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Clay Cat Litter

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Hi all, I have a question that has probably never been asked before:  is clay-based cat litter usable as content for casting slip? I ask this because  it's cheaper and  I can buy it from a local store rather than order my usual clay online and have to pay an exorbitant delivery fee. I like to experiment so was going to make something small to see what would happen but I also thought I'd put the question out there in case anyone had actually tried this. Thanks in advance!

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Clumping, or non-clumping?

The non-clumping stuff used to made of Fullers Earth (and may still be so). It typically lacks any useful degree of plasticity, and would be unlikely to make a good clay for ceramics on its own. It is (or was?) used with other, plastic, clays to make a body, acting as a binder. Whether that's still the case, I don't know.

The clumping stuff is largely Bentonite. This will certainly not work for your purpose on its own.

It might just be possible to blend clumping and non-clumping litter clays to form a workable body. Someone will be along in a minute to advise against it, on the basis that these litters will probably have all sorts of additives beyond their simple clay content, and the (potential) fumes from heating those additives might be less than lovely.

TBH, I suspect that the answer is that it's probably not such a great idea, although full marks for thinking of it...

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As it's a clumping litter, it will be mostly Bentonite. You are going to have real difficultly making anything directly from Bentonite. It is normally added to other ingredients as a tiny percentage - say, 2% max in a glaze (to avoid hard-panning), or 2-3% in a clay body to improve its plasticity.

Steal a little from your mog (preferably before (s)he gets to it), and try getting it to mix with water to form anything like a paste. You'll be there a long while, having fun. It's notoriously difficult getting Bentonite and water to admingle. Having said that, the cat manages, and the litter duly clumps... Normally, you'd pre-mix the stuff with other dry ingredients (say, for a glaze) which allows the Bentonite particles to 'wet' more easily. But on it's own - try it and see. Experience is always the best teacher!

I'm not trying to put you off experimenting - quite the opposite - but be prepared from some surprises along the way! If you do get as far as firing the kitty litter, I'd be very interested to know the results.

Edited by Sputty
Cats are great.

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There are very few clays that are useable on their own as a casting slip (or throwing body for that matter). A clay body requires clay, binders such as feldspars or talc, silica, and other things. So even if the litter would work as the clay content, you'd still have to buy a bunch of other ingredients to make it work. Just take some of you normal clay, dry it out and pulverize it, and make slip out of that for now.

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No it will not work-Thats my hunch from my life in clay experience.

You can add kitty litter to REAL clay slip slip-but that also needs testing and really has no gain as I can see.

You can test it and tell us the results.I think we would or at least I would be amazed if it did work.

I could ask my cat but he passed away two years ago.

 

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Your product says it is Australian bentonite, but we have both the sodium and calcium bentonite (aka Fullers Earth) here in Oz, so you would have to know which one it is.  Search sodium bentonite and calcium bentonite on these forums and there is plenty of discussion.  

Have to say that in my experience/research cat litter is usually the calcium bentonite variety.  Calcium bentonite is plenty plastic, but not sure how much that will matter for slip casting?

I think shrinkage will be the main issue  either way.  Sodium bentonite will be super shrinking and you will probably get a lot of cracking in your molds.  Calcium bentonite shrinks less, and will be more forgiving.   With either one, though, I would be blending with normal clay.  Only experimentation will reveal the right blend.

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This is all very interesting, don't you think?

My own cat litter (that is, the litter of my cat...) is a clay known as Attapulgite (also known as Palygorskite). This is one of about a million things that seems to come under the umbrella of 'Fullers Earth'.

Now, an unexpected pottery connection: Attapulgite with Indigo was used by Mayan Indians as a colourant on both pottery and plasterwork. The resultant coating, when heated to moderate temperatures for a while, was remarkably resistant to mineral acids and heat, amongst other things.

The things you can learn from your cat.

Maya blue: a clay-organic pigment?

Maya Blue - a New Perspective

Someone, somewhere, will be reproducing this stuff.

Edited by Sputty

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9 hours ago, Viking Potter said:

Most important in this discussion is to avoid at all costs using recycled litter.

The late Martin Webb (UK) was into using recycled cat litter, apparently. Whether this contributed to him now being 'late', I don't know.

cat litter clear glaze?!?

There's actually quite a lot on cat litter in the potters.org archives, if you can work out an adequate way of searching it.

Sticking this:

cat litter site:/www.potters.org

...into a Google search box gives intriguing results.

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