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Re: [teacherartexchange] Moldy Clay


From: pam smith (thinkart2003_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Apr 05 2011 - 15:09:11 PDT

You are much better at this than I am. I too had smelly reclaimeed clay and I
know to kill the smell of house paint I read to add a little vanilla to it. I
tried this with my clay and it really seemed to help with the smell at least.
Have you ever heard of using vanilla or anything else?

Just my two cents worth.

----- Original Message ----
From: Marvin Bartel <>
To: TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group <>
Sent: Mon, April 4, 2011 4:12:44 AM
Subject: Re: [teacherartexchange] Moldy Clay


I was a clay teacher for over 40 years. What you describe is common problem with
rework clay, and even with new clay that has been in moist storage for long
periods. In all my classroom years this a problem for only one student who
happened to have an allergic reaction to the mold. She was hypersensitive to
molds, and could not be in the room. For everybody else it was a bit smelly, but
to my knowledge it was never a health risk. I believe you can safely use the
clay. Some ventilation is always good. In my opinion, clay and glaze dust can be
a greater problem, but there are good ways to control those by using only wet
smoothing and wet cleaning methods. Avoid sanding, counter brushes, brooms, and
vacuum cleaners.
You can search Hazards in Ceramics and/or Cleaning and working with less clay
dust for more information.


On Apr 4, 2011, at 8:19 AM, Paternoster, Dana wrote:

I have a clay question.  I have clay in my classroom that was bricks when I got
here six years ago, and that I have recently been reclaiming.  I seems to be
molding very quickly. I may be mixing different kinds of clay together too. 

It smells really bad, and I have been telling the kids that the clay is old, and
could be moldy and that is why it stinks.  They are just grateful to get to use
it, and have not been complaining, but I am also not requiring them to use it,

Is there a way to kill the mold?  It does not seem to be just on the surface,
but going through the clay. That is unless I have a grey clay mixed with the
other, but the grey parts of the clay stinks worse than the rest.

Am I in big danger of making us all sick? 

I don't have money to buy new clay.

Thanks for your help.

Dana Paternoster
Visual Art Department                                                     
Seaford Senior High School                                           
Seaford, Delaware 
(302) 629-4587 ex. 248
Department Web Site

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