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Nelly

Is there something called "clay maturation"

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Dear All,

 

I have a bucket of scraps. I want to not only recycle but I want my body even better than before. Some suggest "mother vinegar" to assist in what I think is called "clay maturation." Does anyone have any other tips.

 

I remember once in my old studio, someone opened a bag of old clay and it just reeked. She said 'not to worry, that is mold and mold is a good thing--it makes it better to throw."

 

Does anyone have any thoughts on this and is there such a thing as "maturation." Can clay, like wine, get better with age??

 

Nelly

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Dear All,

 

I have a bucket of scraps. I want to not only recycle but I want my body even better than before. Some suggest "mother vinegar" to assist in what I think is called "clay maturation." Does anyone have any other tips.

 

I remember once in my old studio, someone opened a bag of old clay and it just reeked. She said 'not to worry, that is mold and mold is a good thing--it makes it better to throw."

 

Does anyone have any thoughts on this and is there such a thing as "maturation." Can clay, like wine, get better with age??

 

Nelly

 

 

I notice if I dig clay an process it that when it's hanging in canvas the clear water drips out and the clay stays behind.

 

Nothing special but

 

If I put a bucket under it and keep the water .....in three to five days I get this wonderfull clear fungus that forms on top of the water.

 

Now what's special is that two inch thick gel will slick up a tods but on a assfault road so well he can make a mile a second.

 

Hope this entertains and helps at the same time

 

 

Two fur rat dog

Out

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Can clay, like wine, get better with age? Clay is actually better than wine. That bottle of wine will, at some point in time, sour; clay, however, will only get better with age. And, while working in clay can be as intoxicating as drinking wine, you don't wake up with a hangover. I believe adding vinegar to your recycled scraps may restore some plasticity to the clay body. Aging does mature clay . . . I'm sure you've gotten a bag of clay that the manufacturer seemed to have made the day before . . . very soft, wet, and impossible to throw . . . and had to put it aside to "age". Some pottery centers would make clay for the next generation of potters and bury it so it would be properly aged and mature.

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Can clay, like wine, get better with age? Clay is actually better than wine. That bottle of wine will, at some point in time, sour; clay, however, will only get better with age. And, while working in clay can be as intoxicating as drinking wine, you don't wake up with a hangover. I believe adding vinegar to your recycled scraps may restore some plasticity to the clay body. Aging does mature clay . . . I'm sure you've gotten a bag of clay that the manufacturer seemed to have made the day before . . . very soft, wet, and impossible to throw . . . and had to put it aside to "age". Some pottery centers would make clay for the next generation of potters and bury it so it would be properly aged and mature.

 

 

That is interesting. What you are saying is that some clay sources will actually hide or bury clay for future generations. I am sure you are referring not to our current manufactured clay but more likely primitive sources. And yes, I have had that experience with one clay body that I find really greasy. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love the final color in terms of the clay's final firing but it is so hard to work with. Even trimming is an issue. Sometimes I have to trim in short spurts. It is that fragile. I have a bag of it right now, it has been sitting for almost a year with me just adding some water through poked holes in the bag. Hopefully, it will throw better this time with this long time lapse. Thank you for this information. Very interesting how there is a maturing process to clay. I thought so.

 

Nelly

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Can clay, like wine, get better with age? Clay is actually better than wine. That bottle of wine will, at some point in time, sour; clay, however, will only get better with age. And, while working in clay can be as intoxicating as drinking wine, you don't wake up with a hangover. I believe adding vinegar to your recycled scraps may restore some plasticity to the clay body. Aging does mature clay . . . I'm sure you've gotten a bag of clay that the manufacturer seemed to have made the day before . . . very soft, wet, and impossible to throw . . . and had to put it aside to "age". Some pottery centers would make clay for the next generation of potters and bury it so it would be properly aged and mature.

 

 

That is interesting. What you are saying is that some clay sources will actually hide or bury clay for future generations. I am sure you are referring not to our current manufactured clay but more likely primitive sources. And yes, I have had that experience with one clay body that I find really greasy. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love the final color in terms of the clay's final firing but it is so hard to work with. Even trimming is an issue. Sometimes I have to trim in short spurts. It is that fragile. I have a bag of it right now, it has been sitting for almost a year with me just adding some water through poked holes in the bag. Hopefully, it will throw better this time with this long time lapse. Thank you for this information. Very interesting how there is a maturing process to clay. I thought so.

 

Nelly

 

 

When I store clay it is in a air tight water tight container.

Water is very important to the microcosm of life. Oxygen not so much.

