How to Reconstitute and Recycle Bone Dry Block of Clay and Reclaiming Clay Scraps

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Introduction: How to Reconstitute and Recycle Bone Dry Block of Clay and Reclaiming Clay Scraps

About: Lakeside Pottery, a nationally recognized Ceramic and Sculpture Repair and Restoration studio, established in 2001 as a ceramic art and pottery teaching facility. We are also craft Kintsugi / Kintsukuroi Japan…

Clay can be recycled and reclaimed so that it can be used again. The most common question we get is, "how can I reclaim large blocks of clay that are too dry or totally dry"?

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Related Useful Tutorials Links:

Making Wedging Table | Clay Recycling Slab

How to Choose The Right Clay to Use in Your Studio?

Making Large Amount of Slip / Clay Slurry

Simple Way Preventing Clay Clogging Sink

Weights of Clay Needed For Pottery Ware

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Supplies

  1. A hammer
  2. Five gallon bucket
  3. Clay recycling porous surface such as plasterboard or wood. Plasterboard is preferred
  4. Heavy duty plastic bag

Step 1: Breaking Dry Clay to Smaller Parts

  • Allow the block of clay to be totally dry. The clay can be current or decades old
  • Use a hammer to break big chunks of clay. Please wear goggles
  • Start breaking the clay from the edge

Step 2: Adding Water

  • Make sure that any large pieces are broken into bits. Smaller pieces will absorb water faster and more thoroughly
  • Transfer broken chunks to a bucket
  • Once the clay scraps are thoroughly dry, fill the bucket with water covering the clay completely and additional 1" of water over the top

Step 3: Removing Clay Slurry From Bucket

  • A couple of days later, once the slurry feels smooth, remove the clay slurry to a drying surface
  • Transfer the clay to a porous surface for to drying (we use our plaster wedging table)
  • Spread the clay mix thinly and evenly to about 2 to 3 inches thick

Step 4: Placing on Plaster Board

  • Smooth out edge to keep a consistent thickness. Edges not smoothed will over dry. Poke holes for faster and more even drying
  • Let the clay sit, checking on it periodically.** Let the clay to dry the right consistency depending on your needs (softer or firmer).

** The time it takes for the clay to dry depends on the amount of water that is in the clay slurry, room humidity, type of drying surface (plaster, wood, concrete) and room temperature. It could take hours or a few days. If you have to leave it unattended, you can place a plastic covering over the surface to slow drying.

Step 5: Removing Ready Clay From Plaster Board

  • When the clay can be pulled off easily, remove it from the plaster board
  • Roll the detached clay slab to the side leaving room for wedging
  • Divide the clay for wedging

Step 6: Clay That Wasn't Totally Dry When Entered the Bucket

  • This leather-hard, not totally dry, piece of clay (left) was mixed with the completely dried clay scraps in the bucket.
  • After sitting in water, the only clay that did not break down completely is the leather-hard clay chunk.

Step 7: Wedging the Clay

  • Use a clay size to match your strength
  • Wedge thoroughly
  • Clay ready for bagging

Step 8:

We place the wedged clay in heavy duty plastic bags and store about 25lbs in each bag. When you store clay in larger amounts it doesn't dry out as quickly giving longer shelf life.

  • Bag and seal clay
  • Mark the bag with the clay type / brand

Step 9: A Video of This Clay Recycling Lesson

Step 10: See Many More Lakeside Pottery Pottery's Lessons and Tutorials

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    3 Comments

    0
    Orngrimm
    Orngrimm

    Question 1 year ago

    As a preamble: I am an electronics engineer and have zero (Maybe even negative) knowledge of pottery and such stuff...
    Clay does change its properties if fired, right? So this only works with unfired clay?

    0
    lakesidepottery
    lakesidepottery

    Reply 4 months ago

    Sorry for the delayed reply - yes, your thoughts are acorrect

    0
    lakesidepottery
    lakesidepottery

    Answer 1 year ago

    Yes, you are correct! Only unfired clay can be recycled.