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#1 OffCenter

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 02:47 PM

After reading reviews and articles about pugmills, I decided to buy a Peter Pugger (the smallest one). During my first incarnation as a potter back in the '70s I used Walkers and Bluebirds. I loved the Walker but those aren't available anymore. I've had the Peter Pugger 2 years and have only used it a few times because, first, it is almost as much trouble as just mixing clay by hand and, second, the clay that comes out is the most unplastic, unusable crap I've ever seen. Even when all I'm doing is running some clay through it to even it all out (same wetness) and put really nice plastic clay in, it comes out horribly unplastic. Even aging it doesn't help much. I've got some Frost and Southern Ice that I ruined by pugging it over a year ago and it is still crap clay. I've tried adding a little beer. I've saved slip to add instead of water. I tried adding a little Ball clay. Nothing helps. Anyone else out there experience anything like this?

Jiim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#2 Mark C.

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:46 PM

We who use porcelain have always had issues reclaiming it.

My story is below from clay art back in 05



Waited one year and it thru poorly any legs waited till year 2 and same thing =waited one more year and could only make small stuff and it never was right. Ended up donating it all to our University pottery students.

Now I toss the trimming away.



I know a new young upcoming potter again with a 1-year-old machine exactly like yours and he is having your same results with his porcelain.



I almost bought one as they (Peter Pugger) is only 3 hours away and was talked out of it by others.

Now I just toss the trimmings-life is short and bad clay is not on my list to deal with if I can avoid it.

Mark

My story from my clay art 05 post

Mark & Linda on sun 30 jan 05



Here's my old story on recycling Porcelain. This may shed some light

on why Mel said that this may not be worth it for some.



This story is over 15 years old, but it still rings true for me

today. I used to throw only stoneware which was a breeze to slake

slurry and pug, it threw great and all was well with the studio

potter in me. Then my production gradually switched to porcelain, so

I started to try and reclaim it. Many woes later I decided that I

would get it bone dry, smash up the big chunks and run it through the

local university Soldner mixer and then pug it. So I saved 3 tons of

dried scrap (that's #6000s). I knew that it was very easy to get too

wet, so I ordered #500 of dried, bagged,Sasuga porcelain to mix with

my several flavors of porcelain scraps. In trade for use of said

university equipment I did a kiln building slide show for the

advanced class. That was 1/4 day. It took 1/4 day to load up truck

and trailer with scraps. The next day was spent entirely with myself

and a hired younger college-aged buck mixing in the Soldner and

pugging twice thru a Bluebird pugger (no vac back then) bagging and

loading it to and from truck and trailer. The day was long, my

friends and my back was sore. On the way home my borrowed trailer had

a rim come apart and pass me on the road from the excess weight of

the now wet clay which was no longer 3 tons, but a whole lot more. I

got the load back to the studio that night and unloaded in the a.m.

So all that only took 2 FULL days, and I had to fix (weld a bent )

trailer and buy 2 new rims.



I added vinegar when mixing to help it age and grow legs. That (leg)

is what makes clay throw up into nice cylinders. I waited 1 year...

2 years... 3 years... but alas no leg. I threw at least 2/3 of that

clay into small forms, but a pitcher - no way. So after 5 years I

donated it back to the university - take all come get - they got.

What I learned was this was not worth my time and back then all I had

was time. Now I donate all scrap porcelain to an art center who can

use and process it. They mix it with scrap b-mix which has legs. I

am over 50 now but this story is the same for all ages. If I used

stoneware I would be happily reclaiming it - but porcelain is a clay

of a different color. This was one of life's wake-up lessons for me,

and I woke up. Mel had it right: some production potters do not have

the time for all that misery. Mark

http://www.liscomhillpottery.com/




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#3 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:58 PM

I ran my Frost through my Bailey de-airing pug mill. I had moistened the drying bags and then pugged it.
It was fine.
Marcia

#4 OffCenter

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 05:34 PM

Mark, you're the first person I've run into who hasn't raved about how great pugmills are. What I ruined this time was my B-Mix Woodfire (cone 12-13) that I'm using for an anagama firing coming up.

