You don't have to throw away all your clay scraps, but recycling them doesn't need to be a chore either. Here are some ideas for the environmentally-conscious potter.
- Throw with two separate buckets - one for clean water, one empty one for wiping the clay from your hands into. So, if you're right-handed, dip your hands in the right bucket of water, throw, then when they are full of clay, wipe them on the edge of the clay bucket on the left. Every so often wipe the clay off the edges and down into the bucket to keep it from drying out.At the end of the day, wedge the clay back up and make your last piece. If it is too wet, squeeze it into a long cylindrical shape and put it on a table curved like an arch. This exposes more surface area and will dry it out faster. Or try it the next day. Depending on humidity and temperature levels may need more or less time. Check it and cover when it is the right wetness.
- Another thing to do with throwing scraps is pour the slurry into a kitchen colander lined with a sheet of newspaper. Excess water will filter out. Note: Clay processed from throwing slurry is very plastic and nice to work with!
- After you've been working with clay slabs and you have that pile of scraps, dip them in water and place them in a plastic bag. Wrap tight, leave a couple days, then wedge and use it.
- Another way to reprocess scraps of clay is to throw them in a pillowcase and dunk the pillowcase in water until the clay is evenly wet. Hang the pillowcase from a tree, or lay it on a grate for water to drip out.When reconstituting like this, it is actually better to let the scraps dry out first rather than using leather-hard clay. You can use a hammer to break the dry clay inside the pillowcase into smaller pieces to help even more.
- If you are storing slurry for later processing and it gets moldy or starts to smell, add a little bleach. It won't affect the clay. Remember that the clay will be harder on your hands and cover them with petroleum jelly or lotion before wedging.
- If the clay gets a little too hard, put it in the freezer until thoroughly frozen. When defrosted the clay will soften up. If it gets too mushy make the arches like above, or spread on a wedging table.
Do you have a tip or trick utilizing clay scraps? Leave it here in the comments!