Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ceramics Technitioning; it's a hard-knock life

I will often say that a ceramics studio will never be clean. There is simply no way to remove all the residue of clay dust from every surface, and if there was (and maybe there is) it wouldn't be worth it. Though it will never truly be clean, it is certainly in constant danger of becoming absolutely filthy.

That's why it is routinely swept, mopped, and has it's many surfaces sponged almost daily. For mid-summer to December 31st (or "officially" until November), I fight a constant battle to keep the studio surfaces at a light clay film instead of splatters, dust, and trimmings littering the floor.

Reclaiming Clay; like a slow, soupy pheonix

Tucked behind the 1970's reminiscent partitions lies a cornucopia of loaned chemicals, our own stock of chemicals, a slew of recycled Tidy Cats buckets given a new purpose, and the plaster table: a place of rejuvenation, and rebirth.

We have one large plastic waste bin in the studio for reclaim. All clay that is too wet for throwing, too hard for reworking, or that lousy-looking pot you threw last week that just isn't worth firing will go into the bucket.

It's usually partially filled with water. This will let the clay absorb the water and become a liquid slurry of clay particles.

Once it's all nearly the same consistency, we take the water off the top with a sponge or small bucket and wheel the bin behind the partitions. It then dries to a slip-like consistency.

Next, we scoop the clay onto the plaster into sort of a slab of goo. The plaster will absorb moisture from the clay. Once it stiffens, it can be kneaded into large blocks of clay, bagged, put in the reclaimed clay pile.