Marcia, my Peter Pugger de-airs, too. For a while I thought that maybe the de-airing was the problem but clay (Frost, Southern Ice, B-Mix, B-Mix Woodfire, Lizella Red) all come out unusable de-aired or not.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#5 Mark C.

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 07:39 PM

Jim I like pugmills just fine-I just found them for my clay needs not to work well.
I loved them for stoneware and own an old alpine vertical pug mill when I did stoneware.Its out in the shed ready to roll away I hope to a friend.
I think the Peter Pugger is as good as it gets but just not for what I'm doing. I only have my experience and that of several other Pro potters to back that up.

I also realized some time ago in this order was not for me
Making clay from scratch was not worth my time
Pugging scraps was not worth my time
Reclaiming trimmings not worth my time
I now also found that one of my glazes I use a lot I have Laguna make it by the ton for me so I have time to make the other 15 glazes I use.
As a production potter time and labor tend to make me be more efficient
Mel Jacobson said it best
(some production potters do not have the time for all that misery.)
Mark
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#6 Idaho Potter

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 09:09 PM

I've had a Peter Pugger (VPM-20) since 2003 and haven't had any major woes. All clay in my studio is the same (students as well as mine) so when scrap is recycled, it gets weighed first and then the equivalent is pugged out as replacement. I've been grousing about not having the smallest one (VP-9)--have I been lucky? Mine works fine and de-airs with suitable plasticity but I am using BC-6 and that ain't porcelain. Maybe Mark is right, it's the difference in clay.

#7 OffCenter

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:28 PM

I've had a Peter Pugger (VPM-20) since 2003 and haven't had any major woes. All clay in my studio is the same (students as well as mine) so when scrap is recycled, it gets weighed first and then the equivalent is pugged out as replacement. I've been grousing about not having the smallest one (VP-9)--have I been lucky? Mine works fine and de-airs with suitable plasticity but I am using BC-6 and that ain't porcelain. Maybe Mark is right, it's the difference in clay.


Nope, it's not the difference in clay. Like I said above my pugmill ruins 5 or 6 very different clays ranging from Southern Ice porcelain to Lizella Red terra cotta.
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#8 Raku

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:38 PM

After reading reviews and articles about pugmills, I decided to buy a Peter Pugger (the smallest one). During my first incarnation as a potter back in the '70s I used Walkers and Bluebirds. I loved the Walker but those aren't available anymore. I've had the Peter Pugger 2 years and have only used it a few times because, first, it is almost as much trouble as just mixing clay by hand and, second, the clay that comes out is the most unplastic, unusable crap I've ever seen. Even when all I'm doing is running some clay through it to even it all out (same wetness) and put really nice plastic clay in, it comes out horribly unplastic. Even aging it doesn't help much. I've got some Frost and Southern Ice that I ruined by pugging it over a year ago and it is still crap clay. I've tried adding a little beer. I've saved slip to add instead of water. I tried adding a little Ball clay. Nothing helps. Anyone else out there experience anything like this?

Jiim


does the Mill have a fine filter, Does it have a vacuume system to remover air when pugging.



Regards

#9 OffCenter

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:16 AM


After reading reviews and articles about pugmills, I decided to buy a Peter Pugger (the smallest one). During my first incarnation as a potter back in the '70s I used Walkers and Bluebirds. I loved the Walker but those aren't available anymore. I've had the Peter Pugger 2 years and have only used it a few times because, first, it is almost as much trouble as just mixing clay by hand and, second, the clay that comes out is the most unplastic, unusable crap I've ever seen. Even when all I'm doing is running some clay through it to even it all out (same wetness) and put really nice plastic clay in, it comes out horribly unplastic. Even aging it doesn't help much. I've got some Frost and Southern Ice that I ruined by pugging it over a year ago and it is still crap clay. I've tried adding a little beer. I've saved slip to add instead of water. I tried adding a little Ball clay. Nothing helps. Anyone else out there experience anything like this?

Jiim


does the Mill have a fine filter, Does it have a vacuume system to remover air when pugging.

No filter. can pug with de-air on or off.


