How To Prevent Pottery Clay From Cracking While Drying

Being a potter is not easy; you must make huge efforts to create items from clay. It will be a waste of time and effort if the clay of your unique pottery item starts cracking while drying. Many people make little mistakes that will cause huge losses in the future. Today, we will help you learn how to prevent your pottery from cracking.

How To Prevent Pottery Clay From Cracking While Drying

Reasons Behind Cracking Of Pottery Clay While Drying

There are many reasons that cause the cracking of clay during the drying procedure.

  1. The main reason behind the cracking of your pottery clay is that your pottery is facing uneven drying. It means some parts of your pottery dry faster than others which makes the piece to crack.
  2. The second reason is that your clay dries too quickly. Wet clay includes tiny particles that are surrounded by water. When your pottery clay dries faster, the water evaporates, making these particles start shrinking to fill the gaps in the clay. This will cause cracking of your pottery while drying.
  3. The third reason is, you didn’t compress the clay enough during its formation. Because proper pressure is necessary to align the clay particles correctly. If you do not perform this task ideally, these clay particles will stay disorganized and start cracking while drying.

Step TO Prevent Pottery Clay From Cracking

A pottery item requires a lot of hard work, and if it cracks after drying, it will ruin all your efforts. But don’t worry; some easy steps will help prevent your pottery clay from cracking. These steps are:

1. Control The Drying Time Of Clay

The first and foremost thing you must know is the drying procedure of pottery clay so that you can easily control the clay’s drying time.

  1. In the first stage, water is present in between the clay particles. At this point, your clay has the highest moisture, making it flexible, and you can easily mold it to give the required design.
  2. In the second stage, the clay dries and becomes hard leather. At this point, the water evaporates enough, making the clay harder. You can add handles, trimming, and other necessary adaptations at this stage.
  3. The third stage of clay drying evaporates the water between the spaces of clay particles. Pottery clay must dry more slowly at this stage to prevent it from any crack.

2. Type Of Clay Require For Your Pottery

The type of clay you use for making pottery also plays a vital role in preventing your item from getting cracked. Different clays have different levels of shrinking during evaporation or water. You must know the shrinking rate of the clay because the higher the shrinking rate of pottery clay causes more cracks while drying. For example:

  1. Porcelain shrinks from 12 to 20%.
  2. Low-fire earthware has a 4 to 7% shrinking rate.
  3. Stoneware has a shrinking rate from 12 to 14%.

3.   Wedging Your Clay

Wedging plays an essential role in preventing your pottery clay from cracking. This procedure helps you compress the clay to properly align the particles to prevent it from cracking.

4.   Compressing The Clay

It would be best to compress your clay correctly to make it smooth and soft at this step. If you don’t give enough pressure to your clay, then the tiny clay particles remain disorganized. So, when the water evaporates, it creates cracks in the clay. So try to properly compress your clay while forming it to get better results. You can perform this task by hand or using a pottery wheel.

5.   Attaching Knobs, Handles, And Features To Clay

Adding handles and various attachments are the weak spots from where most cracks occur while drying. You must attack these things carefully to prevent your pottery from getting damaged. The best way to perform this task is to attach these items when your clay is at the second drying stage. At this point, your clay is leather hard and can easily hold these attachments in place.

6.   Select Drying Area For Pottery

Another critical factor that affects your pottery is the area where you are drying your pottery items. So, you must choose where your pottery items can dry slowly. Because a slow drying process is the best technique to prevent your pottery from cracking. For example, you can select a drying room, a portable greenhouse, a damp box, etc.

7.   Make Proper Arrangements For Drying Your Pottery

You have to place different pottery items for drying so they can’t touch each other so the air can easily flow between them. Always position your items so that the attachments will face inward direction so they can’t dry faster than the pottery item, preventing it from getting any cracks.

8.   Rotate Pottery

When drying your pottery items, you must rotate and turn them from time to time for better results. This will help you to see that your pottery is drying correctly. This will also help the overall area of your pottery to dry at the same rate.

9.   Final Stage Of Drying

At this step, you have to place your pottery item in the fresh air to get dry. This helps you to dry the little water left in the clay, which causes no more shrinking of the clay particles. At this final stage, you must remove your pottery from where you are drying it before, whether it is a portable greenhouse, a damp box, or a plastic bag. And place it in the natural air to make it dry completely.  


These are the top and most important steps to prevent your pottery clay from cracking while drying. We discussed the best possible ways to tackle this problem. Follow all the instructions given above for better results. If you face any trouble, leave a comment we will help you solve that problem.  

FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Q 1: What is the main reason behind clay cracking while drying?

Ans: The main reason for cracking pottery clay is that you dry it directly in the fresh air, which evaporates the water faster. This causes the shrinking of clay particles that create cracks in pottery items.

Q 2: What does vinegar do to clay?

Ans: The acidity of vinegar helps break down the clay and make it sticky. Many people use vinegar to make a stronger joint.

Q 3: How do you add plasticity to clay?

Ans:  Mostly, the artists store the clay for a longer time to improve its elasticity of clay. In this process, the clay is mixed with a small amount of water and stored for 2 to 4 weeks, making it thoroughly wetted and increasing its plasticity.

Leave a Comment