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Repairing Crack Pots - Magic Water

Earlier this month I wrote an article discussing steps a potter can take while creating a pot to avoid cracking.  The suggestions from other potters were great and should be helpful, thanks.  The thing is, while making pots you can have many opportunities for cracks to appear.  Every time we attach something to a pot we risk a place for a crack to develop.  This means every handle, tea pot spout, knob, every seam on a hand built piece is likely to crack.  It's enough to make you want to give up pottery and take up weaving (sound familier Tracey)!

Many potters will use Lana Wilson's Magic Water to help two pieces of clay stick together better.  Here's the recipe:

1 gallon water
3 tablespoons liquid sodium silicate
1 1/2 teaspoons soda ash 

It works really well and many potters swear by it.  But what do you do if the crack has formed after the attachment is made or on someplace that isn't an attachment, like the bottom of a platter.  Sometimes if you've put a lot of work into a piece you don't want to throw it back in the recycle bucket just because it dried unevenly and developed a little crack.

Horse Hair Decorated Pottery by Lori Buff
It's Horse Hair, It's Not Really Cracked

You can go buy mending fluids that do work pretty well, or you can make something right now.  I take a little bit of slip from the clay I've used to make the piece, add a drop of vinegar (it's a deflocculant) and a little bit of very shredded paper.  While at Mudfire I can find plenty of paper dust hiding in the corners of the paper towel dispensers, at home I shred a square of toilet paper.  I mix these together really well then brush into the crack.  The mend may need to be lightly sanded (outside wearing a mask) and reworked a time or two.

This mixture has worked on greenware and bisqued pieces.  A word of warning, it does not work every time on every crack but it doesn't hurt to try.

Do you have a favoriate mending technique?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. I used the slip and vinegar and no paper and it worked but the seam could be seen on a piece that only had underglaze, perhaps a piece with glaze would have been concealed.

    1. Yes Linda, that does happen sometimes depending on things like how well the crack was filled and sanded. Sometimes glaze will cover a small flaw, sometimes underglaze actually fills it in better. It's all a learning experience.

  2. Opps, I forgot to mention that you should check out for more potter's doings.

  3. I use one part Karo; one part vinegar; and some toilet paper shredded and dissolved in the mix. I then add dry, ground clay of the body I am using. to the consistency I want. I keep it fairly liquid if I'm attaching too dry more of a paste if I'm repairing a crack.

    There's more info about this a Ceramics Arts Daily on the forums.

    1. I've never tired the Karo syrup trick. I'm told as the sugar dries it crystalizes and creates a bond. I've always worried that it would attract ants.

  4. My method usual involves the slop bucket! Though occasionally I will keep a piece if the crack is minor and I think that glaze will fill it in.

    1. Yes Michèle, lots of them should, and do end up there.

  5. deflocculent always makes me think FLATULENT for some reason ;)


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