Regards


E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#10 OffCenter

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:37 AM

Jim I like pugmills just fine-I just found them for my clay needs not to work well.
I loved them for stoneware and own an old alpine vertical pug mill when I did stoneware.Its out in the shed ready to roll away I hope to a friend.
I think the Peter Pugger is as good as it gets but just not for what I'm doing. I only have my experience and that of several other Pro potters to back that up.

I also realized some time ago in this order was not for me
Making clay from scratch was not worth my time
Pugging scraps was not worth my time
Reclaiming trimmings not worth my time
I now also found that one of my glazes I use a lot I have Laguna make it by the ton for me so I have time to make the other 15 glazes I use.
As a production potter time and labor tend to make me be more efficient
Mel Jacobson said it best
(some production potters do not have the time for all that misery.)
Mark


Mark, I was interested in what you said in your first post to this topic because you talked about the clay not being usable after pugging which is what I'm asking about. Your studio practice (no offense) is irrelevant because I'm not a production potter. I made my living in Colorado as a production potter in the '70's but my realization that I would just as soon work in a factory attaching lugs to some machine as attaching 50 handles to 50 mugs was part of the reason for my 35-year sabbatical. Now, I may work all day trying to get the movement and gesture I'm looking for in a huge Jar for an anagama and end up destroying a whole days work (sometimes several days) because they don't make me want to dance. Each jar is 30 lbs of clay. That's not scrap, it's good, plastic clay that needs to be wedged up and I was hoping I could pug it instead of breaking my back wedging 200 lbs of clay.

So, I find it amazing that I seem to be the only potter who hates his pugmill (and, according to everyone I've talked to I have one of the best on the market -- approx. $4,000 with shipping) and was wondering if anyone out there has similar problems with the clay that comes out of their pugmill.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#11 Mark C.

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 10:18 AM

JIm
I think if you add things like vinegar /Beer?(as you dis) or other stuff to get the microbes growing again that will be the best thing as it then ages.It will need some aging. Sounds like the legs is what you need the most from reclaim so I would work the most on the mircrobes.
As noted the porcelain never got legs -I'm thinking your stoneware will get legs as it ages.The slip adding should help as its already got the good stuff in it.
Laguna Wood and saggar clay I reclaimed last year for my salt kiln fire as well as other stonewares-these seem to get legs in shorted times.
I have salted B-mix wood and its was a different animal as far as reclaiming. As its a whiter stoneware as is B-mix.
I suggest you post this on clayart for more hits.
Mark
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#12 Matt Oz

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 11:15 AM

I don't have a pugger, so I don't know how helpful this will be.

I take clay that is a little stiff and wedge it with softer clay to get it workable, which I'm sure most potters do (on a side note: I noticed with the clay I use, it needs to set at least a few days or pieces made from it warp). I usually don’t have any problems doing this, but I noticed when I wedged stiffer clay with too soft sticky clay, it would not mix well, and doing this a few times produced a grainy feeling, very unplastic clay body. No amount of wedging or aging helped, the only thing that fixed it was mixing the clay into a slurry, letting it soak for a few days, then drying it on plaster or other means. Southern ice is made in a similar way (mixed as a slurry then filter pressed).

After that problem, I still wedge soft clay into stiffer clay, just not too soft. Clay that is too stiff to work with up to leather hard, I soak it in water overnight or longer, and deal with it from there. Anything past leather hard, I let dry out and do the slurry thing. I still mix them together when they are workable. Clay stays pretty plastic this way.

Don't know if any of this relates to pugging, and I wish I had a one.

#13 neilestrick

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 11:48 AM

Nope, it's not the difference in clay. Like I said above my pugmill ruins 5 or 6 very different clays ranging from Southern Ice porcelain to Lizella Red terra cotta.


If all clays are coming out bad, then I think it's safe to say it's a pugger issue. The only thing that could be causing a problem is the vacuum system, like it's not running long enough, or there's a leak, etc. If I remember right, with the Peter Puggers you have to let it run for a bit before you start extruding it. How long do you let it run?

