20 March 2009

clay management

i live in western montana and am fortunate to have the 'archie bray foundation' about 4 hours away in helena. i've thrown many thousands of pounds of their cone 6 oxidation and it has been a very good clay for me. i'm now using their abf porcelain and this order also bought some high fire sculptural clay to use on handbuilt work for the outdoors. it feels nice and i'll test it out this week.

people often ask about the my clay supply/system...i'll offer a brief rundown of my process. i order clay in 50 pound boxes from the bray and have it shipped on a truck to a town about 30 miles away where i drive and have them load the pallet into the truck. then leif and i unload it one box at a time and it is stored in my shop. 1000 pounds of clay is only 20 boxes so it tucks nicely into a corner.

i keep 2- 5 gallon buckets next to my wheel where i put all of my scraps and throwing water. when those are full i transfer the slop to my plaster 'bray trays' and then the slop dries out for a week or so and then i run it through my venco pugmill. i usually pug about once a week for 20 minutes or so. it's been a smooth system for years. ( i must point out how valuable i think pugmills are....not necessary but ohhhhhh so wonderful.)

now, though, i've got cone 6 clay, and 2 varieties of high fire clay that i'm trying to keep separate and will have to completely take apart and clean out my pugmill before i start running the porcelain through. ( i usually clean the screen and barrel on my pugmill about every 6 months anyway). i don't blunge the slop or do anything special and i'm interested to see if the porcelain will be more sensitive...my guess is that it will take a bit more finesse.

today i picked up 1500 pounds of new clay and organized my storage area a bit...

it's nice to have a good relationship with the bray and also with the trucking company....they have been so good to me. historically though, when i was younger and didn't know any better...i would hop in my subaru and drive to helena and load it up with a 1000 pounds of clay as the salesperson shook their head and turn around and head home....seriously....had i not heard of shipping companies??? if you follow me for any length of time, you will learn that i rarely do things the easy.efficient.smart.proper....way the first time, it's just not my nature but i'm still trying to learn. one day....i will share with you the story of heidi building a kiln....it is long and funny but has a great ending.

enjoy your weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'm glad you posted about this, because I'm always curious about pugmills. I remember WOU's (Western Oregon University) pugmill having incredible buildup all around it. Your method sounds both thorough and efficient! LOVE the new blog!!!!