If the water leaves so does the life.

If u have to rehydrate its not stored right.

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Can clay, like wine, get better with age? Clay is actually better than wine. That bottle of wine will, at some point in time, sour; clay, however, will only get better with age. And, while working in clay can be as intoxicating as drinking wine, you don't wake up with a hangover. I believe adding vinegar to your recycled scraps may restore some plasticity to the clay body. Aging does mature clay . . . I'm sure you've gotten a bag of clay that the manufacturer seemed to have made the day before . . . very soft, wet, and impossible to throw . . . and had to put it aside to "age". Some pottery centers would make clay for the next generation of potters and bury it so it would be properly aged and mature.

 

 

That is interesting. What you are saying is that some clay sources will actually hide or bury clay for future generations. I am sure you are referring not to our current manufactured clay but more likely primitive sources. And yes, I have had that experience with one clay body that I find really greasy. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love the final color in terms of the clay's final firing but it is so hard to work with. Even trimming is an issue. Sometimes I have to trim in short spurts. It is that fragile. I have a bag of it right now, it has been sitting for almost a year with me just adding some water through poked holes in the bag. Hopefully, it will throw better this time with this long time lapse. Thank you for this information. Very interesting how there is a maturing process to clay. I thought so.

 

Nelly

 

Nelly;

You spelled colour wrong. Stay true to your country. Don't let these Americans take over your culture. [kidding!]

TJR.

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Nelly;

As Ratdog referred to.. the trick with processing clay is in the water content. I save all my throwing water and trimmings in a slop bucket. It's important that all fine particles from throwing are retained.

2. Place your scraps on a plaster batt that has been covered loosely with a sheet of canvas.

3. On the second day, flip the entire clay pile over using the canvas sheet. Go away.

4.Third day, take your clay and place it in a used clay bag-the thick bags you get from clay suppliers. Tie with a wire twist tie, also supplied from clay supplier.

5. Place a second bag over the first, but covering the opening , so that you have a complete seal. Let sit for a couple of weeks, after also tying this bag with a second twist tie.

6.When you open your clay you will find that the moisture content is consistent throughout and you will hardly have to wedge at all.

 

Yes, the Chinese do store clay for the next generation, in caves and underground.

TJR.

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Nelly;

As Ratdog referred to.. the trick with processing clay is in the water content. I save all my throwing water and trimmings in a slop bucket. It's important that all fine particles from throwing are retained.

2. Place your scraps on a plaster batt that has been covered loosely with a sheet of canvas.

3. On the second day, flip the entire clay pile over using the canvas sheet. Go away.

4.Third day, take your clay and place it in a used clay bag-the thick bags you get from clay suppliers. Tie with a wire twist tie, also supplied from clay supplier.

5. Place a second bag over the first, but covering the opening , so that you have a complete seal. Let sit for a couple of weeks, after also tying this bag with a second twist tie.

6.When you open your clay you will find that the moisture content is consistent throughout and you will hardly have to wedge at all.

 

Yes, the Chinese do store clay for the next generation, in caves and underground.

TJR.

 

 

Dear All,

 

What I have been doing at this point in my recycling is:

 

1. Save all my scraps (throwing water and pieces that I don't like or have not been bisqued) I usually like them to be 100% dry before I throw them in a scrap bucket (which is a kitty litter contrainer).

 

2. After a few weeks when the scrap bucket is filled, I put in my water. I let it sit for about a week again.

 

3. I then drain off excess water from the mixture of the scraps that are now of a pudding consistency.

 

4. I pour this slop into a pillow case and put it on some papers on my granite table and flip it frequently. It is usually good to go in a few days at the most.

 

Sometimes, I do put vinegar into the slop before mixing it.

 

As for my bagged clay that I have poked holes into--that is a function of my renovations. I have never had a bag go dry--ever. But with all these reno's my clay just got away from me. The good thing is that it is moist and workable.

 

But yeah, you are 100% right. If you don't store it right, it dries out.

 

I guess my question was is there anything beyond vinegar that I can add to increase mold? Do any of you have any secret mold growing tips that I do not know?? Do I need mold for increased plasticity. Is this a myth that mold makes for better throwing body?

 

I remember working as an apprentice for a local potter in Toronto. He also ran classes. He let me use all the scrap clay. Know I would scrounge through these big heaps of clay on the floor that he kept and would recycle this clay. It would not be unusual for me to find sponges and things with circles around them where I am guessing mold was growing. In retrospect, it is a wonder I didn't get some kind of bug from this heap.

 

Anyway, what have I learned. Water and proper storage. Fundamental.

