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Proper Pugging

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I purchased a pugmill (Peter Pugger with a vacuum chamber) for my classroom a couple years ago (after hand reclaiming my entire 750 lb. bin to send home to students during a COVID closure in the Fall of 2020).

Prior to that, myself and the students would do it all by hand.  I'm getting too old for that nonsense, and it takes up too much classtime for students to do it.

Anyway, I like the Peter Pugger because you can throw anything in it, from slip to bone dry.

I've got pretty good about getting a consistent mix from it, but the clay seems a bit short and has a "shaggy" appearance.

I add slip from the bucket, where the throwing water is emptied, to get some of those fine particles, and have even added a splash of vinegar.

The clay is used for hand-building only, so we haven't had any issues with throwing, but our coil plasticity leaves something to be desired.

Any suggestions?

Also, the ground chuck the machine produces tastes a bit mineraly...

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You need the fines from the throwing buckets as much as you can get and the vinagar is also helpful.Adding dryer clay takes some time for all theloarticles to wet whuch means more mixing time.If you are addin g dry trimmings for example that takes longer and produced shorter clay. I as a professional only pug wet clay and toss all dry clay as I do not have time for it to grow legs to throw. If its still short let ot age in bags and rotate the stock.

Edited by Mark C.
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A common reason for clay to be short when pugging is not having enough water in the mix. What happens if you take a small lump of clay out of the mixer (before it's pugged) and roll a coil the finger thickness and wrap it around your finger? Is it short before pugging? (cracks)

If you have added the fines (and tried vinegar) try adding a bit more water, let it slake for an hour or so then pug it through. Run it through a second time if you still get dogears and see if that helps. 

Is this lowfire clay? If it is you could try adding some ball clay if it's still short. Adding some fresh new clay to the mix will help revive it also.

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Veegum T is the magic additive I use when a batch is too short.  I keep a container of hydrated Veegum T next to the pugmill so I can just add a small scoop to the pugmill if I need too.  I am also very diligent in recovering as much of the fines as possible when reclaiming.

Edited by Piedmont Pottery
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