How to Join Clay Slabs Tutorial for Stunning Results

In this tutorial on clay slab building, Lisa Naples shows how to make a level cut and create a solid wall by compressing two slabs together. She emphasizes the importance of compression in clay building and gives tips on how to pick up and transfer slabs without warping them. Lisa Naples also demonstrates how to make a foot for the pot and reinforce the joint between the wall and the floor with a coil. Along the way, she shares her philosophy on creative endeavor, encouraging play, process, and practice. This tutorial provides a comprehensive guide for those interested in slab building and clay pottery, and the artist’s tips and tricks make it accessible and engaging for all skill levels.

I use a lot of the same techniques Lisa is demonstrating in this video. I can say her techniques really work and her explanation is superb. She clearly explains many very good tips and techniques from adding slip, or not, and to how to pick up a large clay slab.

Key points from the video on how to join clay slabs

  1. Slab building is a clay technique that produces minimal waste
  2. Cutting slabs accurately is important for successful slab building
  3. Compression is important in joining slabs together
  4. The Naugahyde vinyl is recommended for supporting slabs during construction – slide under your clay
  5. Soft clay does not require slipping and scoring, but compression is still necessary for successful joins
  6. The three Ps (play, process, practice) are important for creative endeavors
  7. Reinforcing the joint between the floor and wall of a slab-built pot with a coil is necessary
  8. Supporting the outside of the wall when pressing up into the wall is important to prevent warping

As Lisa demonstrates in the video soft clay is already quite moist, and the particles are more likely to stick together without the need for additional slip or score. However, compression is still necessary for successful joins because clay works well under compression and not tension.

Based on my experience I have found that when two slabs of soft clay are joined, it is important to press them together firmly to compress and spread out the particles. This creates a strong, continuous slab that will hold up during firing and use. Additionally, soft clay can be quite delicate, so using compression rather than pulling or stretching the clay helps to avoid warping or distorting the final shape of the piece. I agree 100%. Another very important tip is to watch carefully how Lisa joins the two pieces of clay and the technique she uses with her fingers to compress the clay!

Another technique I use just like Lisa is when I’m building a slab-built pot, or whatever, I don’t always use slipping and scoring. Instead, I rely on compression to make successful joins. Clay works really well under compression and not so well under tension. So, when I’m putting two pieces together, I make sure to compress them well. I don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that fast equals better, so I take my time and focus on compressing the clay. However your clay must contain the right amount of water, not too dry!

Also, I do reinforce the joint between the floor and the wall of the pot with a coil. To do this, I take a nice soft piece of clay and press it down into the floor, making sure to get it attached into the joint. Then, I smooth the entire coil towards the center of the pot and press up into the wall while supporting the outside of the wall to prevent warping. This step is important to ensure that the joint between the floor and the wall is strong and secure.

Another trick which Lisa did not show in the video is when making your coil start with both hands in the middle of the coil and as your roll move your hands out toward the ends. This gives you a nice even round coil.

Joining clay slabs is an essential technique in pottery making, allowing you to create a variety of forms and shapes. This tutorial will guide you through the process of joining dry pieces of clay together to create a larger form. To start, you will need multiple pieces of clay that have been cut into the desired shape and thickness. Using a slump or hump mold can be helpful in achieving consistent forms and shapes.

There are several forming methods you can use to join clay slabs, including scoring and slipping. At the leather-hard stage, you can attach smaller pieces to larger forms using this method. To do this, score the smooth side of the clay with a tool such as a fork, and then apply slip, which is a mixture of clay and water. Press the scored piece firmly onto the larger form, ensuring a strong bond.

For larger forms, slab rollers can be used to create the desired thickness and shape of the clay slabs. Once the slabs are rolled out, they can be joined together using the scoring and slipping method, or by using clay coils to create a stronger bond.

Joining clay slabs is a great project for creating keepsake boxes, vases, and other decorative items. To add texture and visual interest, you can incorporate paper fibers or other materials into the clay before rolling it out.

Overall, joining clay slabs is a versatile and essential technique in pottery making that allows for the creation of a wide range of forms and shapes. By using the proper forming methods and ensuring a strong bond, you can create beautiful and functional pieces that will last for years to come.

FAQ section for how to join clay slabs

Q: What materials do I need for joining clay slabs?

A: You will need clay, a rolling pin, a yardstick, a cutting tool, water, and a rubber rib.

Q: Do I need to slip and score the clay slabs when joining them together?

A: No, slipping and scoring is not necessary if the clay is soft enough. Instead, compression is crucial to ensure successful joins.

Q: Can I use the small scraps of clay that come off during the cutting process?

A: Yes, you can dip them in water and pile them up to be re-wedged and reused. Unlike throwing, slab building has very little waste.

Q: How do I ensure a level cut of a straight line in my clay slab?

A: Use a yardstick and make a mark at the desired length on both the left and right sides. Connect the marks to make a line parallel to the edge of your table. Cut along the line using a cutting tool.

Q: What is the purpose of reinforcing the joint between the floor and wall of a slab-built pot with a coil?

A: The coil helps to strengthen the joint and prevent cracking during firing. Clay works well under compression and not under tension, so compressing the coil into the joint is essential.

Q: What type of tool should I use to compress the coil into the joint?

A: Use your fingers and a rubber rib to compress the coil into the joint while supporting the outside of the wall to prevent warping.

Q: Is slipping necessary when attaching the bottom slab to the wall of a pot?

A: It is not necessary, but some people prefer to score the surface to give it a better chance of holding together. Adding slip is not recommended as it can add material and mess up the joint.

Q: How can I ensure that the pot’s foot is visible when placed on a table?

A: Cut the bottom slab slightly larger than the opening of the pot and scratch it up for better adherence. Use your fingers to compress it in place and add a coil to reinforce the joint between the floor and wall.

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