 

Thank you to all who responded. I really appreciate this forum. It has helped me immensely.

 

Nelly

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I have to write this ...

The clay you spend your time recycling is the MOST EXPENSIVE clay you will ever use. Using your high priced time to process clay instead of making pots ramps up the costs ... It does not save you money. It wastes your talented time.

 

Before you object, consider this.

There is nothing in your studio that costs more than your time. Our raw materials are (pardon the pun ) dirt cheap.

You are the talent. If you are not making work, no work is being made. If no work is being made, no income is being generated.

So you have to start putting a dollar value on your time and make valid decisions on how best these $$ hours should be spent.

$pending days recreating a material that costs pennies a pound is not a good way. $pending days trying to make the product as good as the one you can easily purchase from companies who do actual quality control and consistency testing is not the best use of your time or your body.

Yes, all this hauling and lifting is not easy on a body you are going to need for many years in order to make your living.

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I have to write this ...

The clay you spend your time recycling is the MOST EXPENSIVE clay you will ever use. Using your high priced time to process clay instead of making pots ramps up the costs ... It does not save you money. It wastes your talented time.

 

Before you object, consider this.

There is nothing in your studio that costs more than your time. Our raw materials are (pardon the pun ) dirt cheap.

You are the talent. If you are not making work, no work is being made. If no work is being made, no income is being generated.

So you have to start putting a dollar value on your time and make valid decisions on how best these $$ hours should be spent.

$pending days recreating a material that costs pennies a pound is not a good way. $pending days trying to make the product as good as the one you can easily purchase from companies who do actual quality control and consistency testing is not the best use of your time or your body.

Yes, all this hauling and lifting is not easy on a body you are going to need for many years in order to make your living.

 

 

Good points but

 

 

We're do u throw ur old clay I and others might want it.

 

Now back to the questions

 

As I stated get som natural occurring clay and do the same pillow case thing but save the water.

 

A gel will grow.......it will help your clay.

 

A bear from the fridg will speed it up.

 

Some urin with amonia will help too. Old school

 

Vinager too.

 

An water from a river not a clear creek but river.......notic all the flood damage houses on news an the mold growing in walls

 

Rain water

 

 

A I'm done sorry carried away

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I have to write this ...

The clay you spend your time recycling is the MOST EXPENSIVE clay you will ever use. Using your high priced time to process clay instead of making pots ramps up the costs ... It does not save you money. It wastes your talented time.

 

Before you object, consider this.

There is nothing in your studio that costs more than your time. Our raw materials are (pardon the pun ) dirt cheap.

You are the talent. If you are not making work, no work is being made. If no work is being made, no income is being generated.

So you have to start putting a dollar value on your time and make valid decisions on how best these $ hours should be spent.

$pending days recreating a material that costs pennies a pound is not a good way. $pending days trying to make the product as good as the one you can easily purchase from companies who do actual quality control and consistency testing is not the best use of your time or your body.

Yes, all this hauling and lifting is not easy on a body you are going to need for many years in order to make your living.

 

 

Good points but

 

 

We're do u throw ur old clay I and others might want it.

 

Now back to the questions

 

As I stated get som natural occurring clay and do the same pillow case thing but save the water.

 

A gel will grow.......it will help your clay.

 

A bear from the fridg will speed it up.

 

Some urin with amonia will help too. Old school

 

Vinager too.

 

An water from a river not a clear creek but river.......notic all the flood damage houses on news an the mold growing in walls

 

Rain water

 

 

A I'm done sorry carried away

 

 

No, this is exactly what I am looking for in terms of the answers. I have heard about urine. Never heard about beer. I am guessing you are saying beer and not bear. I do have rain water in a barrel. Have you had experience with it improving throwing?

 

Nelly

 

BTW-it is okay to bring up the comments about not saving scraps. I have heard a lot of professional potters simply do not have this time. I am not professional. I am just a happy hobby potter. I save it for no particular reason except that that was what I was taught to do so long ago. Thank you for the advice though. Perhaps when I get going this summer, I will take your advice on just using the clay straight-up. I am off now for three months so plan to really get going in the studio. Thank you all for your comments.

 

Nelly

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Ya I can't spell

Beer

Take a look at equaraum start ups

Bacteria eats da amonia an turns it to something else then a nother one turns it to something else again.

So it Stan's to reason them pet stores got a liquid that speeds this up

Anything u can do to get the platelets separated and dem Bugs are efficient.

 

Natural clay water will have all u really need in it but if the clay is so bad then add what u can.

