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Isculpt

How Best To Dry Reclaimed Dried Clay After It Has Been Processed Into Wet Clay

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Isculpt    96

The humidity here is a solid 98% unless it's a 100%, so I'm having trouble getting reprocessed clay to dry into useable form.  I have two five-gallon buckets full of dry clay scraps and I want to turn it into paper clay. I don't mind the pulverizing, and then soaking the clay bits and adding wet shredded tissue paper, and then mixing it all with a mortar attachment on my drill -- but then trying to get it to dry is maddening. 

 

In the past, I've used 2x4 sheetrock slabs covered with cotton fabric (to keep the sheetrock paper from loosening and sticking to my clay).  I lay those on sawhorses set up on my back porch with a ceiling fan running constantly.  The clay is poured out and smoothed to about 3/8".  But then I spend a couple weeks trying to manuever past all those clay-covered sheetrock slabs on my porch while insects get stuck in the damp clay!  Is there a better way??  I read last week about pouring clay into an old pair of jeans, but I wasn't sure if that was serious or not!  I've read that people are now allowing homemade paperclay to dry into sheets for easier storing and then rehydrating and wedging as needed.  I don't see that EVER happening at this humidity level, but I'd be happy to be able to achieve workable clay in a reasonable amount of time. Bringing the sawhorses and clay into my studio is doable, but the humidity there isn't much better!  Any ideas???  

 

Jayne

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I use thick slabs of plaster. My paper clay is usually ready in a day or 2 depending on whether I am running the air conditioner (deep south Texas I don't have a heater).  Drying paper clay in sheets has been a common practice for decades. It keeps the paper from rotting and stinking. The dry sheet reconstitutes quickly with a damp towel around it.

 

 

Marcia

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CindyD.    2

Jayne,
My friend, potter Andrew Stephenson, lives in NC (also humid this summer with almost daily rains).
Here's how he makes a ton of clay at a time (no major equipment). The part after the mixing is what I wanted to show you in answer how he gets from slurry to clay. It is a great way to reclaim clay, too.

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Pres    896

When I have trouble drying slop, I will hang it in an old pillow case out in the air. On a windy day it will dry out in a couple of hours.

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enbarro    2

CindyD., where is the explanation on how your friend does it? I can't see the link. I'm always looking for a better way to get this done...

 

Thanks.

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Isculpt    96

Marcia, I don't have thick slabs of plaster (or a place for them) but maybe I need to explore that further.  I've seen/read here and elsewhere about making plaster slabs.  My impression of them is that they are exceedingly heavy, permanent, wood-frame enclosed structures.  Is that accurate?  Or is there such a thing as a thinner "portable" plaster slab? 

 

Thanks for the video CindyD.  I've always wondered how clay was made, and although I use such small quantities that I won't be buying big bags of stuff to make my own clay, it's nice to know how to do it. Using his screen method, if your friend can dry a 4" deep trough of slurry in four weeks, I should be able to dry 1/2" bed of thicker slurry in a week, surely.  My husband, who digs his own clay and makes very small batches, has some wood frames with screen bottoms that I'll try.  It didn't seem that his clay slurry was getting dry any faster than my slurry poured out on sheetrock, but maybe I need to give it another go.

 

Pres, if it didn't rain here almost daily, I'd sure try the pillowcase idea, and

 

BigLou, what in the world is a Rootmaker pot?   

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

Yes Jayne, thick plaster slabs are not easily movable. I use mine often enough that I don't mind.I have three thick slabs. I over them with a rubber floor matt to keep it from getting dinged. I use them as table tops with the shop is filling up with works in progress. I built wooden frames and cast the paster on top of plexiglass. This gives a really nice surface and no need to use a separator. Plaster won't stick to plexi glass. This is also a great way to make smaller plaster slabs for image transfer that are perfectly smooth. I can pour out half a 5 gallon bucket on one slab.

 

Marcia

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neilestrick    1,381

You can also use a cement floor, like in a utility room, instead of plaster. That's what my students do. Investing in a dehumidifier to dry out the room might be worthwhile.

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I use Hardiboard. Great drying platform that can be easily put aside and out of the way when not in use. I lay the board on a couple of 2x4s. It is wet here in the PNW but this does the job.

