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How Bring My Reclaim Back To Life

reclaim recycled clay

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#1 Chris Throws Pots

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 02:08 PM

Hi All,

 

The studio where I work collects everyone's throwing slop in large garbage barrels to reclaim into clay for youth programming and drop-ins. The clay is feeling like it's met its limit in terms of reclaim cycles and the kids are finding the clay impossible to work with. The clay is very fibrous, tears easily and lacks elasticity. 

 

I'm thinking about adding dry ball clay and vinegar to the mother barrels to bring the dead clay back to life. Will this work? Is it worth my time? How much of each to add? Should I add something different? 

 

I'm fearful that mixing in ball clay will throw the chemical composition way off and will leave us with clay that doesn't fit our glazes. The current reclaim is a mix of four ^6 Laguna bodies (90, 66, 55 and 16) and lots of the cyclically recyled clay.

 

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

 

Chris


Christopher Vaughn Pottery
Functional stoneware forms
handcrafted in Burlington, Vermont

 

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#2 neilestrick

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 03:20 PM

Frugality is generally a good thing, but at some point you just need to buy some clay. If this place is a real business, you need to price the drop-ins and kids classes accordingly to cover the cost of the clay. My kids classes always get new clay out of the box, just like me. In a 90 minute wheel throwing class they'll use about 5 pounds, or $2 worth of clay each. So if you figure out the cost of labor to reclaim the slop for their use, you're probably coming out way behind by not using new clay.


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#3 Pres

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 04:10 PM

I was one to recycle from year to year. My HS budget just did not allow for enough clay for my classes without recycling. So we pugged during the year, and mixed in fresh used clay with the older stuff. Thowing slop and old cheese to leather hard pots got pugged together. At the end of the year I would pug up all but maybe one barrel of the slop. My filled barrels of freshly pugged clay got several damp rags over top, and a tight fitting lid. In the Fall, we started out with new clay from boxes, and gradually worked in the recycled clay. Kept the program going.


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#4 Chris Throws Pots

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 04:26 PM

Thanks Norm, Neil and Pres.

 

I just bagged and pitched about 90 gallons of thick slaking slop and another couple hundred pounds of terrible fiborous clay that we recently pugged... and wasted our time doing so.

 

The clay was so worked from repeated reclaiming (probably 2 years since we've started fresh) and I was not inclined to spend a lot of time testing and tweaking additions of ball clay and vinegar when clay is so cheap. The reclaim starts from slop and scraps from fresh clay we've already sold, so any exta use is a bonus.

 

That said, we'll continue to reclaim clay for use in youth programming and drop-ins. Recently an independent ceramicist donated a few hundred pounds of trimming scraps to the studio, so I started new barrels of reclaim slop with these. Where this clay has never been reclaimed it should start us with a good fresh batch and give us some nice plastic clay.

 

Thanks for confirming what I was secretly hoping the answer would be.

 

C


Christopher Vaughn Pottery
Functional stoneware forms
handcrafted in Burlington, Vermont

 

www.ChrisThrowsPots.com

 

On Instagram @chris_throws_pots
 

 

 

 


#5 clay lover

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 08:44 PM

Educate me here, guys. Does clay get tired? why does repeat reclaiming make a clay bad to use?

#6 Chris Throws Pots

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 09:25 PM

After cycling through the process so many times, the clay loses much of its plasticity/elasticity. In the case of my reclaiming dilemma, much of the creamy clay has been washed down the drain and the grog is left in the slop bucket. The lugged clay becomes fiberous and short... very grainy. Not enough stretch for throwing, not enough body for handbuilding or sculpting.

Christopher Vaughn Pottery
Functional stoneware forms
handcrafted in Burlington, Vermont

 

www.ChrisThrowsPots.com

 

On Instagram @chris_throws_pots
 

 

 

 


#7 Mark C.

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 02:56 AM

When I'm in a busy work mode I toss three 5 gallon buckets a week out of porcelain trimmings after messing with it for many years its not worth my time anymore. I'm frugel with other things like my time.

Mark


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#8 Davidpotter

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 01:39 AM

my HS also reclaims a lot of clay. i find that its getting to this point right now but soon we will probably use it up and eventually new clay will go in as fast as old clay goes out. the cycle continues.... I find that the more fibrous clay can still be used for small cups if your careful not to stretch it too much or pull it too hard. for bigger and taller pieces i refuse to use the recycled clay since i'm putting around 4 hours into a 3 foot tall vase that i want to be perfect. i recently retried the 12 inch club challenge with recycled clay and after my 3rd pull the clay was so cracked that it looked more like some one finely tore up wet paper and pressed it into a cylinder shape. i also don't like using the recycled clay because i often fined tools chopped up in it, sponges, ribs, trimming tools and yes..... need tools.... you definitely can feel those while throwing....

we also have settling buckets so we don't plug our pipes, the original intention was to use the clay from them as slip, but we stopped after we saw low fire glazes leaking out of attachment places after bisque


Practice, practice, practice. Then when you think you've practiced enough, the real practice begins.

#9 nancylee

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 06:33 AM

Hi,
I use my old clay to shore up the hillside my art cottage is built on! I need a lot more if anyone in upstate NY has some!

