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Slurry Mixing and Dewatering Your Own Clay Body

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Weigh out the ingredients

I have already entered the recipe into my account at insight-live.com, assigned it a code number and printed a mix ticket for the total I want. I have a scale that tares to zero after adding each material. The slotted dust hood sucks the dust away as I add each. When I pour the dust into the water in the pail, a lot of dust is generated and this hood is even more important. Normally I used a big enough bag that I can seal the top and shake the mix together before adding it to the water.

Mix the slurry using a propeller mixer

Leave it mixing long enough under a mixer to thoroughly wet the surfaces of all the particles.This is a powerful mixer that can put a lot of energy into the slurry and it only takes a few minutes for it to be silky smooth.

Pour the slurry on a plaster table to dewater it

This table weighs 400 lbs dry and it can remove the water in an hour. If you need to make a plaster table you can find photos here on how to do it.

Peel up and turn over sections when ready

Using a rubber tool I make cut lines. Even before the center sections are ready I am able to peel them up and turn them over (as has been done on the far right). About half an hour after that it is possible to wedge them.

Mix the whole mass and fine-tune the stiffness

I combine sections into manageable sized pieces and put them back down to stiffen more. Finally I layer them and repeat a cycle of cutting across the layers and slamming the mass down onto the table each time. Ten cycles of this produces a thousand layers. After a final wedging the clay is ready-to-use, as good as produced in a vacuum de-airing pugmill!

Throw pieces on the potter's wheel

Throw the clay and feel how smooth and plastic it is!

Apply Engobes

After you have applied the handles and let them stiffen to leather hard, dip the pieces into a flocculated slip, one that has been gelled so that it does not run (is thixotropic).

By Tony Hansen

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