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Pottery Drying Technique

The other day I posted a picture of some pots drying on a terry cloth towel which prompted a question in the comments about drying the pots.  I thought the answer was better served as a blog post than a short comment.  I figure this may help others understand what’s going on also.

I got the idea after taking a workshop with Lana Wilson and Callanwolde.  Lana is a joy, the workshop was lots of fun.  I highly recommend taking a workshop with her if you get a chance.  In the workshop she told us that she dries her pots on a wire rack from an old refrigerator but with an old t-shirt lining the shelf.  The reason for the t-shirt is that it allowed some air to pass through the wire shelf, and absorbed a little moisture but helped prevent the pot from showing lines from the wires.
Drying Pottery by Future Relics Gallery
Drying Pottery
This made good sense to me.  I have quite the t-shirt collection so it was easy to find one to sacrifice.  The thing is, I didn’t find it to work so well.  I figured since Lana’s work is hand build and mine is thrown mine is softer from a higher moisture content.  So I tried using an old towel and that seemed to do the trick.

Naturally, if the pot is really wet or heavy it will still form lines so those pieces are dried on a solid shelf.  Once the pots are dried enough that they won’t get marks I move them to another wire shelf to finish drying.

How do you dry your pots?

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


  1. I dry on ware boards. Sometime taking them outside to hasten the process. Often I will line the board with plastic and flip them over on their rims to get the bottoms to dry. Jeff and I are often trying to meet deadlines and put pots in the electric kiln before they are dry. We then keep the temp under 200 degrees for a few hours until dry, then bisque as usual.
    I love reading about all the different methods that potters use to get to the same end result. We sure are a creative bunch!

    1. Don’t you just love a sunny day with a gentle breeze and low humidity when you’ve got to get pots to dry?

  2. darn my comment was lost because I wasn't signed in.

    I dry my work on sheetrock (taped on the edges) and place that on open wire racks, I move the piece to a fresh piece of sheetrock (very carefully so as not to warp the piece) till no wet spot shows on the sheet rock.

    I almost never have wet work I fire since I have to fill up the whole kiln myself and always have very dry work but I hold at 200 F for ten minutes just to be sure and I place the piece against my cheek to be sure it's really dry.

    I wonder if the work will get an impression on the bottom from the terry towel?

    I have one of Lana's dvds but would love to take a workshop with her some day

    1. I use sheetrock as a ware board when moving pieces out into the sun or when drying handles for mugs or pitchers but I rarely leave the piece on the sheetrock for long.

      I haven’t gotten a mark from the towels yet.

    2. I may try the towels and see how I like them because I have those rolling metal shelves in the studio now and can put towels on them since I often run out of the sheetrock but I do like the sheet rock to move the work out to the kiln to fire especially for plates, platters and bowls so I don't have to handle them as much, less chance of knocking them against something.

  3. After my pots are trimmed they go on flat plaster bats and loosely covered overnight. Next day they get flipped and put on a metal rack until bone dry. Larger pieces get a little more TLC. I like the idea of the cloth for the metal rack. It would definitely be more gentle on rims.

    Lucky you getting to take a Lana Wilson workshop. I'll bet that was cool.

    1. That sounds like a good method also, Cindy. Thanks.

  4. I throw and put pots onto boards, and once trimmed, they go either back onto the boards or on a chair or stepladder over the heater in winter or sometimes the back porch in summer and sometimes atop a warm kiln :)

  5. A similar conversation has popped up on FB Claybuddies and I was very surprised at the number of people who bring pots into their kitchen and dry them overnight in their oven. I don't understand why you would want to do that. An electric kiln I am sure does it more efficiently and I really don't want the pottery business creeping into where I cook... it's bad enough that it takes over most everywhere else! How does everyone else feel about drying pots in the oven?

    1. I was surprised too, Michèle, and I agree with you. I suspect those people aren’t making the same volume of pots that you are.

  6. I’m so glad you find it interesting Cheri.

    I suspect that some people don’t know all that is involved in making good quality hand crafted pots and therefore don’t understand the cost. I hope these conversations help them to realize the value of the pot.


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