September 15, 2009

Mixing the Dirt

I've been playing with the "Big One" the last couple of days. It's a circa mid 1960's Paoli clay mixer. I'm still trying to figure out how it's best use is.

click on images to enlarge so you can see my
fancy hose shut off feature

I started by scrubbing the interior and rinsing. There was a fair amount of rusty bits in there. Then I dumped the red dirt of varying wetness/dryness.

crushing the dirt into smaller pieces

On top of the dirt I put in the rest of the dry materials.

The mixer goes "forward" and "backward" and I used this feature to keep the mix in the main mixing section. Yesterday I mixed a small batch of red dirt clay and today mixed up a big batch of the sandy version.

the sand station in the distance.
the sun and wind helped dry out
the sand which helped in sieving it.

We have a huge pile of sand left over from Stacey's paving project and it adds a bit more texture to the clay. I tested it out last firing as well as doing a calcium test with some muriatic acid. However, it contains some material that is too large. To get the little stones out I dried the sand and shook it through my sieve. I know, it does seem like a lot of trouble...but nothing but the best! (keepin' it local)

Here's the recipe. If you have a local red clay, fire in a wood kiln to about cone 9 1/2 and use salt, then you may get close.
45% red dirt (15 mesh)
35% fireclay (35 mesh)
4% ball clay
3% XX Sagger
13% g200 feldspar

i sent the clay through the machine
twice to get the consistency right!

stacked pugs


I'll use this clay for my white slip and wax resist work as well as my alkaline glaze.

Now it's off to the shop for some after supper pottery!

That's it for now.