I'm thinking of creating a guitar body in clay and wonder if anyone has
ever used wire screening inside of the clay for structural support. I
fire to cone 7 and assume that the wire would likely melt but then
solidfy when cooled. I would think that this might add some resistance
to cracking over just plain clay.
Has anyone ever tried this?...that is using wire screening insice the
Haven't ever tried this, and I'd be very interested to hear
of any results. However, I have put metal a kiln at cone 6
(copper, steel, aluminum) and can tell you that it *oxidizes*
long before it melts. The result with wire is like chow mein
noodles, only more brittle... not something you could use
What I don't know is what would happen inside a clay body.
My guess is that the clay would not prevent much oxidation.
On the other hand, you could probably prevent or reduce the
oxidation by coating the wire with a flux of some sort, maybe
borax. But then you'd have that flux interacting with the
body, as well. Might soften the body too much at temperature.
(Though if the body survived that, it should be better vitrified
which is probably what you want for a good "ringing" tone.)
Regardless of the approach you finally use, I'd love to hear
about the final result with the guitar. Sounds like fun!
D A Q A R T A
Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
In message , Bob Masta
Not for support, but I've sprinkled snippets of 36 swg (very fine)
copper wire on to a freshly-glazed pot before firing to cone 7 oxidised.
With a white glaze, the random copper colouring is quite interesting.
I don't think this will work. Not only would the screen, probably
iron, likely oxidize during the firing, yielding iron oxide (rust),
but it would also react with and weaken the clay. You might want to
look into paper clay (clay with paper fiber added) to see if it will
do what you want.
Trouble is that clay shrinketh as it dries and wire doesn't (it dry
already) If it's stiff enuff to give support my guess is that its stiff
enuff to cracke the clay esp if its IN the clay... A possible way out of
this (that i've used) is to make your wire armature a bit smaller than
the size you want and then pad it out with screwed up paper to get the
size... Newspaper being cheapest... The paper then burns away in the
kiln and leaves you with an oxidised support that you can simply break
up to remove....
I am excited about your project. However, I am interested why you
would need the reinforcement of steel in your guitar? Like any fine
instrument, it is all in your design. Reinforcement can be attained
with the design and support structures utilized. I would suggest
playing with multiple styles, forms and design layouts. What is the
worst that could happen? None would work? Maybe they all will work
and you will have multiple models to utilize and sell. I would also
think about casting and slip pouring your guitar body. Remember that
steel and wood look great with clay so if you find that there is design
flaws in a total clay body guitar, then retool your design to accept a
wood or metal component to accomplish the guitar. It would be fun to
work on the acoustic differences of clay bodies and glazes. You could
spend the rest of your life perfecting this dream. Go for it!
Utilizing a raku clay body may give you less shrinkage, a more
forgiving clay body and a lighter instrument. You can fire the Raku
clay body to cone 6 or 10 depending which body you prefer. Dakota
Potters in Sioux Falls, S. D. has one of the best Raku Clay Bodies I
have ever used. They also have a clay slip that would work great for
slip casting your components.
Do not be afraid to add a wood neck to your clay guitar body. Wood and
clay look very good together. Just be prepared with superior
engineering of your design layout to absorb stresses put upon the
instrument with regular use and even the extremes.
Let me know how it works out!
The Clay Empire
Igniting Imaginations with the Wonders of Clay!
Thanks for all the interesting suggestions. I was planning on using a
wood neck and center block to mount pickups and controls, plus I
couldnt see a total clay guitar being sturdy enough to survive more
than a few attempts at playing. (great for those Pete Townsend finishes
though) On the other hand a cast neck would be possible, and frets
would just be clay bumps...probably have a problem with warpage on
I think I may not bother with any metal within the clay since it
probably would create more problems that it solves. I do plan on
usings slabs and placing reinforcing connections between slabs.
Also since guitars for the most part are "babied" and not dropped or
purposely banged, it may last for quite a while before getting cracked.
I also plan on making the body about 10% larger than designed to allow
for shrinkage. I also plan on sticking with my cone 7 stoneware so
that the clay becomes fused, instead of remaining open (like in a Raku
How do you plan to deal with the stress of the strings? There's
quite a bit of torque on the neck and the body of a guitar created
by stretching the strings. And the strings won't reach the proper
tone without being stretched.
The wood neck will also be attached (glued/epoxy) to a wood body piece
(1 X 3) that will contain the pickups, bridge, and controls with the
clay body glued onto its back. The wood will take all of the stress
from the string tension. I plan on using a Telecaster guitar kit (Saga
brand) as the base for the neck and electronics, and add the wood body
plank of maple.
Yes for the most part ornamental, but I also expect some enhancement or
effect on the sound since this is similar to how a neck-through body
guitar is constructed. Still in the idea stage but I will hopefully
get to work on it soon.