Big Ceramic Store Blog

How to Keep Your In-Progress Pieces Soft Leather Hard

You're in the middle of a really special piece when you get a phone call that your daughter's car broke down, two hours away, or you have this really amazing sculpture started, but you're not quite sure on the ending... now what do you do?

This type of thing happens to us all. The question is, how can you keep these pieces soft enough to finish, even if it's at a much later date?

Well lucky for you, it's time to learn how to build a "Damp Box."Just a few simple supplies, and you have a long term solution for a last minute change in plans, or a creative break. Let's start with a way to keep your piece workable for a few hours, and move on to a method I've used to keep pieces for months.

  1. Simply wrap in plastic
    • Set the piece inside a dry cleaning (or similar plastic) bag.
    • Pull the bag up over the top, being careful not to "drag" it up the sides of the piece.
    • Tuck the top inside the opening of your vessel if it has one.
    • This method works for a few hours, but depending on the humidity and air temperature, won't last more than 24 hours or so.
  2. Wrap in damp paper towels, then plastic
    • Dampen enough paper towels to wrap the piece twice.
    • Gently wrap the towels around your piece.
    • Follow the same steps as example one.
    • Check the dampness of the towels daily. If they are starting to dry out, spray with water.
    • This method works for a few days to a week. Make sure to check the towels often, if they dry out too much, so will your piece.
  3. Build a damp box

    • Supply list
      1. Plastic tote, bucket or container with tight fitting lid
      2. Potter's Plaster or Plaster of Paris
      3. Water
      4. Stir stick
      5. Bucket for mixing
    • Supplies
    • Following product directions, mix enough plaster and water in your bucket, to get a 1-2" layer in the bottom of your lidded container. The larger the container, the deeper your plaster should be.
    • Pour plaster in container and let it dry
    • damp 2
    • Now you are ready to use you damp box!
    • damp 4
      • Notes:
        1. Put a small piece of plastic on the bottom of your piece before placing it in the box. This keeps it from picking up small particles of plaster.
        2. If you plan on leaving the piece in there a while, make sure you check the moisture level often. If it seems to be getting dry, add a little water. The plaster will absorb the water and maintain a moist environment.
        3. If you work with larger scale pieces, use a large plastic trash can as your damp box.

Do you have a suggestion for keeping your works in progress soft? Post it in the comments section and tell us all about it.

Do you have an idea or project you'd like to share, or would you like to try your hand at writing an article for us? Shoot us an e-mail at bcscommunity@bigceramicstore.com

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