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If you have some clay that's already got some mold growing on it, you can pinch off a bit and put it into the bags of your newer clay to help inoculate it so that it will 'age' faster.

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Nelly;

Chris has some valid points about time spent processing clay.

I process my scraps all the time and never have piles of dry clay sitting around taking up valuable space which you are heating and paying rent on.

Reason 1. I like the clay better if I process it. I am a thrower, and I find the clay from the box gets really hard very quickly.

Reason 2. As I was trying to explain above, it takes very little time for me to do it.

Not everyone works like I do. I know lots of potters who toss their trimmings.Those bone dry trimmings slake down into the best clay.

To each his own, I guess.

If the clay is aged well. it will develop black mold. You don't have to put additives. It will do it on it's owm.

TJR.

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If you have some clay that's already got some mold growing on it, you can pinch off a bit and put it into the bags of your newer clay to help inoculate it so that it will 'age' faster.

 

 

That's a great idea. I am pretty sure when I open these bags there will be tell tale signs of mold. I think these signs are rings in the clay and a distinct strong odor. Good point. This I can do as well.

 

Nelly

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One sure way to get the mold going is to use natural sponges for throwing and cleaning ware. Use cellulose sponges for clean up; and cotton towels for wiping off your hands. Rinse them in your clay throwing water. Use that water for recycling dried trimmings. Wedge it up and place the wedged clay in a plastic bag. You will have a colony in a few days.

 

I recommend using the clay up as soon as possible unless you don’t mind the smell of ‘rotten eggs’ and seeing the discoloration of your clay. If you continue that system you will never be without a ‘starter colony’.

 

Yes I recycle after every work session. I waste no clay.

 

 

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Rat dog ... For those like you who dig their own clay, it makes total sense to recycle and use it all. When you consider the amount of time it takes you to dig it, clean it and process it ... You would be crazy to waste a speck of it once it is smooth and ready to go. After all, if you want more you have a lot of heavy work to do ... Can't just pick up the phone and order it. :)

I use almost 100% of mine because of the time, money and labor involved in custom coloring it. When it gets to a point of ugh! ugly color I turn it into black slip which I always need a lot of.

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Rat dog ... For those like you who dig their own clay, it makes total sense to recycle and use it all. When you consider the amount of time it takes you to dig it, clean it and process it ... You would be crazy to waste a speck of it once it is smooth and ready to go. After all, if you want more you have a lot of heavy work to do ... Can't just pick up the phone and order it. :)

I use almost 100% of mine because of the time, money and labor involved in custom coloring it. When it gets to a point of ugh! ugly color I turn it into black slip which I always need a lot of.

 

 

 

Dear All,

 

I was just thinking about why I rarely smell that odor you suggest comes in a slop bucket not changed frequently. I was just in my studio and it dawned on me that: 1) I do not use elephant ear sponges or natural sponges in my throwing process (I have them but I just don't use them) and 2) after being a member of a cooperative or taking classes for so long I have learned to always clean up behind myself. Thus, an individual slop bucket on my wheel sitting for a few days has never been an option. It is now. So these too are points well taken.

 

Nelly

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. . . I'm sure you've gotten a bag of clay that the manufacturer seemed to have made the day before . . . very soft, wet, and impossible to throw . . . and had to put it aside to "age".

 

 

For a clay to work it's best, each particle must be surrounded by water. The mold and such helps compensate for the lack of plasticity caused by the tiny air pockets. Think of tiny strings of mold strung through the clay, binding the particles together. Letting clay age is not only for building up organic matter that helps bind particles together, but to let the water thoroughly wet the clay, working into every crevice between the clay particles. This takes a long time when left to nature. De-Airing pugmills do this instantly. A good commercial de-aired clay will not need to be aged. The de-airing has a far greater affect on the workability of the clay than the mold does. If it was too wet and unworkable when you bought it, it's because they put in too much water. If the vacuum on their pug mill wasn't working, the clay would not be too soft or wet, just full of tiny air bubbles. Letting it sit for a while lets it dry out a little bit.

 

As for recycling, it's a waste of time for anyone trying to profit from making pots. Your time at the wheel is worth far more than the cost of the recycled clay.

 

If you do recycle, I recommend keeping a big ol' slop bucket that's nice and wet. You'll be growing plenty of mold in that sludgy environment, and your clay particles will be well wetted. When you dry it out and wedge it, great clay.

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. . . I'm sure you've gotten a bag of clay that the manufacturer seemed to have made the day before . . . very soft, wet, and impossible to throw . . . and had to put it aside to "age".