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NanetteV    0

Yep, I use jeans - legs only. Sew the cut off end to make a bag, partially fill with wet clay, and fold over the other end: no clay squishing out. My studio has a concrete floor, so the jean bag gets moved around on that floor, flipped over, and lightly wedged with my feet. It can take days to dry in high humidity, but the bag is durable and movable. One key to clay recycling is not to get too much accumulated. To that end, I use a plastic bag from store bought clay, put that in a smallish bucket and when that is filled with reprocessed clay it gets the jean treatment. The plastic bag makes transfer to the jeans easy.

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What kind of screen was he using?

 

That idea looks cool, I am imagining a smaller stack that could be a great way to dry clay. Maybe even incorporate some plaster into the design in the moulds.

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The plaster doesn't have to be that big. I use 3 slabs, roughly 4" thick that are about 2' square. This way I can store them on their sides when not in use. I will say it's a bit fussy to have to refill them, but my space is limited at the moment. And I find that plaster, once saturated, doesn't contribute much to drying: it's more the air exposure that dries everything out. But I also live in a very dry climate. I tend to have problems with rapid drying.

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Isculpt    96

Thanks all.

 

That's a great idea, NanetteV - keeping the quantity manageable and having a tube filled with clay that I can place on my cement porch and wedge with my feet as it dries. (Now if I can just keep the dog from peeing on it to mark it as his!) 

 

Marcia, I love the idea of the plexiglass. Like High bridge Pottery, I'm thinking of incorporating plaster into the stackable wire boxes.  If I place plexiglass into the bottom of the wire box, how do I keep the plaster from sticking to the sides of the wood box frame so that I can remove the plaster and flip it over to the smooth side? 

 

Chris, I never thought of hardiboard or hardibacker.  I thought of that product as water resistant since it is used as a tile underlayment but since it is 90% cement, maybe I've got it wrong. And Neil did mention using a cement floor, which I no longer have, thanks to laying tile over my studio's uneven cement floor, but maybe I should give a dehumidifier another shot.  I bought a large 50-pint one last year, and found myself dumping water at least twice a day.  But the reason I returned it to the store was that it produced so much heat and noise that I just couldn't stand having it in my small studio.

 

Do I remember from previous posts that I need a special plaster to make a strong surface or can i use the plaster powder that comes in a tub from hobby stores? Recommended minimum thickness?

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neilestrick    1,381

You can attach a drain hose to most dehumidifiers so you don't have to empty it. But yes, they do put out some heat.

 

Best to buy plaster from your clay supplier, as they will have it in large quantities (50lb bag), and it will probably be cheaper than from the hobby store. #1 Pottery Plaster will work great.

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Biglou13    202

Hi, what's the logic for using root pots?

You get more air circulation. Top, bottom and sides. Original suggestion was to dry clay in old pillow cases, in terra cotta pots. I had some of these and they work great.

 

For drying slab I thik 2.5 inch is minimum, along with reinforcing mesh, I used old window screen. And the 2x2 ideal for portability and storage?

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

when I was in upstate NY in 1971, I mixed slurry then dried it to workable consistency in flower pots. I did this daily, first thing in the morning. I was a caretaker at an estate that had flower pots in an old green house.

 

Marcia

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enbarro    2

Thanks Biglou.

 

The window screen type mesh goes at the bottom of the plaster slab or at the middle. I was thinking framing a 2' x 2' plywood and pour the plaster 3" high so its easier to move... would the mesh still be needed?

 

I wedge clay on plywood covered with canvas. If I go with the pillow/flowerpot method, could I go straight to the canvas to wedge or do I still need the plaster slab to dry the clay some more?

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Biglou13    202

i rush my clay a bit so it goes from pot to plaster slab

 

if im patient it goes from flower pot to wedging board.

 

(i recently forgot let some clay dry too much, in air pots  and im process of recv\overing that :(  )

 

mesh goes in middle of plaster pour 1.5 inch and screen then pour 1.5 inch   mesh is stiffner and helps keep it from cracking

 

a easy wedging board is plywood then drywall then canvas.  

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joshur    4

Here in the Pacific NW, there  are lots of times it is so cool and damp that things will never dry. I built a cabinet around a set of wire shelves, and place a dehumidifier and a circulating fan in it along with my clay items. Works very well but has to have a small heater as well if it gets below about 65 degrees in the cabinet for the dehumidifier to work, it works so well I have to keep a close eye on it so it does not over dry things. I also use it for drying fruit and vegtables etc.

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123pop    2

I use those canvas bags that they give for freebies at so many functions.  They come in all sizes and have handles.  Hang outside and in a few days the clay just peels off the canvas.  I let it dry enough then  wedge and wedge and wedge...you know the drill.

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