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More Recycling of the Pottery Clay

When working with clay either throwing on a potters wheel, sculpting or pouring greenware there is always going to be clay scraps.
You don't have to throw away all your clay scraps and recycling them doesn't need to be a chore either.

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Here are some ideas.

Dry out all your old clay scraps and keep them it in a bag for recycling until you are ready.
Put the dried clay into a bucket and fill up to the top level with water.
Let soak overnight.
The clay should be soft and slushy.
If not, add more water if necessary and mix the soft clay with a stick or a drill with a mixer attachment.
Put the soft clay onto a large plaster of paris block for drying out.
When the bottom half has dried a bit, turn it over.
When the clay has the right overall consistency, cut up into small chunks and wedge. The soft clay will actually harden on the underside faster than the top, because the plaster is soaking up the moisture.
Be sure and keep track of what kinds of clays are going into the mix too, because this will determine the firing temperature.
This would be an excellent time to make paperclay.
Here is a link to paper clay that will take you to a page which will tell you how to make paperclay.

When throwing on a pottery wheel, always have two separate buckets, one for clean water and one empty one for wiping the clay from your hands into.
Being left handed, I dip my hands in the left side bucket of water and start throwing, and then when they are full of clay I wipe them on the edge of the clay bucket on the right side.
Every so often wipe the clay off the edges and down into the bucket to keep it from drying out.
At the end of the day, wedge the clay back up.
If it is too wet, squeeze it into a long cylindrical shape and put it on a table curved like an arch.

Form the clay into rough cylinders and sets them on a shelf inside the studio to dry more.

This exposes more surface area and will dry it out faster.
Depending on humidity and temperature levels the clay may need more or less time for drying, keep checking it and put in a plastic bag or air tight container when it is the right dampness.

You can also pour the slurry into a kitchen colander lined with a sheet of newspaper. The excess water will filter out and you will have just the clay left.
Store in a air tight plastic bag or bucket with a lid.


Clay processed from throwing slurry is very plastic and nice to work with!

There is a less messy way to recycle your pile of scraps, dip them in water and place them in a plastic bag.
Wrap tight, leave a couple days, then wedge and use it.

Another way to recycle scraps of clay is to throw them in a pillowcase and dunk the pillowcase in water until the clay is evenly wet.
Hang the pillowcase from a tree or fence or lay it on a grate for the water to drip out.


When recycling like this, it is actually better to let the scraps dry out first rather than using leatherhard clay.
You can use a hammer to break the dry clay inside the pillowcase into smaller pieces to help even more.

If you are storing slurry for later processing and it gets moldy or starts to smell, add a little bleach, it won't affect the clay.

Remember that the clay is hard on your hands, so cover them with petroleum jelly or lotion before wedging.

If the clay gets a little too hard, put it in the freezer until thoroughly frozen.
Take out and defrost, the clay will soften up.
If it gets too mushy make the arches like above or spread on a wedging table.

It isn't necessary to blow out the other person's light to let your own shine.

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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