June 12, 2009

Recycling Clay

Since i'm on a roll today I thought I might talk briefly about recycling clay.

When throwing there tends to be a lot of clay that ends up in your wheel trough, trimmings, failed pots etc. It collects up at the end of the day and you can't really throw it away as it will clog the plumbing and generally make a nasty mess.

So it collects. And after awhile you begin to collect quite a lot of it.

Big pottery's have a pugg mill. This is a machine you feed the reclaimed clay into and it pushes through a big tube and forces all the air out. I'm not working with those sort of quantities so I've had to come up with another solution.

I collect up all my reclaimed clay and leave it in a bucket in my work trough. I'm a little bit spoiled as this is an unusually large trough we picked up at a wreckers, and it is perfect for this job! The buckets of clay are topped up with water to help the clay break down.

What you are looking for is a nice, thick slurry and to help this along you have to get your hands in there occasionally and break the big bits up.

Once the clay is in a slurry then you simply dish it out onto your slab and leave over night. I
f the weather is fine and you have a lot of clay to reclaim then it goes into pillowcases and is left outside for a couple of days.

This way your waste clay isn't wasted but quickly finds a new home as a new pot.

laimed clay also has lots of little imperfections from bits of terracotta or other clay you might work with ending up in the mix. This gives it a lot more warmth and character.

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