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Understanding Pottery is a series in production by Washington Street Studios. The video series is a digital textbook that will take you through the entire ceramic process from the raw material through the finished ceramic pieces. There are five sections and twenty-six chapters planned in the series and they are:

Section I: The Pottery Making Sequence

Chapter 1: What is Clay?

Chapter 2: Clay Properties and Drying

Chapter 3: Bisque Firing

Chapter 4: Tips for Successful Glazing

Chapter 5: Pyrometric Cones

Chapter 6: Glaze Firing

Section II: Use of Raw Materials

Chapter 7: Chemistry for Potters

Chapter 8: Glaze Chemistry

Chapter 9: Oxides, Washes, Underglazes and Stains

Chapter 10: Geology for Potters

Chapter 11: Use of Local Materials

Section III: Kilns and Firings

Chapter 12: Atmospheric Firings

Chapter 13: Wood-Fired Kilns

Chapter 14: Gas-Fired Kilns

Chapter 15: Electric Kilns

Chapter 16: Raku Kilns

Section IV: Solving Problems

Chapter 17: Kiln Performance Problems

Chapter 18: Clay Body Defects

Chapter 19: Glaze Defects

Section V: Practical Applications

Chapter 20: Pottery Myths, Errors and Misconceptions

Chapter 21: Thixotropy, Quartz Inversions and Other Pottery Mysteries

Chapter 22: Pottery and Physics

Chapter 23: Pottery Figurin’ (Math)

Chapter 24: Personal Safety with Pottery

Chapter 25: Critiquing Your Own Pottery: Design Principles You Can Use

Chapter 26: Tips for Buying Used Pottery Equipment


This product is an edited transcript of Chapter 1: What is Clay?

Understanding Pottery, Chapter 2: Clay Properties and Drying - Transcript

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  • This document was created by and is owned by Washington Street Studios. Distribution and reproduction of this document is prohibited without written consent from Washington Street Studios, Inc.

  • Good morning. Welcome to another session of “The Potters’ Round Table,” brought to you by Washington Street Studios. The topic for today is Clay Properties and Drying. We're going to continue the discussion that we had last time. We were talking about “what is clay,” and now we're going to talk about some properties of clay that relate to how it dries.

    Clay, as we said last time, is made up of tiny particles called platelets, which are shaped like little flat disks and are really tiny. As I mentioned, they're about the size of your red-blood cells, and they're arranged in stacks, like little decks of cards. These little decks of cards, I'll call them, are oriented fairly randomly in a mass of clay. This is the model that I showed last time, which I made from beer coasters. (By the way, when you go to a bar, you get one coaster per beer. So this model represents a lot of trips to my local bar - dedication, of course). Anyway, what they show us is that the individual particles of clay are really composed of stacks of these platelets. Then, they're arranged in these little decks of cards fairly randomly in any typical mass of clay.

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