Clay recycling is probably one of the most daunting tasks every ceramic artist has to face. However, it is actually necessary. Because it is important that no drop of clay is wasted so that we can use it for later. Saves you a lot of cash too if you do so, unless if you have a pug mill to begin with.

Collecting & Storing Clay

  • A heavy-duty container is needed since clay scrap and trimmings are heavy. Find a wheel mechanism where you can put your container so you can maneuver it around your studio. Place a framed screen on top of the container. This is important since the framed screen breaks down the scrap clay into pieces, making it usable for later.
  • When you’re done making your masterpiece, dump your throwing slop and any kinds of scrap into the container. Use a metal dustpan and your hands to collect scrap clay on the floor if you want to use them too.
  • Once the container reaches the top, decant the water. As long as there is water over the layer of clay in the recycle bucket, the clay scraps will break down into tiny pieces and will become thoroughly saturated. If there are lumps or dry material in the slop, the resulting reclaim will have hard and soft spots. The water will do its job without the need of mixing the clay in the bucket.

Reclaiming/Recycling Clay

  • The scrap clay you’ve collected needs to be dried out first before reprocessing it for later use. Listed below is a step-by-step instruction on how to do it.
  • Spread a thin layer of at least 2-inches or so of scrap onto an absorbent surface.
  • Plaster bats, wedging tables and large plaster slabs are good choices for this. “HardiBacker” Board is a material that works well for this. It is a heavy cement board that is not as effective as plaster but is strong enough to absorb moisture from the clay.
  • Flip the clay slab over from time to time and continue to do this until it is right for wedging.
  • Store drying bats on a vertical rack or ware cart to save space. A fan can also help dry wet clay quickly. This will accelerate the drying, so turn the clay frequently.
  • There is also an alternative method where you can use a rudimentary filter press system that’s made from cotton pillowcases. What you need to do is fill the sacks with clay slop and hang them over a bucket or just simply hang them outside. The water drips out from the sack and evaporates from the surface.

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