"Like a pig in mud"
Well the summer is finally here... or was! Now writing this on the only day it has rained in days! But over the last week or so I have been arms deep in clay and toes! Recycling the growing barrel of trimmings and worshoppers practice pots that has been sat in my studio for months groaning by the sheer weight of mud and abandonment on my part. It's a job i've been putting of for way too long! But I have to say it has been a huge amount of fun.
My Guide to reclaiming the mud
My recycling methods are pretty primitive to say the least, I'm saving for a pugmill in my imaginary extra saving pot. But in the mean time my tools are;
- Old Pillow Case
- Two rubber buckets
- Tap water
- White vinegar
- Wooden boards
- Huge quantities of the Sun
- Power Drill & Paddle Bit
- Two pea size guns
The process is fairly easy;
Stage 1: Have a big rubber tub of clay with a polite message to everyone to chuck their slops, trimmings in.
Stage 2: Let it sit for days and try not to catch its eye! No don't do this! Recycling regularly is a much better idea!
Stage 2: Cover the dry clay scraps in water and a little white vinegar - Helps the clay remain nice and sticky and stretchy, the acidity in the vinegar helps break down the clay a bit and makes the studio smell like a chip shop, especially when the kilns on.
Stage 3: Remove the resting water that separates from the clay and get your guns on a Powerdrill make sure it is powerful enough (500w) is good enough and you have a solid paddle Bit to get in amongst all the clay.
Stage 4: Make two holes in the top of your pillow case, thread through soft rope so that you have something long enough to hang, or make a pully from. Fill the pillow case half way up with the sloppy clay. Hang pillow case up so that the water drains out, I use a rubber tub and have suspended my pillow case from my old Kick Wheel which weighs a tonne - You will need a strong ceiling or something that can take the dead weight of the clay for a long duration. Depending on how warm your studio is the water will take prob about 4-6 days to get most of the moisture out. The clay will still be very wet and sticky but by then most of the extra water will have reduced out through the pillow case.
Stage 5a: Wait for the British rain to stop and quickly run out like a boots advert into the tiny glimpse of sunshine, check for rain and if their isn't any lay the wet clay onto plasterboards, or wooden boards and spread it 2 inch thickness. Let the sun do the work.
Stage 5b: If it is a really hot day the water will draw out of the clay quite quickly to airate the clay, prod the clay with your finger tips as if you were making Focaccia bread. When the clay gets a little firmer you will be able to peel the clay away from the board. It will still be sticky on the top side like an uncooked pancake, flip the clay over and repeat.
Stage 6: When the clay is to a dryness that you can mould it, it may still be quite sticky, make little arches (Like little lochness humps) these allow the air to get under and over the clay and will quicken the process. Again let the sun/heat do the work have a cuppa and a sunbathe. Might as well run up to the Portuguese for a custard tart! (see top pics)
Stage 7: When the clay is firm enough to mould into a ball, it is ready to wedge. For this you will need a strong bench or heavy stool. I have a wooden stall I use, grab a piece of calico or a wooden board and wedge the clay as you would ready to throw. I am still working on my Japanese spiral wedge but they still look a little snail like!
Stage 8: Hit the wheel! It is an amazing feeling giving the clay multiple lives, it maybe one of the lucky pieces that find its form fired and glazed and in someones hands. The best feeling is that nothing goes to waste! And it's also good on the pocket to!
There are many ways to recycle clay! But this is the one I love the most!
Frome Independent Market
These are the markets I've got lined up so far in sunny somerset! I am delighted to have a suitcase stall at the bustling Frome Independent Market. I'm very much looking forward to meeting some new faces and hanging out with the regular makers. Please come and say hi and share with me all your locally produced finds. I will be selling my new summer range of Home Thrown Ceramics, including lemon squeezers, sip cups and jugs.
1st July 2018
5th August 2018
Join the Mud Throwers Club
Looking for some Mud Therapy - New friends and an opportunity to be creative whilst eating nibbles and sipping cold beverages in the sunshine? Then get in touch!
Summer Dates for Beginners Mud Throwers Class
Thursday Evenings - 6.30pm - 9.00pm
4 week course - Model Making, slab building, coiling,
pinch pots, glazing & basic wheel throwing techniques.
June 7th - 28th 2018 = £100
July 5th - 26th 2018 = £100 (5 places available)
August - Taster / Pop Up Events
September (Holiday for me)
October - 4th - 25th = £100 (6 places available)
November - 1st- 22nd = £100 (6 places available)
December - 29th of November - 20th Dec = £100 (6 places available)
*Full time students 20% off*
Happy rolling in mud! Let me know how you get on!