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Recycling Clay

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I'm a high school ceramics teacher with some "clay recycling" problems and am looking for some advice. Currently, this is how I recycle our clay (a low-fire red).

 

- I start by drying out any scrap clay completely in small pieces... sometimes using a mallet to break down larger chunks. (dry clay seems to be less "germy" and slakes better)

- I place the clay in a large bucket and fill with water until the water line is just over the dry clay.

- I wait a couple days (sometimes more) for the clay to slake down into a mush.

- Then I skim off the excess water and scoop out the soft wet mushy clay and smear it out (a couple inches thick) onto a slate table to absorb some more moisture.

- when it firms up to a soft manageable consistency, I cut it into squares it toss it into the pugmill.

- I will use the pugmill to mix the clay (varying lengths of time from 20 minutes to an hour) and de-air it before pugging it out into nice logs.

 

Some problems I have been noticing as my students work with it are "shortness", surface cracking while pinching and coiling... and an overall dissatisfaction in the quality of the clay. Unfortunately, I do not have the time or luxury to "properly age" the clay, allowing water to envelope each clay particle... there just isn't time.

 

Am I doing something wrong that is making this happen?... is it the clay I'm starting with initially (when I get it from the manufacturer, it doesn't act this way) that doesn't like to be recycled? Is there a way to age it faster (besides the old "can of beer" trick I learned in grad school)?

 

I'm at a loss... and my students... aren't liking it.

 

I would appreciate any advice.

 

Thank you

 

Keith,

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I'm a high school ceramics teacher with some "clay recycling" problems and am looking for some advice. Currently, this is how I recycle our clay (a low-fire red).

 

- I start by drying out any scrap clay completely in small pieces... sometimes using a mallet to break down larger chunks. (dry clay seems to be less "germy" and slakes better)

- I place the clay in a large bucket and fill with water until the water line is just over the dry clay.

- I wait a couple days (sometimes more) for the clay to slake down into a mush.

- Then I skim off the excess water and scoop out the soft wet mushy clay and smear it out (a couple inches thick) onto a slate table to absorb some more moisture.

- when it firms up to a soft manageable consistency, I cut it into squares it toss it into the pugmill.

- I will use the pugmill to mix the clay (varying lengths of time from 20 minutes to an hour) and de-air it before pugging it out into nice logs.

 

Some problems I have been noticing as my students work with it are "shortness", surface cracking while pinching and coiling... and an overall dissatisfaction in the quality of the clay. Unfortunately, I do not have the time or luxury to "properly age" the clay, allowing water to envelope each clay particle... there just isn't time.

 

Am I doing something wrong that is making this happen?... is it the clay I'm starting with initially (when I get it from the manufacturer, it doesn't act this way) that doesn't like to be recycled? Is there a way to age it faster (besides the old "can of beer" trick I learned in grad school)?

 

I'm at a loss... and my students... aren't liking it.

 

I would appreciate any advice.

 

Thank you

 

Keith,

 

Keith We didn't have a pugmill we had big clay mixers at WSU and we added a bag or two of dry clay to the recycled clay returning some of the plasticity to the clay that is lost in the throwing process. That might be difficult to do with a pugmill, you may have to add bagged clay in the water that your slaking the recycled clay in and then lay it out on the slate table. May be someone that uses a pugmill will have a better idea. Denice (Wichita, Ks)

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Keith,

 

I'm not sure if this is the right answer to your situation, but sometimes my pugged clay seems "short" if I pugged it when it was too dry. If I re-pug it with some wetter clay, it comes back to normal.

 

Mea

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I'm a high school ceramics teacher with some "clay recycling" problems and am looking for some advice. Currently, this is how I recycle our clay (a low-fire red).

 

- I start by drying out any scrap clay completely in small pieces... sometimes using a mallet to break down larger chunks. (dry clay seems to be less "germy" and slakes better)

- I place the clay in a large bucket and fill with water until the water line is just over the dry clay.

