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thePatientPotter is a blog that is designed to encourage and inspire fellow Potters and Entrepreneurs as it takes them through the challenges and triumphs of a 'potter on a mission'.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Evaluating 2007: part 2

Evaluating 2007: part 2

Will I get bored? Will I still be able to do everything I’m doing now?

Right off the bat I need to throw these two questions out the window. What was I thinking? Clay is clay. I will just need to adapt my clay to suit my needs as I go along. So, let’s start analyzing the reasons I bring purchased stoneware into my studio. I want to adapt my red clay so there will be no need to bring in purchased clay.

Purchased clay is all bagged up and ready to go, as much as I need, when I need it at $9 for a 25lb bag. My red clay goes through a cleaning, drying, pulverizing, mixing and then an excess water removal process before I can use it. In one week I normally process about 25lbs. My biggest obstacle in processing my clay is the pulverizing of the dry, clean, clay chunks. I do it by hand using a wooden hammer. It creates a lot of dust and needs to be done outdoors. It can’t be windy outside because the fine dust particles that we cherish so much blow away. It also can’t be really cold outside because I’m a wimp. I can handle about 2 hours of pounding before my hands cramp and give out. 2 hours gives me enough clay powder to make 25 lbs of clay.

To rid myself of this bottle neck, Michael Cardew in his book, Pioneer Pottery, says that I need 3 pieces of equipment:

- Laboratory-size Jaw Crusher ($4500)
- Plate Mill or Pulverizer ($1750)
- Ball Mill ($1000)

What this equipment would do is take my 1-1.5” size hard clay pieces and bring them down to powder form. The Jaw Crusher takes the initial pieces down to ¼”. The Plate Mill will take the ¼” pieces down to a fine sand size (which is the size my hammer gives me). The Ball Mill will take the sand size down to an impalpable grade. It would be wonderful to have these. My clay would be better because the particles would be finer making it more plastic. But, we are talking about a lot of money. There has got to be a better way to take chunks of dried clay and reduce it down to sand size. Any suggestions?

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