Preparing clay

Today I thought I’d show how my clay gets processed. It’s pretty primitive. 

First, I shovel out some from my stock. This is high iron clay from my kiln site, that I collected when I dug out my kiln hole. It makes a nice body for applying white slip, but until now I’ve never processed it, just dumped it in my Peter Pugger with some water and flipped the switch. 

Doing it this way made a great rough clay with stone eruptions etc, but I also got a lot of burn out holes from organic material, and worst of all, lime pops from some sort of material in the matrix that swells when it sucks up water after being fired. 
So, I take the raw clay and dump it in a big tub with water and mix it up really good, then wait and let the big chunks settle, and skim off the fine clay into the upper bucket. 

After a few hours, or less, I drain the clear water back down, mix it up, and repeat, until all the clay is out and only sand and rocks remain. Then I mix up the contents of the upper bucket and pour into a drying basket, or plaster vessel, or similar. 

After a few days, I have a nice clay cake to bag or wedge and use. I’ll also sometimes take the leftover sand, sift out the crap, and mix it back in. 

20 bundles of 10, butts polished and ready to be delivered. The whole process from beginning to end reminds me of what I always tell customers who have a romanticized view of the potting life: throwing pots on the wheel is less than 10% of the whole process, probably less than 5% if you wood fire, and most of the rest is hard labor.

from Instagram:

Well, couldn’t wait. Everything came out well, so it looks like I’ll make my deadline! You can see the diff in color and melt on the two pieces here. Top of kiln was a little hotter and more reduced. I personally prefer the matte surface to the glossy, but they’re all keepers.

from Instagram:

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