Sunday, October 5, 2008

Waste not...

One thing that should have been on my to-do list and was not, is recycling. I didn't do much while in the summer studio - there's just not space - and I got a little behind. I recycle with one dry bucket and one wet bucket. I just throw all of my stoneware in the same buckets, regardless of color -- firing temperature is the only distinction I make, and right now I am only firing to Cone 10, so that's not an issue. Any clay which is too dry to use goes into the dry bucket, to dry our further, hopefully completely. Any clay which is too wet to use, with some exceptions*, goes into the wet bucket, where I keep enough water to just cover the solid clay all the time. When the wet bucket is full, or just when I have a few extra minutes, I scoop out the slurry and spread it onto a plaster block, about 18" x 24". This size recycles enough to fill a 25-pound bag such as you get purchased clay in. It takes a few days or a week -- more if it's been damp -- but when the clay is throwing consistency or just a little wetter, I roll up the now-solid mass and put it into a used clay bag, where it needs to sit for a month or more, homogenizing. Then I pour the contents of the dry bucket into the wet bucket, as much as it will take, and pour my throwing water in enough to cover it. 

Having two or more clay bodies in the mix produces some interesting results, and, rarely, will create a body which is better than either of the two parent bodies. This variation is one reason I recycle, the others being a temperamental aversion to waste, and my fabled frugality. 

*The exceptions I mentioned earlier are clay which is only a little too wet,  such as a bit of cut-off rim. I keep a small bowl lined with a piece of canvas near my wheel for these bits. The canvas wicks away just enough water that these don't have to go through the recycle process. Believe it or not, it makes a difference!

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