How to Reduce or Prevent Clay Cracking While Drying

Written by molly thompson
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How to Reduce or Prevent Clay Cracking While Drying
Colleges and community centres often have classes in ceramics and pottery. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Making your own pots, vases and objets d'art from clay takes time and patience, so it is very frustrating to discover your project has cracked during the drying process. Clay shrinks as it dries, causing stresses on the clay projects. Occasionally cracks may arise from poor quality materials or contaminants in the clay. According to John Hesselberth of Frogpond Pottery, the most common problem is uneven drying. Even experienced potters go through this occasionally, but there are steps you can take to minimise the likelihood that cracks will develop in your finished piece.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Warm, dry location for drying pottery
  • Porous surfaces or racks

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  1. 1

    Fire and cool the pottery pieces slowly and evenly. Doing either step too quickly can cause the clay to crack.

  2. 2

    Keep the bottom of pots and vases as dry as possible at all stages during their creation. Use drying racks or porous surfaces such as plywood; avoid placing clay items on plastic or nonporous surfaces during drying.

  3. 3

    Maintain uniform thickness in pottery pieces. Different thicknesses of clay dry at different rates, which can result in cracking when a single clay item is not of uniform thickness. Some shapes, notably corners, may also contribute to uneven drying.

  4. 4

    Dry finished pottery items slowly and at uniform temperatures. Turn pieces over frequently to prevent uneven drying. Ensure air can circulate around all sides of the drying pottery.

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