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Drying Pots

People always ask me how long it takes a pot to dry. Answer "too long if you're in a hurry or too fast if you can't get back to the piece quickly."

The real answer is still dependent on a lot of factors like how much water was used in making the piece, was the slip ribbed off of it or not, the humidity level in the studio, thickness of clay, etc.  Sometimes we can speed up the drying process by putting the pot in the hot sun or a dying cabinet but that can cause cracking.  Sometimes we want to slow down the drying process to help prevent cracking and warping, that's where a wet box or plastic are handy.

If a piece has many attachments or has been altered and has seams, or if it's a plate or a tile, it's often a good idea to let it dry slowly, thus evenly.  One way I've learned to do this is to lightly cover the piece in thin plastic like you'd get from a dry cleaner.  If possible you should unwrap the piece once or twice a day and turn over the plastic so the side that was nearest the clay faces out.  This side will have trapped some moisture so by flipping it you gently allow the piece to dry.

Drying ceramic pieces by Lori Buff
Mugs Drying

Quick drying, as I stated earlier, can cause cracking due to uneven drying.  Clay shrinks as it drys so if it drys very unevenly it can pull itself appart.  Nobody likes that.  Making the piece thin, using less water, and cleaning off any excess slip can help a pot dry quicker but even drying is still very important.  I like to place my pots on a wire shelf to dry, that way they get air from as many sides as possible.  However, I have found that I still sometimes have to place a light piece of plastic on a rim to prevent it from drying out much faster than the bottom of the pot.  When the wire shelves are full I simply stand the pots on their rims and let the foot get the most air.  Of course you need to wait until the rim is dry enough to support the pot, normally this is a little bit before it's dry enough to trim the foot.

No matter how you dry your clay, it's something that needs to be done with patience or the pot will break in the kiln and all your work will be for nothing.

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


  1. I have times of the year where things dry really slow even when left completely uncovered and then other seasons where they seem to dry instantly. I've found that biodegradable bags can be very handy for times when I want things to dry, but they need to be covered as well. They seem to let some of the moisture out, but not too quickly. Thanks for sharing your drying process.

  2. haha, I gave up on being patient LONG ago and select clay that can handle my impatient nature instead ;) as in lots of grog or some damn thing, because a lot of the time I finish it today, dry it overnight and bisque it tomorrow which sounds insanely stupid, but it works for my stuff :)

  3. Gary, that's cool. My porcelain would laugh at me if I tried to do that.
    I'm in super dry Nevada, so I have many stages of drying that I have to babysit.


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