[Clayart] Reclaiming 30 lbs of clay

Robert Harris robertgharris at gmail.com
Wed Jul 14 15:17:39 UTC 2021

I'm in between the two. I throw a lot of English porcelain which is
seriously pricey. I also don't have a pugmill - which probably doubles the
time and quadruples the effort needed.

So ... easy to reclaim scrap - trimmings, broken pots etc.  go in a bucket.
Every few weeks (and it's all naturally bone dry by then), I fill the
bucket up with water and let it slake for a couple of days. I then use a
jiffy mixer to really mix it up. Don't want it too thick, a real slip. Let
it settle for a day or so, take off a bit of water, mix it up (with a bit
of vinegar if I remember) then put it out on plaster. Wait for a day or two
(I put newspaper over it after 24 hours so the edges don't get crispy (and
I've seen people press it with sheets or towels which wicks the water up
and speeds evaporation). I try and make sure I get to it before it reaches
50lbs. (I reclaimed 75lbs a couple of weeks ago which was a bit too much
effort at once without a pugmill).

BUT, any scraps with dubious provenance (i.e. end up on the floor or aren't
directly off the wheel or a broken pot) get chucked. And large blocks or
weird, slaked but then dried out stuff, gets chucked. Even at $40 a box, if
I spend 2-3 hours reclaiming 50lbs of clay I'm essentially working less
than (Denver) minimum wage ($14.77). And sometimes it all gets a little
overwhelming (and in a co-op there is a space issue!), and it all goes out
in the alley (it's just dirt after all!). I do it more in the name of
environmental impact than to save money.

And frankly if I made only big pieces; pieces without much trimming I
probably wouldn't bother at all. And if I used a relatively cheap clay and
didn't make much I DEFINITELY wouldn't bother without a pugmill.


On Tue, 13 Jul 2021 at 19:30, kathi at lesueurclaywork.com <
kathi at lesueurclaywork.com> wrote:

> I have never had a problem with my scrap clay. It is some of the best
> throwing clay I use. I usually have two scrap buckets going. One that my
> trimmings go into to dry  out.  The other has clay that has already dried.
> My throwing water goes into that bucket. It sits for two weeks while the
> water evaporates of a little and then goes onto old kiln shelves to dry
> enough to pug. It takes just a little care to see that debris doesn’t fall
> into the bucket. I would estimate that I process at least 1000# of scrap
> every year.  That’s a lot of money to throw away.
> Kathi LeSueur
> Sent from my iPad
> > On Jul 13, 2021, at 4:51 PM, Michael Wendt <mwendt at wendtpottery.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > 
> > Hi Bonnie
> > I am a heretic, I know, but I would throw the clay away and buy new,
> fresh clay since the time we spend trying to capture and re-use scrap is a
> lot of work. I am set up with screening equipment, a 15 HP 2200 LB/Hr
> vacuum de-airing pug mill, a giant ribbon mixer for batching plus a 50
> LB/batch de-airing ribbon mixer and I still toss scrap because it
> invariably has picked up debris which causes defects.
> > One or two perfect pots will pay for a lot of fresh new clay.
> > Your time is better spent throwing, decorating and firing wares.
> > Regards,
> > Michael Wendt
> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Bonnie Hellman" <mou10ms at gmail.com>
> > To: "Clayart international pottery discussion forum" <
> clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
> > Sent: Saturday, July 10, 2021 9:01 AM
> > Subject: [Clayart] Reclaiming 30 lbs of clay
> >
> >
> >> I have about 30 pounds of clay in various states of wetness/dryness
> that I
> >> want to reconstitute for throwing. (I thoroughly  cleaned out my Peter
> >> Pugger after several years because the clay in the barrel was to dry to
> be
> >> extruded.)
> >>
> >> Some is hard as bisque, although none was fired. Other pieces are wet
> and
> >> sloppy.
> >>
> >> Would you dry out everything and then wet it? Would you put it in a lot
> of
> >> water?
> >>
> >> It's been a long time since I've had this much scrap.
> >>
> >> Thanks for sharing your experience,
> >> Bonnie
> >>
> >> --
> >> Bonnie D. Hellman
> >> PO Box 1210
> >> Ouray, CO 81427
> >> mou10ms at gmail.com <mou10ms at gmail.com>
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