Saturday, January 3, 2015

Getting Down and Dirty with Recycling Clay

A great way to start the new year was to finally finish off recycling all the unfired clay that had been "squashed, collapsed, dropped, warped and rejected" from my bonsai pot making.

I'd accumulated 5 buckets full and wasn't even going to attempt wedging it all up by hand.

After getting permission from the President of the pottery club, I came home with their clay pug mill, nothing flash, but it does the job.

For those of you unfamiliar with how it works, basically you put the sloppy, lumpy clay in the top and squish it down with the leaver.

There's a round mixer type blade "thingy" in the bottom that mixes and combines the clay all together. Love this squishy clay bit, great for the skin!!
 Once the rectangle box is loaded up with clay, the lever is pressed down onto it and the clay is slowly pushed through the mixer.  The slower you press the lever down, the more the clay is mixed.
Hey presto..... out the other end comes the mixed up clay!
 I cut the clay off into small lengths.
Usually I put it through about 2 or 3 times, it really depends what the consistancy is like.  If it's too firm, I shosh a little water over the clay before it is put through again and it soon softens up.

Its also a good way to combine extra grog to a large amount of clay.  Also sometimes its handy when combining different clay types.
After a couple of hours doing this, all the buckets were empty and I had quite a pile of clay ready to be used.
My daughter (the photographer) was totally bored with the whole process and wandered off before I'd finished everything.  Not something that excites young teenagers!

From here, it was bagged up, labelled and put in an old fridge in the shed until I'm ready to make it into a few bonsai pots.

I had to pull the pug mill apart to clean it up and scrape all the clay out of the inside.  Usually you can stuff a damp cloth in the top and at the end to keep the clay soft for the next time you use it.  I've heard on the grapevine that its "desperately needed" at the clubrooms again, so its all clean ready to be returned... great not to have to get the hubby to fix it before I could use it this time too.