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Clay Scraps Question...

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Is it okay to throw scraps into a bucket of water until there is enough to re-wedge?  Or is it necessary to let it completely dry out before adding water?  Will it cause bacteria growth if clay is kept in water?

Thanks.

 

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I find if you dry it first, the water is absorbed much faster and it breaks down easier. I add the water to a bucket of dried clay with the larger lumps hammered smaller.

It will soak for a few days. I have a good stirrer on my drill and also a mixer if I ned it  on a 1/4 horse power motor. When the clay seems homogenous, I put it on a plaster slab to dry out until ready to wedge.

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Marcia correct... dry it out first bust it up with a hammer in a cloth bag and throw it into a pail of water. Non dried clay takes more time to absorb water then bone dry.

 

ALWAYS !!! re-screen the slip  before you dry down and wedge. You would be amazed at what gets in your scrap glaze bucket.

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I've done what you are doing. But 5 gal bucket without water. I'd throw in daily trim,scraps, leather hard culls, if it looked dry I'd spray on water, but remnants from splash pan usually kept even if not wet consistiency. I'd keep at damp rag on it all times and covered. I'd Never let get much more than 1/2 bucket, before I start preliminary wedging, if too wet it sat out or on plaster wedging table. If too dry it stayed in bucket longer

 

Now I throw all scrap trim slop in a bucket. Mix with drill mounted. Paint stirer Then strain. Then i use this slurry as part of liquid percentage to a dry clay mix recipe. This bucket can get a bit funky depending on how long between clay making sessions.

 

Unsure why, or if necessary to actively dry scrap? Enlighten me please.

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I keep my scraps as damp as possible and rewedge them asap.  When I cut out slabs, the trimmings go onto a plastic placemat and get sprayed with water ,then covered with plastic.  At the end of the work day, I spray the pile again and wrap in plastic overnight.  Sometimes I rewedge them then, or dump the soft leather hard scraps into the pugger.  It seals and stays damp until full. 

 

I find letting scraps dry out to be WAY much more work than I want to tackle at one time, so a bit at a time works better for me.

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I have a two gallon bucket that I put a plastic trash liner in. As I throw or trim, scrub from throwing, trimmings and odds and ends are added to the bucket. When full, this gets twisted up, turned upside down and left to sit for about a week. Then it gets either wedged on its own, or wedged into stiffer or softer clay. This depending all on its consistency. Then once wedged rebagged, and stored for a month. Have been doing it this way for years, and it is great. In the winter, will take the bag of wet stuff out to freeze, then bring it back in, let it thaw over a bucket so that the water driven out by freezing runs off. This can then be wedged quite well.

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I have reused clay scraps by both drying, then rewetting, or just keeping scrap moist then re-wedging. It really depends on the look and feel you are going for in the finished piece. Reconstituting from dry usually results in a smother mix because the water is evenly distributed. Re-wedging moist scrape by hand may result in a lumper, inconsistent mix because the water is not evenly distributed.

 

As for bacteria and fungus - yes, both will be growing in your moist clay scraps. You really can't avoid it. If you live in a cooler climate the growth will be slower. In the warm sunny south, it can get pretty funky. Make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date.

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I have also done the dry and wet reclaim methods, but I've pretty much adopted the system Pres is using, by keeping it in separate buckets w/bags and age it.  For throwing clay specifically, I like to NOT dry it out and keep it moist - this is to keep the bacteria and plasticity alive.  If you dry out the clay you basically lose the bacteria colony and it has to start over once it gets wet again = less plasticity.  Sure there is some immediate plasticity in most throwing clays because they include plasticizers, but compared to aged clay with bacteria excreting acetic acid there is a noticeable difference (at least to me). For sculpture clay it doesn't really matter how much plasticity the clay has because I'd be hand building.  

 

I think it comes down to how fast you want to use the reclaimed clay.  So just remember that dry clay absorbs water and slakes down the fastest.  Keeping it wet may take longer to absorb water, but it will tend to have more plasticity.

 

Good luck!

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I always found making clay from slip makes it more plastic than making clay from powder in a mixer. The process known as blunging presses excess water from slip into a ready consistency. I would have to say i don't think recycled clay is necessarily less plastic. It could depend on the clay, but I prefer making a clay from slip and drying it back to a working consistency.

 

Marcia

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I have always found that the bacteria in the clay makes it work better, so I really don't want to dry it out. Yes it does grow plenty of earthy smelling bacteria.

 

On throwing with the bacteria in the clay, maybe I am immune, but cuts seem to heal better when throwing. Thinking back I heard something years ago about wounded animals going to a clay/mud bank and rolling/laying in the mud for a day or two to heal. Might be an old wives tale.

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I saw a clay reclaiming video where the person said they added vinegar to the slop to cut down on bacterial growth and to aid plasticity. This was immediately prior to blending and draining the slop to reclaim it. Is there anything to this claim?

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Mmmmm. Vinegar is a flocculant, so it should keep everything in the clay slurry suspended, and as it gets to workable hardness, the clay plates line up nicely, helping plasticity. The normal bacteria might kind of do the same thing as they metabolize and do their thing. Adding the vinegar discourages those bacteria that don't like that acidic condition, but encourages acid lovers. Just the way bacteria roll.

 

Pres's comment on immunity might have some merit. It's also possible that the stuff growing in the clay has an inhibitory effect on the pathogens, an hypothesis anyway.

Stellaria likes this

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I as pres believe that working with clay heals wounds faster

I know for me minor cuts heal fast with clay in skin.

If the wound is deep than this is not true as water slows the healing down.

When I had 3 wrist bones cut out 2 years ago I had to keep it dry almost one month.

This is also true with ocean salt water

That helps minor wounds heal faster as well I have found in my years in the sea.

But with deeper larger wounds it also slows the healing down .

For me this is fact not wives tales but your truths may vary.

I seem to have cut hands a lot and now as I am older my skin is thinner and cuts more easily especially on backs of hands.

Something you younger potters will come to later in life.

Mark

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I have always found that the bacteria in the clay makes it work better, so I really don't want to dry it out. Yes it does grow plenty of earthy smelling bacteria.

 

On throwing with the bacteria in the clay, maybe I am immune, but cuts seem to heal better when throwing. Thinking back I heard something years ago about wounded animals going to a clay/mud bank and rolling/laying in the mud for a day or two to heal. Might be an old wives tail.

My recycled scraps after wetting them can get stinky in a short time. I think the bacteria is back after rewetted.

Marcia

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Thinking back I heard something years ago about wounded animals going to a clay/mud bank and rolling/laying in the mud for a day or two to heal. Might be an old wives tail.

Mud also hides your heat signature from extraterrestrial hunters.

Nancy S. and OKpotter like this

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