Monday, July 11, 2011

The Recycling Thing

One of the great things about pottery is the fact that so much of the materials we use can be recycled. Of course, that can be a challenge as well.

In late May I took delivery of one ton of clay. I remember wondering if I would be able to use it all before the cold weather sets in. I didn't want to have to lug too much clay home, sut I would do that and store it in the cellar to keep it from freezing.

Well, it is now less than two months later and I am down to 700 pounds of the original purchase. Now the angst is generated by wondering if I will have enough clay to get me to the cold weather or if I will have to get more. But in fact, I probably won't. Clay can be recycled!

A lot fo the clay used to throw a pot is trimmed off a few days later. After all, pots have a top side and an underneath. Ever wonder how the bottom of a pot happens? Pots are dried until they are stiff - 'leather hard' is the term most potters use. Once they reach that stage, pots can be turned over, placed back on the wheel and their undersides carved with special tools to make the "foot". Of course, that results in trimming scrap.

Lots of it. And all of it reclaimable. I have gone low tech with this and decided to use a simple method. Clay always seems better to me when it has been reduced to a slurry for reprocessing. So trimming scrap is mixed with water to the consistency of yogurt. I mix the slurry using a drill mixer until it is smooth and then pour it into an evaporation table. The table is about 2 feet by four feet and has a plaster tub for a top.

Or at least, it will when I'm finished building it. Here it is as it currently stands:
This was today's project. In a couple of days, I will mix plaster and pour a tub top. The plaster surface will be covered with duck canvas, and the clay slurry will be poured into the canvas-lined tub. After a few days, the clay can be cut into bricks and set out to stiffen a little more before pugging and storing. That should keep me in clay for the rest of the season. It may even give me sufficient to work at home over the winter.


No comments:

Post a Comment