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Re: clay processing,"home-dug?"

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From: Sidnie Miller (sidmill_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 18:10:21 PDT


Hi Caroline, I have fired home dug clay--sometimes successfully, sometimes
not. Theoretically you can find something you think is clay, mix with
water, roll out into a little coil and bend around into a circle--if it
doesn't crack and fall apart--you could try to fire it. I've tried
little mud swallow nests made of river mud--they came out really a pretty
terracotta color but were crushable with your fingertips. My janitor
brought in a bucket of ocher colored clay from his backyard which fired
great--I'd like to dig up his whole yard!! I didn't screen it to remove
rocks and it cracked along the rocks. Gardners are always complaining
about heavy compacted clay in their gardens--ask the faculty if they think
they have clay in their yards. Have them bring in a sample. Before you
take a bunch of campers on, I'd make sure the clay would work. One thing
you might do is get a bag of dried clay--then go out and find what you
think is clay--or maybe just a red dirt (iron oxide) and screen it and mix
1/2 with the ball clay--then you can pretty much be assured it will work.

About the firing, you could do a sawdust firing in a metal garbage
can--just surround the pots with sawdust, light it and let it smolder
until it all burns down. I've had a horrible time with this because the
fire keeps going out. I'd recommend dung firings if you are close to
anything that poops big. Put the pot under a coffee can, make a beehive
of DRIED cowpies all around it, light and wait till it burns down. Takes
about 45 min. I watched a guy fire on a barbeque grill over a wood
fire--when the pots got sort of low orange he put metal around them and
buried them. All these methods are really low firing--clay will be porus
and if the pots aren't super dry with even thicknesses, you will
break a lot of them. You need to experiment with all of this before you
get your kids or it could be a huge disaster. Sid

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# Sidnie Miller #
# Elko High School #
# College Avenue #
# Elko, NV 89801 #
# 702-738-7281 #
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