Friday, May 29, 2015

Getting the rehydrated clay workable - Lesson learned

**  Besure to read UPDATE below.

After 10 days of the rehydrating process, I removed the red clay bags from the buckets of water.  The results were different for each bag. 

This rehydration process kind of sucks. It's hit or miss on how much water you need to add depending on how dry your clay is.  Also, if it's really hard clay you may need to leave it submerged for a full 2 weeks or longer. 

Hand-built Red Clay Mugs
by Cindy Gilliland

Results...

The 2 bags of Laguna Redstone Clay turned out very soft on the edges, but still firm in the center.

When I opened the 2 bags of Laguna Hawaiian Red Clay, all I could say was.. "What a flipping mess".  One bag was way too soft and the other was very firm.  I decided to combine the soft and the firm in layers and homogenize it by wire wedging and hand wedging. 

This process just proved to me again why I wouldn't be making pottery if I didn't have a pug mill.  My neck is screaming at me.  Btw, I didn't use my pug mill because I didn't want to messy it up just to wedge 100 lbs of red clay.

I don't plan to use this rehydration process again.. ever.

Wire wedging soft and hard clay

I got lots of practice improving my spiral wedging skills.  I'm still not a pro.

It would have been easier to just clean out my pug mill.

**UPDATE!!!  9/3/2016 -  I got a much better tip on rehydrating hard clay.  (See comment below from Marian Williams).  Soak a towel.  Wrap it around the clay.  Put the towel wrapped clay in a plastic bag and let it rehydrate for a few days.   I tried this technique and it's easy and works VERY well!!!


11 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the process! I have to agree with you on the red clay (brown clay is what I have and it does the same thing). I always seem to bypass using the brown for just that reason...staining. Clean up take so much longer for me and I can never seem to get it all. I have a phase where my white clay will pick up missed brown color. Anyway, hope your neck feels better and looking forward to see what you make with this red clay!

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    1. Thanks Tammy, My neck is feeling much better already :)
      I'm thinking it might be time for a new wedging block.

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  2. I used to switch back and forth also, red to white, and finally gave up the red--too hard cleaning up in between sessions, but red clay is SO beautiful :)

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    1. I know! It's so rich and pretty. The Hawaiian Red is a very groggy/strong clay. Perfect for bakeware.

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  3. My wrists hurt just thinking about all that wedging you did!
    I agree with you about the red clay. The staining really bothers me. It seems I am much messier when I use it, which I am sure isn't true, you just can't see all the splatters of the lighter clay :-)

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    1. When I was wedging the last 50 lbs, I kept thinking.. "How did I ever survive without a pugmill?".
      It has been fun to work with the red clay for a change. I especially enjoy using it for handbuilding.

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  4. Replies
    1. I plan on using some blue and green rutile glazes. They always turn out nice with the red clay.

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  5. My aging body agrees with you about the wedging process! I'm lucky I have a young guy who will come in for an afternoon and reclaim clay for me for a small wage. It's just too hard for me to do with the arthritis in my shoulders.

    I love the red clay, too! I clean up as well as I can, then wedge some 8-11 buff for Raku before I think about using a light clay again. It's not a perfect system, but it's pretty good!

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  6. I rehydrate clay by wrapping water soaked towels around the clay, wrapping tightly with plastic, leave 3-7 days and voilà- perfect!!! I highly recommend this- from hard as brick to perfect!!!

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    1. Thanks Marian for the tip. I tryed your soaked towel technique and it worked great!!! Definately the best way to rehydrate clay.

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