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 Digging clay out of the stream and wondering what mesh size I need to use to remove the grit and just leave the clay? or could I used an old bed sheet? Would that remove the finest grit? Just experimenting at the moment but I'm currently isolated (during the COVID outbreak) on a farm in Somerset (UK) and would really like to carry on potting - intending to build a raku firing pit so expect I will be posting again for advice soon! Thanks for any advice. Eleanor ... 

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Hi and welcome!

A bed sheet won’t screen anything at all out, except maybe water. Sheets are great to dry you slurry out on. 
To get the coarsest rocks and organic material out, I’ve seen some start with window screen and get finer from there, depending on what’s in the clay. 

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You may need to pass it through multiple screens of decreasing mesh size.  First screening will depend on how much & how big the "grit" is.  If there are large pebbles and/or twigs, you may want to start with some 'hardware cloth' (usually around1/2" square mesh).   As Callie said, ordinary window-screen works well for the next stage.  If that doesn't get enough out, try a paint strainer.

There are several threads here in the forums, with a lot of good information on the topic.  Try searching for "local clay".

Good luck, and enjoy the journey !

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There are two methods: dry screening and wet slurry. If you collecting from a creek bed then you will get a range of material ranging from organis to large pebbles. The clay from a creek bed is typically very fined grained due to being sedimentary. Using a window screen to dry process is perfectly fine: then switch to 60 or 80 mesh to capture clay. Any particles larger than that would be rough on your hands anyway. You could dry screen through a window screen: then wet slurry what passes through the screen. Mix with plenty of water: mix with a drill/paddle or stir vigoursly by hand. Allow it to stand for 1-2 hours, then ladle off the water into a pillow case. Leave the sediment on the bottom, you are only capturing the suspended fine particles.

All that said: collecting clay from a creek bed is not ideal because of all the Organics and large particles. Walk the creek and look for areas where sediments have collected in low spots or where there is little flowing waters. Sediments collect in these areas and your clay yield will be higher for the same amount of effort.

Tom

 

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Hi guys thanks for your replies so far..I have been digging it out from an area where the stream has run round a bend and left a great buildup of clay so getting a really good yield which is very satisfying!.. I have already screened out twigs and pebbles and quite fine grit with an old wooden sided sieve I got in a job lot of craft tools at an auction. It doesn't say how fine the mesh is but I'm guessing at 40 or bigger. So by the looks of it I will need a at least a 60 if not a 100. I'll now search up local clay as Rockhopper suggested. Thank you!

 

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Don't forget that when the snow melts, the last to go are the large piles.

Those larger particles can push your melt temp up, and help it keep shape.

I dug some clay from the backyard and with the sand still in it, uncleaned, it held up to cone 6.

Clean, and it's melted.

Dug some red clay by the river, and it contained enough Iron to hold shape cleaned, but it was extremely porous and brittle.

Found a white vein running through that red, no dirt, clean, thought it was good, but after being rained on and "washed", it turned yellow like the rest of our local, reckon it was just excessive calcium or other salts making it white. But it doesn't taste saltier, must be calcium. Same calcium makes it have yellow crystals as a glaze I was told.

I found an easy way to wet sieve is to slurry your clay in a 3 gl 12 ltr? water cooler jug.  You can hold a lawn (dishless sieve) over the small opening with your hand and pour your slurry into another container pretty quick and cleanly. All the roots, and large rocks remain in the cup shaped screen in your hand and can be dumped out. 

I recommend testing it sieved at different sizes.

And if at all possible, hang on to different sizes of particles sieved out for adding to cleaned clay.

I was excited to find a lady who made a useable body with our local clay adding 50% ball clay.

Excited for you!

Sorce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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