started doing this for my hand building about a year ago because I was fed up with getting clay out of the bag that didn't work and I couldn't figure out why. So... good old Google!
It gets all the particles to spiral around and all go in the same direction you see. And air between the layers, if there is any, gets squeezed out the end.
It is very therapeutic. Sorry about the picture quailty. I snapped this with my phone in my shed after work. The light isn't great in there when it is dark outside.