Pottery Clay Storage

Whether you make your own clay from local materials or buy prepared clay, it’s important to learn sensible strategies to keep your pottery clay properly stored— whether you’re going to come back to it in a few hours or even a few years.

Because there are different storage options available depending on your budget, how much clay you have, and your available storage space, each artist tends to find the method that works best for them and their situation.

That said, there are two main ways to store clay. One is to tightly seal it in plastic to preserve the moisture content of the clay. The other is to store your clay in dry form and rehydrate it when you need it. Let's take a closer look.

How to Store Moist Clay

A block of Seattle Freeze translucent mid-range porcelain clay with a orange label sits in a white  5 gallon bucket wtih a lid behind it

The best way to store your clay and keep it moist is by sealing it tightly in a thick plastic bag and placing it in a plastic storage container. This will help keep the moisture content of the clay and prevent it from becoming moldy. The biggest advantage to keeping your clay wet is that you can use the clay right away without any preparation. You don’t need to take the time to rehydrate your clay; simply wedge what you need and get started.

You will need to check your stored moist clay periodically to make sure your clay is not drying out or growing mold—especially if you are storing a lot of clay for a long time. If the clay has dried at all, spray water inside the bag and the plastic container and close it back up. 

How to Store Dry Clay

If you are not using your clay for a long period of time or have a large amount of clay, you can store it as dried clay. In order to store your clay dry, large pieces of moist clay should be sliced into smaller chunks with a wire cutter and allowed to dry out before storage. This will make it easier to rehydrate later. 

You can keep the dry clay in a plastic bag or plastic container with a lid until you are ready to rehydrate it. When you are ready to use the clay, break up any large pieces, add water and wait until the clay absorbs the water, and then mix to an even consistency. The clay will be a thick slip and will need to dry on plaster until it is wedgable.  When it returns to a workable consistency, wedge it is really, really well to remove air, and the clay is ready to use. Note: always make sure you wear a dust mask when working with dry clay.