Ken Horstman Studios

Reconstituting Clay

A lot of potters have questions about reconstituting clay that may have gotten a little stiff to throw or to work.

( this isn’t to be confused with recycling clay scraps  which I will cover in a future blog)  If you use bagged clay that you have purchased from your favorite pottery supply store.  If the clay is just a little stiff you can drop it several times and the clay should come back to a workable consistency. Many manufacturers add  gel material much like the gel in a disposable diaper or the the water crystals that retain water for plants. When these gels break they release the water and the clay becomes more workable. I learned this technique from a You Tube Video by  Bill Van Gilder in the You Tube video “How to Fix Stiff Clay”. 

Check it out here:  Bill is a potter from Gapland Maryland He makes some excellent pot and has created some cool tools.  Also see more of his videos at the Bill van Gilder You Tube Channel or his web site

Another technique is one I learned from the potter the late Elmer Taylor.  Leave your clay in the bag it came in add a cup of water to the bag and then reseal.  Put the bag of in a 5 gallon bucket like the kind you can get from the home improvement store. Fill the bucket with water and the pressure will make the clay absorb the water and the clay will become soft in a few days or up to a week.  (I have to repeat the process for some real stiff clay.)  Make sure there is no hole in your clay bag or too much water will get in and you’ll have a mess.  

I generally do both techniques,  it really ensures positive results.

See you in the next blog. 

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