Fiber Clay works great for handbuilding.

We make Fiber Clay that never ROTS

Fiber Clay Creature

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!

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.