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PAPER CLAY

Richard Willis

A combination of paper and clay whereby the paper serves to reinforce the clay during forming and drying; and, when fired (and the paper is burned away) the space once occupied by the paper is left empty and thereby contributes to an overall reduced product weight.
Techniques to accomplish a mass serviceable for both handling and firing are numerous and vary greatly, but they can be usually be sorted to two groups, as indicated by the form of the paper used to combine with the clay: “shredded” paper or “sheeted” paper – as in paper “bits” or“blankets”, or however one might speak of parts and wholes.
Shredded paper is normally stirred into vats of clay slurry, poured out in a lumpy yogurt sort of consistency onto a water-absorbing surface, and left until dry enough to be wedged into rolls or balls. If the paper has been shredded into very small pieces the clay can be fast-wheel-thrown; if not, forming must be done on a slow wheel turning or by other “handbuilding” methods. The simplest way of shredding paper to very small pieces is to burn it sufficiently that when crumpled it falls apa rt – to burn it up to the point where it is still visibly and tactily paper and not yet purely ash. Origins in methods and purposes of paper-clay modeling can of course be traced to uses of ash, manure, and a host of other “inclusives” in traditions of ceramics.
Sheeted paper is normally coated with clay slurry, and left to dry until manageable – as determined by whether ones wants to do pottery, sculpture, brick, or whatever. Sheets of cloth, among other flexible sorts of materials, can be used in the same manner – “burlap” being among the favorites. Care must be taken during firings when synthetics are used lest their toxic fumes be breathed. The same goes for papers with lots of ink and chemical treatments, such as newspapers, magazine s, and so forth.

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XML for Import into INSIGHT

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