Instant Damp Cabinets: An Easy Way to Dry Your Pottery Slowly

Keep your work wet and workable with a damp cabinet!

Inverting plastic buckets over your work is a great way to create instant damp boxes. Not only are they very effective at slowing or halting drying, they also protect your work while it dries.

Over the years we have received many inquiries on damp cabinets or damp boxes. Some had never used a damp cabinet and wondered where they could get one. Well, one probably doesn’t have to look very far. Chances are you already have the materials to make one right in your studio. Michael Bossin of Sharon, Massachusetts, offers this simple suggestion for a damp box. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

In our studio, we use inverted plastic buckets to cover works in process. The buckets easily hold work in “suspended animation” for several weeks at a time. For slow drying, a small hole or two will provide a controlled environment. You can even add moisture by placing a small dish of water under the bucket next to your piece. The buckets don’t touch the work, they offer protection and cost nothing (or very little). If you use them with a bat underneath, you can stack them. Use an empty cottage cheese container for a mug or a garbage can for a sculpture; they all work great.

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If you’re looking for a larger damp cabinet, check out Annie Chrietzberg’s tip:
In our classroom, we have a set of shelves we’ve made into a damp cabinet. Wrapping plastic around simple forms works to retard drying, but a piece with handles and/or spouts can be damaged. We’ve taken a shelving unit and completely enclosed it with a cheap plastic drop cloth. We left an extra amount on both sides for the “door,” which we close with clothes pins. If we need a damper atmosphere, we can place a bowl of water or wet sponges in the cabinet, or spray the plastic down, rather than spraying the pieces. The cabinet is designated for composite and sculptural pieces only, and works like a charm!

Want more awesome tips? Then check out this tip about safely packing your work, or read this article about drying your work on a ware rack.

**First published in 2009
  • Denise S.

    Thank you for generously sharing your knowledge and experience! This has helped me so much!
    God Bless!!!

  • Gabe G.

    You can use wood spacers to lift them a bit and start the drying process slowly, prior to removing them completely prior to the end. Also plastic pale liners are a cheap alternative to buckets for tall forms. I use this system in my studio and find it very handy. It is only difficult to find plastic tubs for large bowls at a decent price: will keep looking!

  • Françoise L.

    Great ideas, thank you so much for sharing them.

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