 

 

For a clay to work it's best, each particle must be surrounded by water. The mold and such helps compensate for the lack of plasticity caused by the tiny air pockets. Think of tiny strings of mold strung through the clay, binding the particles together. Letting clay age is not only for building up organic matter that helps bind particles together, but to let the water thoroughly wet the clay, working into every crevice between the clay particles. This takes a long time when left to nature. De-Airing pugmills do this instantly. A good commercial de-aired clay will not need to be aged. The de-airing has a far greater affect on the workability of the clay than the mold does. If it was too wet and unworkable when you bought it, it's because they put in too much water. If the vacuum on their pug mill wasn't working, the clay would not be too soft or wet, just full of tiny air bubbles. Letting it sit for a while lets it dry out a little bit.

 

As for recycling, it's a waste of time for anyone trying to profit from making pots. Your time at the wheel is worth far more than the cost of the recycled clay.

 

If you do recycle, I recommend keeping a big ol' slop bucket that's nice and wet. You'll be growing plenty of mold in that sludgy environment, and your clay particles will be well wetted. When you dry it out and wedge it, great clay.

 

 

Ya! To da pugger

I do this but I find if I allow a day after plugging then repug it comes out better.

Sorry but not instant.

Unless clay has been sitting for a while.or been pugged before. Like da bags o clay from mile high.

Don't get stuff from them anymore Can't afford it

 

Try pugging with a rest period of 24 hrs u won't regret it.

An slow down enjoy things .......having no time will kill u an ruin ur relationships.........recycle a little clay

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Clay is only as cheap as the shipping cost.

 

 

True, but if you're smart about it, even with shipping clay is pretty darn cheap. Just gotta order enough to make it worthwhile, or buy local. We're kind of spoiled here in Chicago because we have 3 suppliers within an hour of each other. But even ordering from Laguna's Ohio plant is generally less than $100 a pallet for shipping.

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Ya! To da pugger

I do this but I find if I allow a day after plugging then repug it comes out better.

Sorry but not instant.

Unless clay has been sitting for a while.or been pugged before. Like da bags o clay from mile high.

Don't get stuff from them anymore Can't afford it

 

Try pugging with a rest period of 24 hrs u won't regret it.

 

 

The vacuum on a commercial pug mill is much stronger than those on studio models, so they de-air much better.

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. . . I'm sure you've gotten a bag of clay that the manufacturer seemed to have made the day before . . . very soft, wet, and impossible to throw . . . and had to put it aside to "age".

 

 

For a clay to work it's best, each particle must be surrounded by water. The mold and such helps compensate for the lack of plasticity caused by the tiny air pockets. Think of tiny strings of mold strung through the clay, binding the particles together. Letting clay age is not only for building up organic matter that helps bind particles together, but to let the water thoroughly wet the clay, working into every crevice between the clay particles. This takes a long time when left to nature. De-Airing pugmills do this instantly. A good commercial de-aired clay will not need to be aged. The de-airing has a far greater affect on the workability of the clay than the mold does. If it was too wet and unworkable when you bought it, it's because they put in too much water. If the vacuum on their pug mill wasn't working, the clay would not be too soft or wet, just full of tiny air bubbles. Letting it sit for a while lets it dry out a little bit.

 

As for recycling, it's a waste of time for anyone trying to profit from making pots. Your time at the wheel is worth far more than the cost of the recycled clay.

 

If you do recycle, I recommend keeping a big ol' slop bucket that's nice and wet. You'll be growing plenty of mold in that sludgy environment, and your clay particles will be well wetted. When you dry it out and wedge it, great clay.

 

 

Dear Neil,

 

Thank you. While my slop pail is empty right now after my latest dump and placement in the old pillow case-your suggestion is exactly what I plan to do. Given that I am a hobby potter, I probably will recycle. Wedging is good for me. I don't do it long enough and I know with the recycled stuff that this is an absolute must. I have, however, taken to opening a bag a new clay and placing it beside the wheel. It is de-aired clay that I have purchased from Tuckers. I then cut off the chunks, have my weigh scale close by and simply make balls and throw. It works without the arduous wedging. But I do most definitely wedge the clay I recycle at least a 100 times as per Simon Leaches suggestion. Some would argue that you should do this with all clay--de-aired or not. But I am finding that I can take it out of the bag and just slice it from the top into squares and then take these and form them into balls without leaving the wheel. I cone up a few times and it seems to work. I hope people aren't gasping out there and saying I should be wedging but it does work with new clay for me. At least that is what I am finding right now.

 

Nelly

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