Ken Horstman Studios

Reconstituting Scraps Of Clay

Since getting a pug mill I think my studio practices will be undergoing a great del of changes.   I found that saving throwing scraps in a bucket of water and the removing the excess water and putting the clay on canvas or a plaster bat and let it dry and then knead the clay was not very practical for me.  I would always find various lumps of clay that was not of a very smooth consistence and could be difficult to throw.  Really for me this process works best when to use the clay slurry to mix with your dry clay and use a clay mixer or a mixing pug mill to mix the clay.   

The method I prefers based on a method that John Britt has used in a you tube video.  (I’ll link to his video below)    My method is basically to methods to accomplish the same result.  I take clay that that has gotten pretty stiff (beyond leather hard) and I take a cheese grater and grate the clay. (I usually take the next to the smallest size.  But any size will work) I wait till the clay is completely dried and add to a couple of gallons of water that has a teaspoon of darvan 7 in it (sodium Silicate will work as well) .  Then mix with a jiffy mixer until smooth and the consistency you want.  I go for a thickness that will pour with some assistance (If that Makes sense).  My other method is to take completely dry clay and break into fairly small pieces then I take a big rolling pin and crush it even finer into dust or very fine pieces.  Then I follow the procedure above.   The liquid clay is then poured in a ReCycle  Slab from The Ceramic Shop

I let the clay dry and flip over as needed.  The results you get will depend on your studio and conditions inside or outside where you recycle your clay.  

I will explain in a future blog how I use this recycle clay with my pugmill and how I may use this in practice in the future.

John Britt Recycling Clay on You Tube

Pug Mill Part 2

Making the decision to purchase a pug mill is  one of the hardiest yet easy decisions to make it really boils down to if you need to deair or mix dry clay.  Then a mixer model with a deairing vacuum may be best for you.  I always believe stingy person pays most and you should always get the best you can afford. 

 There is the reality of what are your studios practices for me the best solution for how I work was the Nidec-Shimpo.  NRA-04S Model.  The S stands for stainless steel.  Most pug mills come with either aluminum augers or stainless steel augers both work equally as well but the stainless steel will not pit from porcelain as aluminum sometimes will.  Remember you may not use porcelain now but a pug mill with last for ever if taken care of and whose to say in 15 years what your clay body will be.  

I plan on still reconstitute my clay as mentioned in a previous blog. (I’ll repost and update in next blog.)  The NRA-04S comes with a double auger as opposed to the single auger that others have with a 1/2 HP motor that can pug 800 lbs. of clay in an hour, so it has the muscle to do the job.  It also gives me the opportunity to run clay though twice for any concern with mixing.  I have seen this model in use and it seem to dear as well as my wedging ever could.  It’s also more than a thousand dollars less expensive then a deairing/mixing model.

I purchased mine from The Ceramic Shop .  The reasons being: 

A:   I get almost all my supplies from them both because of price and their customer service can’t be beat.    

B: There is free shipping on most major equipment  (most clay companies do offer this as the manufactures ship from the factory.  

C:  they give you the option for 40 dollars extra they ship with a truck with a lift gate for studios with out a loading dock or on residential street where a 18 wheeler may not fit

 Here are the links to the manufacturers and the pug mill page for The Ceramic Shop.

The Ceramic Shop Pug Mill Page

Nidec-Shimpo Pug Mills

Peter Pugger Pug Mills

Bailey Pug Mills

Pug Mill

I made the big leap and the new piece of studio equipment I purchased was a pug mill.  Basically a pug mill is an auger that will assist you in the reconstitution of clay.  Some pug mills will only reconstitute clay, while others will not only reconstitute but mix clay, deair clay by the use of a vacuum, which eliminates the need to wedge your clay.  The pug mill is a luxury piece of equipment that do cost several thousand dollars.  The benefits are recycling large amounts of clay in a short period of time, the elimination of the need to wedge clay and mix from dry clay may save your studio time in the long run (depending on the model purchased.  You may not be able to justify the cost, as they say your milage may vary.    

The major suppliers of pug mills in the states are Nidec, (Nidec-Shimpo).   

Peter Pugger, and Bailey.   All offer a range of  sizes and capabilities

depending on your studio needs.

Here are links to the manufacturers web sites

Nidec ( Nidec Shimpo)

Peter Pugger


Shortly I will be blogging on which I purchased, why, and from where.  In the mean time  use the contact page let me know of any questions and don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list

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