Is it doing a good job of de-airing, but is still bad? Like when you cut a hunk open with a wire is it a nice dense mix? Usually clay that has not been properly de-aired will have visible swirls in it from the auger rotation, or small cracks or air bubble between the swirls.
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#14 Pres

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:49 PM

After reading reviews and articles about pugmills, I decided to buy a Peter Pugger (the smallest one). During my first incarnation as a potter back in the '70s I used Walkers and Bluebirds. I loved the Walker but those aren't available anymore. I've had the Peter Pugger 2 years and have only used it a few times because, first, it is almost as much trouble as just mixing clay by hand and, second, the clay that comes out is the most unplastic, unusable crap I've ever seen. Even when all I'm doing is running some clay through it to even it all out (same wetness) and put really nice plastic clay in, it comes out horribly unplastic. Even aging it doesn't help much. I've got some Frost and Southern Ice that I ruined by pugging it over a year ago and it is still crap clay. I've tried adding a little beer. I've saved slip to add instead of water. I tried adding a little Ball clay. Nothing helps. Anyone else out there experience anything like this?

Jiim


Used the Walker up until my retirement from the HS in 2009-Yeah we had one that I ordered in the 70's before all the complaints about safety. I used it to recycle everything we had in the studio. Cleaned it out to do porcelain, and white clays, cleaned it again to do the brown stoneware bodies all at cone5-6. I usually had two plastic trash barrels full of slaking clay, and one two of harder drier clay. I would keep damp towels over the harder clay, to keep wet, and promote moisture and mold i the bucket. Pugging was from both buckets, and with the Walker a double run was appropriate. Even though this machine did not de-air, it compacted pretty well and blocks were dense. Fresh clay was set aside for two weeks, with towels again over top, plasticity and strength of this clay was never a problem, and I was often able to throw better with our recycle than the boxed wet that we started the year with. I do know that our porcelain recycle benefited most by more of the already stiffened clay with less of the slake. In the last few years with budgets getting sharp we went to a standard brown ^5-6 stoneware.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#15 yedrow

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 10:20 PM

[quote]Even though this machine did not de-air, it compacted pretty well and blocks were dense. Fresh clay was set aside for two weeks, with towels again over top, plasticity and strength of this clay was never a problem, and I was often able to throw better with our recycle than the boxed wet that we started the year with./quote]

Thanks! I got an ancient Walker a few months ago and haven't yet had enough 'waste' clay to use it. At work we had a Venco and now have a Bailey, so I'm spoiled. I've been thinking of just selling the Walker because I haven't been seeing a reason to keep it around since it doesn't de-air. It seems to have earned the respect of you and others, so perhaps I should let it work for me a bit before I make any crazy decisions.

#16 lcar

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:32 AM

I have a Peter Pugger and absolutely love it. I do find though, if I pug anything too long, it loses it's plasticity. For me it's the timing that is essential. It's best pugged just long enough to be thoroughly mixed and no longer. If I do screw up and pug the clay for too long of a time, it's unusable. I will let it rest a day or two and repug it a shorter length of time with a bit of water. This works for me.

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#17 OffCenter

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:41 AM

I don't have a pugger, so I don't know how helpful this will be.

I take clay that is a little stiff and wedge it with softer clay to get it workable, which I'm sure most potters do (on a side note: I noticed with the clay I use, it needs to set at least a few days or pieces made from it warp). I usually don’t have any problems doing this, but I noticed when I wedged stiffer clay with too soft sticky clay, it would not mix well, and doing this a few times produced a grainy feeling, very unplastic clay body. No amount of wedging or aging helped, the only thing that fixed it was mixing the clay into a slurry, letting it soak for a few days, then drying it on plaster or other means. Southern ice is made in a similar way (mixed as a slurry then filter pressed).

After that problem, I still wedge soft clay into stiffer clay, just not too soft. Clay that is too stiff to work with up to leather hard, I soak it in water overnight or longer, and deal with it from there. Anything past leather hard, I let dry out and do the slurry thing. I still mix them together when they are workable. Clay stays pretty plastic this way.

Don't know if any of this relates to pugging, and I wish I had a one.


