Quick Tips: Plaster and Plastic Storage Bins

Essential Tools for the Clay Studio!

Today we bring you a couple of tips from Ceramic Arts Network readers about two essential items for any clay studio: plaster and plastic storage bins. Plaster is used in the ceramic process for many things: for molds, as throwing bats and for reclaiming clay, to name a few. The two tips below address how plaster poured into plastic storage bins can make the reclaiming process easier and neater, and help you preserve pieces of pots or sculptures that didn’t work out in one project for just the right future project. Thanks to Karen and Carol for submitting these tips! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

Whenever I recycle clay slop on a plaster bat, it seems that I always have more clay than what the bat can hold. So I bought a plastic tub (the kind that fits under the bed, see above image) and poured plaster directly into the bottom half of the tub. Once the plaster has dried out, I can pour the clay slop on top anywhere from to 1 to 3 inches thick on the bat without it going anywhere. An added bonus is that the tub comes with handles (some even have wheels), which makes it easier to move it around. Plus, the tub protects the slab from getting chipped. -Karen Dormaar, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

I attended a class given by Lana Wilson and have been using her method for using plastic pails for keeping your clay projects in workable condition until completion ever since. It has saved me many times including returning leather to workable when necessary. Take any good sealing plastic container like Rubbermaid and put plaster in the bottom approximately one inch in depth. Slowly stir in water till you get a sour cream consistency and the plaster and water are thoroughly mixed. At this point it would be a good idea to hit the sides or lift slightly and drop to release the bubbles. Put the top back on and let it set up. This container will always have some moisture in it and the moisture can be increased by putting in a cup or two of water onto the hardened plaster. Always keep the top on to retain the moisture. Pieces can be made and left in the box until needed then applied to your current work. Lana called it a “keeper box” and she couldn’t have named it better. I now have a few of them in different sizes. I have made pieces that I find interesting, but are not usable with my current project. So I end up putting them in my keeper box and using them months later. -Carol Gleason, Howell, New Jersey.
**First published in 2013.
  • Vivienne K.

    I use an old large slipcase/press mold to reclaim clay. It has quite a depth and I put a piece of old bed sheet at least twice the size of the mold, inside the mold with the other half hanging out. The sheet lets the water in the clay enter the plaster but not allow any plaster into the clay. When the top of the clay is getting dryer, flip the other half of the sheet over the top of the clay. Then grab both top and bottom sheet and flip the clay. leave till you are happy the clay is the consistency you require.

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