- I wait a couple days (sometimes more) for the clay to slake down into a mush.

- Then I skim off the excess water and scoop out the soft wet mushy clay and smear it out (a couple inches thick) onto a slate table to absorb some more moisture.

- when it firms up to a soft manageable consistency, I cut it into squares it toss it into the pugmill.

- I will use the pugmill to mix the clay (varying lengths of time from 20 minutes to an hour) and de-air it before pugging it out into nice logs.

 

Some problems I have been noticing as my students work with it are "shortness", surface cracking while pinching and coiling... and an overall dissatisfaction in the quality of the clay. Unfortunately, I do not have the time or luxury to "properly age" the clay, allowing water to envelope each clay particle... there just isn't time.

 

Am I doing something wrong that is making this happen?... is it the clay I'm starting with initially (when I get it from the manufacturer, it doesn't act this way) that doesn't like to be recycled? Is there a way to age it faster (besides the old "can of beer" trick I learned in grad school)?

 

I'm at a loss... and my students... aren't liking it.

 

I would appreciate any advice.

 

Thank you

 

Keith,

 

 

 

I recycled clay for my classes on a weekly basis. I usually would just slake the hardened pieces down, with water not quite to the top of the clay pile. After sufficiently dissolved let sit for a day or two with no lid. Then pug with clay that was cheese to leather hard. Run twice! Then fill the tubs to top, set aside and use the clay from previous pugging. Keep rotating so that clay is aged slightly before student use. At times I would add a small amount of vinegar to the clay if in a hurry to give some organic component, seemed to bring up the plasticity a bit. 1/2 cup to a 30 gal trash can while puging in a spray bottle.

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I'm a high school ceramics teacher with some "clay recycling" problems and am looking for some advice. Currently, this is how I recycle our clay (a low-fire red).

 

- I start by drying out any scrap clay completely in small pieces... sometimes using a mallet to break down larger chunks. (dry clay seems to be less "germy" and slakes better)

- I place the clay in a large bucket and fill with water until the water line is just over the dry clay.

- I wait a couple days (sometimes more) for the clay to slake down into a mush.

- Then I skim off the excess water and scoop out the soft wet mushy clay and smear it out (a couple inches thick) onto a slate table to absorb some more moisture.

- when it firms up to a soft manageable consistency, I cut it into squares it toss it into the pugmill.

- I will use the pugmill to mix the clay (varying lengths of time from 20 minutes to an hour) and de-air it before pugging it out into nice logs.

 

Some problems I have been noticing as my students work with it are "shortness", surface cracking while pinching and coiling... and an overall dissatisfaction in the quality of the clay. Unfortunately, I do not have the time or luxury to "properly age" the clay, allowing water to envelope each clay particle... there just isn't time.

 

Am I doing something wrong that is making this happen?... is it the clay I'm starting with initially (when I get it from the manufacturer, it doesn't act this way) that doesn't like to be recycled? Is there a way to age it faster (besides the old "can of beer" trick I learned in grad school)?

 

I'm at a loss... and my students... aren't liking it.

 

I would appreciate any advice.

 

Thank you

 

Keith,

 

hi keith,

i am a college student currently studying this very issue in my clay and glaze formulation class. the best way to make or reclaim clay is to blundge it. so you will need to invest in a jiffy mixer(http://www.jiffymixer.com/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=5&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1).

first i would try to add some warm water into a 5 gallon bucket and keep it and keep it covered for approx. 1-4 weeks depending on the firmness of the clay. then check on it try to brake it up with a jiffy mixer. i would let it settle down again scrape the excess water off and make it into slip. i would then lay the slip on an absorbent surface such as dry plaster( just be careful not to get any plaster that is basically like clay death) then you can re wedge put it in your pugmill and use it again same idea as reclaiming. the reason why this works is that it is bring all the molecules together in making it tight and flexible rather then the way that the pugmill works where it is tearing the molecules apart.

mackenzie

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