The grainy, unplastic clay you describe is what comes out of my pugmill no matter what I put into it. Out of all the responses yours and Icar's give me some ideas to try. Thanks.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#18 OffCenter

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:46 AM

[quote name='yedrow' date='01 May 2012 - 11:20 PM' timestamp='1335928836' post='16676']
[quote]Even though this machine did not de-air, it compacted pretty well and blocks were dense. Fresh clay was set aside for two weeks, with towels again over top, plasticity and strength of this clay was never a problem, and I was often able to throw better with our recycle than the boxed wet that we started the year with./quote]

Thanks! I got an ancient Walker a few months ago and haven't yet had enough 'waste' clay to use it. At work we had a Venco and now have a Bailey, so I'm spoiled. I've been thinking of just selling the Walker because I haven't been seeing a reason to keep it around since it doesn't de-air. It seems to have earned the respect of you and others, so perhaps I should let it work for me a bit before I make any crazy decisions.
[/quote]

Pugmills used to vary a lot between machines on one end that tended to be good clay mixers but not as good at pugging and machines on the other end that were good puggers but not so good mixers. The Walker was a great mixer and a fair pugger, which is what I prefer. I wish they still made the Walker, I'd gladly swap it for my Peter Pugger.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#19 LEWIS

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 05:52 AM

After reading reviews and articles about pugmills, I decided to buy a Peter Pugger (the smallest one). During my first incarnation as a potter back in the '70s I used Walkers and Bluebirds. I loved the Walker but those aren't available anymore. I've had the Peter Pugger 2 years and have only used it a few times because, first, it is almost as much trouble as just mixing clay by hand and, second, the clay that comes out is the most unplastic, unusable crap I've ever seen. Even when all I'm doing is running some clay through it to even it all out (same wetness) and put really nice plastic clay in, it comes out horribly unplastic. Even aging it doesn't help much. I've got some Frost and Southern Ice that I ruined by pugging it over a year ago and it is still crap clay. I've tried adding a little beer. I've saved slip to add instead of water. I tried adding a little Ball clay. Nothing helps. Anyone else out there experience anything like this?

Jiim


Hi Jim,


YES ME. and I thought that I was alone. I have a PM- 50 deairing pugger and I agree with you. This machine is like the Kings New Clothes! The company that make it sing its praises and all I get is crap clay just like you. Also the de-airing bit keeps clogging and does not work either. I have given up basically and I don't use it any more. Frankly it was a complete waste of money. Right now it will not even pug out the clay any more and I have to take it apart to clear it out. Just a chore at this stage. I would love to sell it but I cant do that with a clear conscience.

Sorry I don't have better news or a cure for you.

#20 OffCenter

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 08:41 AM


After reading reviews and articles about pugmills, I decided to buy a Peter Pugger (the smallest one). During my first incarnation as a potter back in the '70s I used Walkers and Bluebirds. I loved the Walker but those aren't available anymore. I've had the Peter Pugger 2 years and have only used it a few times because, first, it is almost as much trouble as just mixing clay by hand and, second, the clay that comes out is the most unplastic, unusable crap I've ever seen. Even when all I'm doing is running some clay through it to even it all out (same wetness) and put really nice plastic clay in, it comes out horribly unplastic. Even aging it doesn't help much. I've got some Frost and Southern Ice that I ruined by pugging it over a year ago and it is still crap clay. I've tried adding a little beer. I've saved slip to add instead of water. I tried adding a little Ball clay. Nothing helps. Anyone else out there experience anything like this?

Jiim


Hi Jim,


YES ME. and I thought that I was alone. I have a PM- 50 deairing pugger and I agree with you. This machine is like the Kings New Clothes! The company that make it sing its praises and all I get is crap clay just like you. Also the de-airing bit keeps clogging and does not work either. I have given up basically and I don't use it any more. Frankly it was a complete waste of money. Right now it will not even pug out the clay any more and I have to take it apart to clear it out. Just a chore at this stage. I would love to sell it but I cant do that with a clear conscience.

Sorry I don't have better news or a cure for you.


Hi Lewis... The strange thing is that you and I are a very small minority here. Do a poll of people with pugmills or even just Peter Puggers and the majority would say they like their pugmill. I got an email from someone at Peter Pugger a few weeks ago after he saw this thread and he shocked me by starting off with admitting that the bad clay was the fault of the pugmill. He even put up a video on Utube showing how to correct this fault in the machine but then took the video down a few days later.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.




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