Cleaning Clay

I’ve have always wanted to take clay from the ground, clean it and make a bowl or something out of it. Years ago I did bring home a 5 gallon bucket full that I had dug while dad was working in the field. He put it in the truck and hauled it home for me and there it sat. I didn’t get the rest of the materials rounded up to actually do the project. Well, history does repeat it self because I have a large soup pot of clay that I dug out of the sump pump hole in the basement. This time however, I’m pretty sure I have all the pieces to finish the project.

The problem the first time around was the directions I had to clean the clay required screens and more buckets and a list of things that even if I could have rounded them up I’m pretty sure dad would have been less than thrilled to find me coating them with mud and clay.

This time however I have figured out that clay is lighter than the sand, rocks and other bits of stuff that need to get cleaned out of it. I didn’t take “during” pictures because me, a camera, mud and a hose, well lets just say something was bound to go wrong.

Step one:
Fill the bucket of clay with water. With your hands get everything moving. Smash the chunks with your fingers and stir everything up really good. By this time the water will be very cloudy and your arm will be coated with dirty water.

Step two:
Let the bucket of water sit for a few minutes. This will allow the heavier particles to sink while the clay particles stay suspended in the water.

Step three:
Pour the clay water into another bucket leaving the particles that settled on the bottom in the bucket. Rise out the unwanted chunks.

Repeat steps one thru three until there is next to nothing settling on the bottom of the bucket. Depending on how dirty the clay is this could take three to six times.

Once your sure you have gotten all the sand out let the clay water sit for a couple days. The water will turn clear and you will see the clay on the bottom. Pour out the water and allow the clay to dry until it is a workable consistency. The drying time will vary considerably depending on the heat and humidity where the clay is being kept.

Viola, ready to use clay!

Next up, Using your clay.

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