Are Your Feet Falling Off?

This is a common frustration for potters. You add feet to your platters or other pieces, but one or more of the feet fall off during drying or firing. But there are some easy solutions to prevent this.

Part 1: Attaching

The first step is to attach the feet as securely as possible. We covered that in an earlier tip that you might want to review.

Tip #2: Attaching Clay Parts

Part 2: Drying

Slow drying helps keep the feet attached. This is usually done by wrapping with plastic. Make sure you get the plastic completely under the piece including all the feet. In fact, it is best if you have two layers of thin plastic beneath the piece. This way, when the piece shrinks as it dries, the feet are able to move with the piece. If the feet are sitting on a surface where they cannot slide easily, they are likely to pop off as the piece dries.

If the feet are of unequal wetness as the piece, or if both pieces are on the dry side, wrap wet newspaper around the joint before wrapping in plastic. This causes the moisture levels throughout the piece to even out, resulting in less cracking.

Another way to keep the feet attached as the piece dries is to use a clay disc. When you make your original piece, make an extra disc of clay large enough that all the feet can fit on it. Keep the piece on top of the disc throughout the drying process. This again allows the feet to move with the piece as it shrinks. Make sure you use the same clay for the disc as the piece.

Part 3: Firing

When you fire the piece (bisque and glaze), again place the piece on top of the disc. They will shrink together during firing, reducing the stress on the feet, and preventing them from popping of. This works great!

Finally, glazing the joint where the foot attaches to the piece increases the strength of the joint. So it is a good idea to glaze partially down the foot.

If your foot has fallen off during or after bisque firing, you can sometimes attach it with glaze, then fire. The problem is that if there is much weight on the foot, it is likely to topple when the glaze melts (prior to the glaze cooling and hardening.) But sometimes this works, depending on the form.

copyright 2002, Cindi Anderson, www.bigceramicstore.com
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