Ceramic - Pottery Dictionary

by Susan Mussi

CLAY Reclaiming

ca: ARGILA Reutilitació

es: ARCILLA Reutilización

Clay reclaiming has to be done when clay has dried too much, pieces have been made and not used because they are broken or cracked, bits are thrown off while working with the wheel, they can still all be used again. If you use many types of clay, when ordering them make sure you keep them separate, in different colored plastic buckets. Put the clay into a bucket and cover it with water and leave it for a day, then look at it.
If the clay was in very large chunks it may need more water, add some and then leave it until it has disintegrated into a thick, chunky sludge which must be thick enough to be lifted out of the bucket so as to start kneading it. If there is too much water, leave it in the bucket and mix it as much as possible then leave it to dry off. Do not remove any water as it has many clay substances and this might damage its basic structure. When taken out of the bucket, put it onto a flat surface and flatten it out to dry.

There are two ways of doing this:
(a) Lay it out onto plaster bats, as level as possible, and keep turning it so it dries out evenly.
(b) Have two or more large planks of wood and sheets, the same size, of strong finely woven canvas. Put the canvas on top of the wood and the clay on top of the canvas spreading it out evenly. When dry enough to turn lay a canvas on top and another piece of wood and turn the sandwich over, take off the wood and canvas that are damp and leave it to dry.

Continue with one of the two methods until the clay is dry enough to wedge. Wedge it very well, cutting and turning it many times. Pack it in a plastic bag or airtight bucket in a cool room, to keep it moist enough to use again.