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Reclaiming/Wedging a Ton of Clay

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Well, maybe not an actual ton but a heck of a lot.

I was away from my wheel for about ten years and I had numerous buckets of reclaimable built up back then and what new clay from that time is brick hard.

I finally retired and have been resuming my hobby as planned and have been reclaiming and wedging for a couple of weeks now (some throwing and play sprinkled in). 

I started with ~750 pounds to do. I’m down to about 300 pounds left to do. 

I wish I’d bought on a pug mill on day one. I could buy one but really prefer that $3 grand or so go towards maybe a gas kiln so I can do cone 10 reduction.

So should I spring for a mill with just 300 lbs left and I’m guessing future use would be maybe 500 lbs./year?

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Good question!

Responses likely to range from reclaiming is a waste o' time to buy the best mill you can afford, in stainless.

Once you're caught up, will you be comfortable reclaiming manually at the rate you generate?

If I had a pugmill, I'd definitely use it to soften (add a bit of water) new clay, however, a new kiln will likely be next major expenditure for me...

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I can’t wait for the response “I should have thrown away 750 lbs of clay”. :D That might be a valid act by a retail potter, but I’m kind of a Johnny Potterseed; I give away what I make hither and yon in my travels.

As I get my skills back up I should accumulate less that needs reclaiming so there is that. I guess the post catch up is going to boil down to volume generated to reclaim and how much time I want to devote to it.

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17 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

There’s also the “save the body” factor. How’s your wrists/elbows/shoulders/lower back? 

From one perspective it's my plan to skid into the grave wore out and broken. If I time it right the organ recovery folks won't find a thing worth recovering. I guess the other is I'm in better shape and lost a bit of weight since starting on this particular task. The steel holding my right wrist together is a testament to the surgeon that put it back together; zero discomfort.

But I'm a whimp on pain so the moment that starts a new pug mill will show up out front. :-)

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1 hour ago, C.Banks said:

when I took up slam wedging my ability to prepare larger amounts of reclaim improved drastically

I haven't heard that term before. I'll have to investigate. 

I do slam big hunks of clay a lot when reclaiming; i take a big hunk and wire it off putting a sheen of water between each slice cut it up so the previous cut grains are different and then slamming it to press it all together. Once I get it to the state I can spiral wedge it I take it from there. Is what I'm doing at first "slam wedging"?

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3 hours ago, ThruTraffic said:

Yep, just looked at YouTube. I'm slam wedging to a softer/smoother point where I can spiral it.

sounds like you are doing ok

I'll slam wedge until the clay is mostly homogenous - takes about ten minutes or so.

wedging after that is a quick process to get the clay lined up and weighed out.

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I drop-slam wedge.  Drop the lump onto a concrete paving slab - covered in cloth or heavy duty plastic, then squat to pick it up.  Cut in half, slap together, drop, repeat. 

Clay gets wedged, body gets toned.  Proper squats, using legs not back.

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I have to say I wedged clay for 30 + years and the day I bought a small pugmill was in the top 10 of good things Ive done... maybe even top 5!  I know its probably too late for this batch but I would HIGHLY recommend saving your pennies for even the most basic of pugmills.

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I slam wedge to begin with, love using a wiggle wire for this process as if needing water the little wave are perfect to spray into. I slam wedge soft and stiffer together, block up and repeat about 10 times, then I cone wedge it 200 times 10# at a time. Put it into a bag and twist flip onto a pile that I use later. Have done it for years, still have good wrists, but arthritic thumbs and some fingers. I do not do large volumes of work anymore and would probably do differently if I really did volumes at this point in life. In the early years I couldn't afford a pug mill, but used a Walker pug at the HS. Never recycled my own clay in it. Too much trouble transporting it there.




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