Top 5 Tips for Traveling with Clay


Portable Work Station for ClaySo you’d like to do some hand built clay projects while vacationing, right? Sitting by a campfire making pinch pots or lounging by the pool making buttons or whistles or something sounds attractive…well, I am there with you in spirit. Clay projects on the road aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy getting your hands in the mud as much as I do, there is something therapeutic about doing clay with a change of scenery.

Here are my top 5 tips for making this enjoyable:

  1. Do some reverse planning. Heading back from your trip with several pieces of greenware could mean disaster. Take enough re-seal-able buckets, bins, or gallon ice cream buckets along with foam padding, so that you can safely transport your work home without fear of crushing or uneven drying.
  2. Think small. On-the-road is no time to be doing full-sized sculptural busts. Remember Tip #1, you still have to transport your projects home in a fragile condition. Generally, I think of limiting travel pieces to nothing larger than a softball and my workspace as small as a computer lapboard.
  3. Streamline your tool selection. It is so easy to get caught up in the I might need that syndrome that your toolbox is larger than you suitcase. Forgetaboutit! If you can hold every tool that you want to take with you in one hand, you are on the right track.
  4. One clay only. I carry no more than 5 to 7 pounds of wet stoneware on a week-long trip along with a very small, lidded container of slip made from the same clay. OK, you can carry two types of clay if you must, but it does complicate matters a bit more.
  5. Slow down and Play! Think of your travel time clay projects as a time to experiment and do things that you might never take time to do at home. Are there different, detailed textures that you’d like to try? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some fresh, custom, impression stamps to use later? What about making a small-scale, study model of something you have been considering? All that to say, don’t make your travel time with clay the same as you home/studio time.

Paul Pottery PoolsideOne last thing for all of my networking friends. If you are sitting by the pool, or by that campfire, or lounging beneath a beach umbrella with a lapboard project in-progress, count on a curious stranger stopping by to watch and ask questions. You can figure it out from there on how to make your new friend a new link in your network…you might even use some of those business cards for something besides a scoring tool or a means of rescuing a bug from your slip container 🙂

3 Responses to “Top 5 Tips for Traveling with Clay”

  1. Christina says:

    Ha! I love the multiple uses for a business card. Wonderful Paul!

    And I understand exactly why you are sitting in the shade in this bottom picture.

    By the way, I am just now in the process of updating my mailing list for my greeting card mailing which will happen in September. If you’d like to be put on my mailing list to receive one of my Peressini originals send me your mailing address offiline. It would be nice to share something tangible with you in addition to all the lovely photos and Flickr comments we’ve shared. Also, I am toying with the idea of getting back to pottery too. Maybe more whistles. Not sure. I should do one of the studio drop in nights just to see if I still have the spark for it. Might need a little longer away from it in order to get back to it.

    • Paul says:

      I’ll drop you an email with snail mail info…thank you for including me. Be careful getting near the door of the studio, the clay will call you and there is little you can do to resist 🙂

  2. […] After the normal cooking area, dining tent, RV awning, and general hook ups were complete, a small folding camp table and a circle of chairs found their way around the metal fire ring. Fire rings are the designated spots where campers are allowed to build campfires in their respective sites without raising the eyebrows of a friendly park ranger. Let’s review quickly here: Middle Tennessee, July, humidity, and a thermometer that reads like it is set on London Broil – there will be no campfire in this space on this weekend, but it is the accepted space for conversation*. To the campfire set-up recipe, I add my clay tools, a spray bottle, a bucket of water, several pounds of pre-mixed stoneware clay, and a handful of my favorite toys clay tools. […]