Clay Plein Air Tips

On Oahu, at Waianae, Saturday evening, Peter Murray has kindly offered to spearhead a pit-fire to allow clay artists to bring dry bisqueware already prepared to go into the pit firing. No wetware or greenware will go in the firing.  All are welcome to join up for a simultaneous barbecue – please bring your own grill item. Please contact to join us.

Tips for working ceramics on-site:

Please contact if you have more advice or could recommend a good article. For now, here are a few tips:

  1. Pack plenty of water, or pack an empty container that can be filled using a public restroom facility. A few large screw top jars or small sealable buckets are excellent. Remember you might not be able to dump your water out, so you need to plan as if you will be packing it out too. If you do dump out dirty water, make sure it is in an appropriate place. Do not clog sinks or dirty the floors of public restrooms. If you have been working with clay, you can probably find a nice tree and use your dirty water to water the tree if the water isn’t very dirty, or dump it carefully in the toilet if it isn’t too sludgy. Please pack it out if you use anything toxic, or if the water is full of clay particles to the point where it could be too much for a toilet to handle. We need to leave no trace of our creative activities upon the places we visit.
  2. Pack a full roll of paper towels
  3. Pack a trash bag or box or other container to control the waste you generate while on-site.
  4. Plan to control lightweight tools and paper towels so they don’t blow away in a breeze or gust.
  5. Work in the shade so you and your clay don’t dry out too fast.
  6. Consider working off-peak hours so that the temperature is more moderate. The sun is not kind to ceramic work.
  7. Think about which sorts of techniques lend themselves better to the outdoors. Throwing pottery may be a challenge unless you have a portable wheel that doesn’t require power. Building with coils and carving tools can be very portable. Plan a piece that works for the circumstances.
  8. Pack all your tools and remember they will probably need to be cleaned at home. Bring appropriate containers to control the messy tools.
  9. Think about a portable work surface for the piece you are going to create, and a portable work surface for your comfort. You could pack a camping chair and a foldable TV tray, a card table and folding chair, You could pack a camping chair, a folding chair that is lightweight, a set of knee pads, a yoga mat or blanket – anything to sit or kneel comfortably as you work on your ceramic piece.
  10. A small wooden or Masonite board could act as a nice support surface for your clay piece in progress. It would be easy to clean too. Place it on top of your portable table, or you could set it on a rock or the ground to work as your table!
  11. Do not leave your unused clay in your hot car. It will dry out. It’s best to bring all your clay with you to the shade so it stays at a lower temperature.