top of page

How to Recycle Clay without a Pug Mill

Here is an infographic about recycling clay.

Want the infographic's transcript?

Mistakes are commonplace in pottery. Clay can become too wet, too dry, fly off the wheel, and crack when drying. Mistakes are important, making us more resilient and allowing us to learn. However, a wonderful advantage of clay is the ease at which it can be recycled before it has been fired.

To recycle your clay, you can place your clay in a bucket. Fill the bucket with water until just covering the clay and allow it to sit for a couple days until the clay fully degrades, becoming a thick slurry. You can speed up this process by mixing the clay and water around and breaking up the larger lumps of clay. Place the clay onto a plaster bat and allow it to dry out until it comes back together into a moldable or throwable consistency. This may take up to 5 days, depending on the wetness of the clay, the temperature in your studio, the amount of airflow over the clay, and the porosity of the plaster your boards are made of. Once the clay has reached your desired consistency, remove the clay and wedge it thoroughly to fully homogenize the clay and remove all the air bubbles that the reclaiming process incorporates.

Making Your Own Plaster Bats:

  1. To make the plaster bats, you can use either plaster of paris or pottery plaster. Choosing which plaster to use is up to you, but for drying boards we personally use plaster of paris because of its lower cost, greater porous nature, and limited wear and tear in use. (If you would like to know more about the differences between these two types of plasters to make a more informed decision, refer to the plaster venn diagram.) You can also craft a damp box, if you would like to slowly dry out your clay and control airflow. It will also limit the damage to the plaster board.

  2. After you choose which type of plaster you are going to use, obtain a clean plastic bin. Don’t forget to wear your respirator as the small particles can be harmful.

  3. For plaster of paris, mix together 2 parts plaster to 1 part cold water. For pottery plaster, use 7 parts water to 10 parts plaster. (These directions may vary. Check the packaging before proceeding.) You can do this in a separate container to ensure consistency or within the plastic container that will be used as the mold.

  4. Mix together the plaster slurry with a utensil, such as a sacrificial spoon, fork, or spatula. You can also use your hand covered by a rubber glove to evenly mix. Ensure that there are no lumps in the mixture.

  5. Tap out any remaining bubbles by gently dropping the container on the ground repeatedly.

  6. Allow the mixture to dry for about 30 to 60 minutes or until the plaster has become hard and shiny.

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All