daily forward tumble


the practice of being creative everyday

4th of November – making more clay (a longish how-to-do post)

November 4th, 2010 at 19:10

Mud! I’m dreaming of mud. When I planted the fruit trees about a week ago I had a completely different appreciation of the type of soil we have in our back garden. While in the passed I would have cursed the dense, heavy clay like soil when I tried to dig anything deeper than an inch below the surface, I now experience a wave of delight when I hit one of those uber-dense clay patches. And as near enough everywhere in our back garden hasn’t been turned by heavy machinery the likelihood to hit the jackpot of my new found treasure -clay, is, well, put it this way, it’s not really a challenge. It simply is payback time as far as I’m concerned. So I took a few spade fulls of this garden soil and put it into a bucket while digging for my trees.

And two days ago I broke the big lumps into small chunks and put them into a plastic container (holds about a gallon of liquid) and steeped the lumps of soil in water overnight. Yesterday I drained off the water and it looked like this:

And then I filled the container up with water again, I tried to add as little water as possible but enough to give the clay enough water to dissolve.

And then began the squishy part of the job. The idea was to squash and dissolve as many of the lumps as possible and to remove some of the big lumpy rocks, roots, twigs and whatever else was within the soil that I didn’t want in the clay.

This is after about half an hour of squish and the water had disappeared completely, the clay/soil lumps were submerged f in a rather thick sludge of clay. I love that part of the job. But I need to make a note to myself not to do this on my desk again. I had squirts of clay muck as far as a 4 feet from the actual action. Thankfully I missed hitting anything too sensitive like the computer…

And then I left it to sit for another day to let the remaining lumps soften a bit more and when I got back it looked like this:

There were a few very soft lumps, easily squashed which is what I did next.
I then set up to filter the sludge through some gauze I had left from some old mosquito netting. I used some bungee cord to secure it over the rim of a bucket.

I didn’t put it on that well, that’s what cat no#2 was trying to tell me…

I then poured the mud into the netting over the bucket.

You can actually see the bungee cord slipping off as the picture is taken!
So then I just held the netting and let the sludge drip out through the net.

I then started to force the mud out of the bag by squashing it with my hands, yes, that part of the job was a lot of fun, too!

After I was done I stretched the fabric back over the bucket.

I then added the rest of the sludge to what was left.

I forced the remaining muck through from the top using my hands. And when I took the netting off I was left with a really clean bit of rather runny mud. But it was perfect to pour onto the plaster slab for drying (this is about half of what was in the bucket).

Hopefully I will have another nice amount of clay from the garden in a day or two maybe earlier, who knows.

And that’s it. It is extremely easy and good fun and you really don’t need any special tools. Give it a go if you have clay soil where you are. And in regards to access to kilns for firing, consider asking at you local high school or places where they do pottery classes. I really can’t see why people wouldn’t add the odd bit of pottery from hand made clay during one of their firings. And if you tell them about how you made the clay they might ask you to come and teach!

Oh, and before I go, this episode of how-to-do was monitored for technical correctness to meet household standards by cat #1 who was perched on the table overlooking the entire process.

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2 Responses to “4th of November – making more clay (a longish how-to-do post)”

  1. Beth Says:

    Wow! Ines! What a discovery! You’re so creative!

    No worries about the knitting. You do whatever you’d like, my dear! Every fourth Friday would be lovely…..but, no pressure! We crafty people have too many loves in our lives….we don’t need pressure!

  2. sherry Says:

    Your post took me back to being a little girl, I LOVED playing in the mud..this looks like so much fun.

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