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First off, i would like to say hello to everybody. i'm new to the forum and haven't had the chance to fully explore the site. so consider this my formal greeting (with a dire plea for help). i'm a beginner when it comes to dealing with any kind of clay but i read a lot. i am currently trying to work with natural mined clay (dug out of the ground with my own hands). it's smelly but i can see it's potential. i have been able to refine the clay and remove all the things i don't want in there. my only real problem i'm having now is my level of plasticity. my clay won't pass the finger test (it cracks every time you bend it. unless you add way to much water). i'm hoping ya'll can help me. is there anything i can add to the clay to fix this. i know that i could age the clay but sadly i don't have 6 months+ to allow it to ferment and mature. i've read that i can add calcium lignosulphonate (apparently its a concrete additive that allows for less water and greater absorption. please correct me if i'm wrong) and it will greatly improve the plasticity, but i can't find it in quantities smaller than 1 metric ton. can i use ashes (i think i remember a teacher in school saying you could add willow or cat-o-nine tail fluff but once again i'm unsure and not willing to ruin my clay.)? somebody told me i could add sand but it seems to me that adding that would have the opposite effect. i feel as though i have exhausted google and youtube and i still don't have a solution to my problem and i don't know anybody with the experience to help me. i have 80+lbs of clay just waiting for the right answer so i can finally start creating things (and not having them want to crack apart while molding let alone when drying and firing). i want to make clay pipes and mug/cups (i'm saying this just in case it effects what i should add to the clay. i have no desire to make anybody sick or hurt them because i used the wrong additive). I have been bitten by the clay bug (HARD) but i've reached an impass. Please help me. Any and all information will be greatly appreciated. i eagerly await your responses. i'm ready and waiting to satisfy this pottery itch. I can't seem to think about anything other than clay now-a-days.