Spring…. no,winter….no, wait a minute, it’s summer?

This was the weather in April just a few weeks ago.  Poor, sad, cold, little daffodils.

Garden markers made in anticipation of spring

plant markers ed

   Well, its May 2nd and it’s 83 degrees. Since the snow, we’ve had more snow, and lots of rain.  Now, I guess we’ve moved into summer.     
   The warm weather encouraged me to reclaim some clay. I know, I know, lots of potters don’t reclaim clay.  It’s messy, not cost effective, etc., AND, it’s only dirt, for heavens sakes. The reason I do it is because I hate to throw away anything that can be recycled.  I’m a bit of a recycling and composting nut (just ask my family).           
    Another reason I recycle clay is that I don’t personally dig my own clay.  The clay I use comes bagged in 25 lb. lugs.  It is made from proprietary recipes by clay companies that use mined materials.  Potter’s glaze materials are also mined materials.  I feel that since I am using materials that have an impact on our environment, I should be respectful in their use.       

   So, if you’re interested, here’s the clay reclaim process:

Save trimmings and throwing water in a 5 gallon bucket. Make sure that any dry trimmings have had a chance to slake down. Use a drill with a paint mixing attachment to blunge the mixture.  I mixed it in smaller batches so my poor old drill wouldn’t have too much stress put on it. Also, wear clothes you don’t  mind getting dirty, or on a day like this, shorts and flip flops, so you can hose off when finished.

First batch done and poured into a cloth lined tray. Rinse and repeat.

Here’s another batch.  If you look carefully, you can see it’s a little too thick, so I added some water from clay bags that had been washed.  Yes, I recycle those also.  Where else would I put the recycled clay?   

It’s important to save the water with the small clay particles in it.  This will help with the plasticity of the clay.


Here’s the full drying tray. This represents about 1½  5 gallon buckets of trimmings and water which accumulated over the winter.     
   I have done this in the studio, but it can be rather smelly (think anaerobic bacteria) and the mixer has a tendency to splatter the clay.   
   Did you notice the two buckets of clay bags soaking to the right?

I’ve  learned that when the clay is left outside to dry, it’s a good idea to cover it to keep out seeds and other organic debris. After most of the water has evaporated, I’ll make arches out of the clay and leave it in the studio to firm up.     
   A pug mill would make the whole process a lot easier, but they’re expensive, and I just can’t quite justify buying one right now.

Next time maybe I’ll show you my bucket of recycled glaze ….

© Ingrid Hathaway 2018