Seriously, I understand budget constraints, as Pres said, but if you are at a nonprofit or volunteer place for kids, you may be able to find grants to help purchase new clay. Seems like a good thing - using pottery to keep kids occupied. If you need help, let me know, because I do freelance writing, and am expanding into grant writing,
Best,
nancy
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#10 Chris Throws Pots

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 10:41 AM

Hi Nancy,

 

Thanks for your kind offer. The organization I work for has a dedicated development department that already does a significant amount of grant writing and fundraising. In addition to the clay studio, we have community printing, photo and digital media studios that offer monthly rental and classes like the clay studio, a painting studio, several contemporary art galleries and an art sales and leasing program. Some of these programs generate a significant amount of revenue while others are supported by the successes of the stronger programs. We are a division of the City of Burlington, Vermont and also hold federal non-profit status. The city supports us through administrative costs like payroll and employee benefits and through providing us the space to exist, but we are responsible for a little over 80% of our annual budget. Check us out online at www.BurlingtonCityArts.com, and if you're ever in Burlington, Vermont stop in and say hi!

 

My initial question about bringing the clay back to life had much more to do with effort than dollars. I'm not suggesting being wasteful or that we don't have a budget to stick to, but at the point the clay is "dead" we've already sold it to our patrons at least once (in the form of fresh, bagged Laguna clay), if not several times (as reclaim). If there was an easy solution like adding some ball clay, I would have gone that route. But given the testing required for essentially making a new clay body would have been far more expensive and time consuming than just starting fresh.

 

We slaked down about 500lbs of trimming scraps (thrown only once) last week and pugged the first of it this past weekend. Our afterschool instructors have been very happy this week, as the clay is elastic and the kids are having success on the wheels. Sometimes a fresh start is in order.


Christopher Vaughn Pottery
Functional stoneware forms
handcrafted in Burlington, Vermont

 

www.ChrisThrowsPots.com

 

On Instagram @chris_throws_pots
 

 

 

 


#11 nancylee

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 11:02 AM

Ah, Burlington! One of my favorite cities in the world. I would move there when I retire, but my kids are all setting in NYC, so I am going to move further back down that way in a few years. 

 

I will stop by next time I am in town, which is once a season, at least. They have a great shop there that sells local Vermont artisan work - my friend sells her jewelry there. Is it Frog Hollow? The name escapes me.

 

Best,

Nancy


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Northern Woods Pottery
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#12 Chris Throws Pots

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 11:39 AM

Nancy,

 

The name hasn't escaped you... it is Frog Hollow. They have some great work in there, including pots made by some close friends of mine. The BCA studio used to be called Frog Hollow, as did the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury and Middlebury Clay and Craft; it was a wheel with 4 spokes. When Frog Hollow consolidated to just their gallery on Church Street, the City of Burlignton stepped in to make sure the clay studio remained a resource for the community. Pretty awesome!

 

BCA's galleries, darkroom and digital media lab are about a block down Church Street from Frog Hollow. The clay and print studios are two blocks away, on the corner of Main and South Union.


Christopher Vaughn Pottery
Functional stoneware forms
handcrafted in Burlington, Vermont

 

www.ChrisThrowsPots.com

 

On Instagram @chris_throws_pots
 

 

 

 


#13 Rebekah Krieger

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 09:12 AM

Since i do not do production pottery yet, just about 25# of clay per week, I re wedge up any scraps but I ditch the slop out in my backyard.  I have re claimed slop and trimming scraps but decided it was too much work. (plus, the slop bucket stinks up my basement to high heaven!) 


Learning On my Kick wheel with my vintage Paragon (from the late 1960's)

#14 Pres

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 04:19 PM

I recycle, but then again I really don't have any backyard or front, or side yard. Blessings sometimes, but a little grass would be nice.


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


#15 atanzey

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 07:09 PM

I've been thinking about this for a long time - a good many people mention throwing their scrap in the back yard.  Please be aware that runoff from clay, when it enters any waterway or storm drain, would be a pollutant.  Not because of toxic materials, but because of the turbidity it causes.  So, if your yard drains to any waterway without treatment (like a stormwater pond), please don't.  At certain times of the year, the turbidity impedes the development of some of the critters that keep our streams healthy.  Likewise, if it ends up in a bay, it's a bad thing.

 

Alice



#16 Mark C.

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 11:35 PM

You said-

(reclaim into clay for youth programming and drop-ins.)

I would call it clay torture-non plastic hell in a bag-This should motivate those youngins to like clay work.

This may be causing more harm than good.

Mark


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www.liscomhillpottery.com

#17 Pres

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:32 AM

In Elementary, as a kid, I really hated the clay we got right out of the bag, chalky, stiff, lifeless stuff. It wasn't until college that I found it could be something entirely different. This stuff was out of the bag out of the box, but it was horrible. I moved around a lot as a kid, and it was always the same everwhere.


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


#18 clay lover

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:16 AM

I do a clay week with the local elementary art teacher. The clay she uses is low fire Amaco, and it is without a doubt , the nastiest stuff I have ever put my hands on, and it smells like weird industrial chemicals.

#19 Davidpotter

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 01:33 AM

luckily my town is well know for its ceramics and we have good options for clay. we used to get free clay from Rowe Pottery before they stopped making their own. now we get our clay from paoli clay company


Practice, practice, practice. Then when you think you've practiced enough, the real practice begins.

#20 High Bridge Pottery

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 02:26 PM

I think a lot of the recycling process is in the cure. Leaving the clay to sit for over a month will really change its character. 

 

Alas I don't have the time for that but mine gets at least a week to relax around the studio before it gets used.






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