Friday, May 11, 2012

Recycling Paper Clay

In my recent paper clay workshop, I was explaining how paper clay can be recycled, reconditioned and reused. I’ve been working in this medium for a long time now and this process has become almost second nature to me. To other ceramic artists, this is a new concept.

I save all my scraps of paper clay and let them dry out. Once they are dry, they will last indefinitely and ready for me when I need them. The first step is to soak them well. This process is called slaking. Enough water is used to completely cover the dry clay. Do not mix the clay and water at this point. I leave this undisturbed for a couple of days.

This picture shows one bucket with my dried out scraps. The other two buckets have my paper clay slaking it them.

When I’m ready to reconstitute the clay, I pour off the excess water. You can save this pour off if you need to thin out the clay-water slurry to make paper clay slip. Then comes the messy part and your hands are great for this. Just dig in, mush and blend the clay well. Break down any lumps and try to get as smooth a consistency as possible. This may take some time. It’s a good time to wear an apron if you have one.

Once this clay-water slurry has been well blended, you’re ready to dry it out.

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