Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Daddy wants a pugmill!!!

I must admit as an undergrad I was never really aware of all the behind the scenes work that went into clay prep. Getting it just right for the unaware college student took a great deal of time in mixing and recycling, much of which was probably done by hard working grad students. But at least they had access to top notch working equipment. Oh, I am sure this was necessary as the amount of clay was huge but the use of the equipment made the work easier.
My bane as a potter is keeping clay in a good state to be used for throwing. I have several hundred bags of clay that I use for slabs and other handbuilding pieces, but it is a pain to throw with. I must do a lot to get it to the right consistency. Wedging and kneading helps, but it slows down production and wears out my wrists

This year I have been recycling my scrap and that makes the best throwing consistency. I slake down my bone dry scraps in water for a few days and blunge mix them up ...

This process is followed by what we potters call 'bat drying'. The clay slip is allowed to sit for a couple of days in the tub where water is skimmed off the top to get a thicker slop like thickness. I then pour out half gallon size amounts on to plaster bats to dry overnight. Here they are on top of my slab table.

I need to knead and wedge these batches up and then the cycle continues again.  A pugmill would make quick work of this process. Although it is a bit of an initial expense, I am well convinced that this equipment is as important to the potter as a kiln.  Well, time will tell...
Thanks for reading!


Thanks for taking the time to comment!
-Rob Addonizio

Check out this technique!