Working With FiberClays

Sheepdog White Earthenware with Fiber 04

Sheepdog lowfire earthenware with fiber, our version of paper clay! Our fiber doesn't rot, and will fit most commercial glazes. These clays are a Low fire sculptural body that fits commercial glazes when Bisqued to 04. The glazes should be fired to cone 06. It contains 5% fine white sand and our superfine nylon fiber.

Why Fiber Clay?

Mixing fiber into clay gives the clay many new and exciting properties. You can allow the clay to dry out and then make attachments, adding bone dry to bone dry. You can build sculptures that would be impossible with plain clay.

Because these fibers cling to, rather than absorb, water they better promote the movement of the water through the mix.  Fibers such as cellulose or "paper fibers" are actually less desirable because the water they absorb does not move any further; only once the individual fiber has absorbed all the water it can hold does the remaining water move on through the mix. This may be why Nylon has proven to be an acceptable choice for fibered clay; it is slightly absorbent, but not exceptionally so.

 Another point about the cellulose fibers is that they swell when wet. This means as the fibers dry, they will shrink and leave voids in the clay, creating weakness and the potential for cracking. On the other hand, nylon fibers will promote crack resistance and strengthen the mix.

How to work with Fiberclay

If you work in fiber clay and don't change the way you work, you are not taking advantage of the clay. The advantages are that you can build your sculpture in parts, let them dry, as my friend Graham Hay says "Bone Dry”. This means you don't need an armature to build large pieces.

Attachments: Make a slip out of the clay, the easy way is to make a bunch of "potato chips" and let them dry. Then when you add them to water they will dissolve quickly.

To attach dry to dry, slather both sides with slip, roll out a thin rope of clay dip it in the slip, this is the "denture cream" that fills in any gaps. Push the pieces together and hold till you feel it grab!


 

 

You don’t have to fire!

Many people are building sculptures using armatures made of wood or rebar. You can keep adding on to your sculpture until you are happy with the result then finish with Acrylic Paint, Artzee Sealers* or Powertex products* or we have Aleens Fabric Stiffener.

How to fire Fiber Clay

Fiber clay is easy to fire as it is very forgiving, EXCEPT! There will be smoke and bad smells up to 900 degrees F.
I suggest you fire in a well ventilated space, leave the lid propped open a couple inches and leave the bottom peephole open. The idea is to allow the fiber to burn out (oxygen is needed for this). Fire like this until the smoke stops and then close the lid. At some point your pieces will be black, this is normal. The carbon will burn off as it reacts with the oxygen to burn.
 Panicking and turning off the kiln will not help.

Taxidermy Clay self hardening with fiber.

Introducing Taxidermy Clay from New Mexico Clay

Taxidermy Clay is great for models over an armature; sculpt it, even 2 inches thick it will not crack. It will stick to almost anything even glass. Contains a non-toxic waterproof glue. Dries hard, paintable, not-toxic and not water proof.

This clay works great for assembled sculpture, make all the parts and let them dry, all the way, then; paint a slip (made of Taxidermy Clay) on both surfaces to be joined. Roll out a thin coil of Taxidermy Clay (to act as denture cream) Paint all surfaces including the coil press together and hold.  Our fiber doesn't rot.

Taxidermist sculpts the muscles, eye sockets, ear bases out of this clay. Smearing the clay on a foam armature that approximates the animal whose skin they have. Then they pull the skin over the armature for a lifelike natural look.

 

https://sculptedanimations.com/artzeeliquidsealer/

https://www.powertexcreations.com/

https://nmclay.com/clayhardener-fabric-stiffener-and-draping-liquid-8oz

Working With FiberClays

  • Domestic Kaolins Cone 10 White Porcelain

    $0.69 As low as: $0.45

    Domestic Kaolins Cone 10 White Porcelain

    Domestic Porcelain is a blend of three American kaolins, NO ball clays, and two plasticisers to create a porcelain clay less expensive than the Grolleg bodies, a little less translucent, whiter, and a lot easier to throw. 

    Cone 10 shrinkage 15.00% 
    Absorption 1%

    Penetrometer 6.25
  • Zinc Oxide Calcined AP 506

    $6.19 As low as: $2.44

    Zinc Oxide Calcined 

    In general, zinc increases the maturing range of a glaze, promotes higher gloss, brightens colors and reduces expansion.  It is used extensively in once fired Bristol Glazes and crystalline glazes.

    AP 506

  • Ferro Frits 3110 High Soda Frit

    $3.37 As low as: $2.05
    Ferro Frits 3110 High Soda Frit
  • Fusion Frit FZ-16 Zinc + low alumina

    $6.99 As low as: $4.26

    Fusion Frit FZ-16 Zinc + low alumina

    Great for old fashion bristol glazes.