Thanks Marvin--I was looking at the ads for the Bailey one, mostly because it is a lot cheaper than peter. I really appreciate your excellent advice.
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In my own studio I am using a Petter Pugger VPM-60. It is a combination mixer and pug mill. You just put all the clay in and let it batch mix until it is uniform. Then you stop the motor and turn it on in the reverse direction and it pugs de-aired (with vacuum pump) clay ready to use. A very clever idea. It is priced more than twice what you mention, but they make smaller models. I have not used the smaller ones, but they should work about as well for smaller amounts. You can put clay of any condition in it. It is a sealed chamber, so clay does not dry out if it is kept closed. It is safe because it will not run when it is open. At times, the clay can spin around without mixing, so you have to add some drier materials available to get it mixing.
I have used several of the other pug mills that do not premix as batch mixers. They are very slow to use as mixers, because you end up running the clay through several times before it is ready and they require constant attention to keep the clay going in. In some of them, if clay is allowed to dry, the machine is damaged when turned on. I can wedge faster than the smaller ones pug.
At one place I taught, we mixed all the clay with a Soldner batch mixer. It can also handle all kinds of scrap. It is fast , efficient, safe, and reliable. It is an inspired design that produces fast well mixed clay in a rotating concrete tub. You can store scrap clay in it. The Soldner mixer would mix a lot more clay in less time than the Peter Pugger, but students would have to wedge it to remove the air bubbles . I think wedging is a good physical and emotional workout for students.
Any mixer that includes dry clay flour in the process will be dusty and needs to be placed where a powerful exhaust fan will draw the dust away from the operator and blow it outside. I require students to empty the clay scoop down gently into the mixer - never dumping it. To avoid transferring dry clay more than once, the clay bag is placed on the scale and the correct amount of dry clay is subtracted by weight from the bag directly to the mixer. Additionally, the operator should wear an approved dust mask if working with dry clay flour. The Peter Pugger does not produce any new dust once it is closed and running. Batch mixers, on the other hand, generally do not close tightly, so some dust is produced until the clay is all wet. I bought the slower Peter Pugger for my own studio because I am lazier about wedging the clay than I once was. There are always other tasks I can do while I wait for the mixer to blend the clay. Not much cleaning is needed for either system u!
nless you want to change to a while clay after using it for a dark clay.
>I'm looking for information on buying a pug mill. I see a variety of mills in catalogs--Some have a huge output which I wouldn't need. I would like to make my own clay (90 kids/day ) with bags of dry clay--and also recycle dried out clay that we have used and discarded before firing. I think I know that the function of a pug mill is just to throw all kinds of clay and some water into the hopper and turn it on and then nice, mixed up clay comes out the end and is bagged. Am I correct?
> I see that some also de-air the clay so that wedging isn't necessary. Is this a desirable thing to pay a lot more for?
> I always have kids wedge the clay we buy pre-moistened. Has it been de-aired?
> Do any of you have a supplier near Nevada that you would recommend, as opposed to using the Nasco catalogs etc.
> Is this a reasonable thing to buy considering it costs $3000 or so? I'm spending around $3800/year on clay, pre-moistened and bagged. I drive to Salt Lake City to pick it up to avoid shipping charges.
> What about cleaning it out?? If you only use it once a month--do you have to take it apart and clean it every time or can you just seal up the ends and keep moist clay in there?
>What about dust and safety precautions??
>I would appreciate anything you can do to help me. Sid