slaking the clay

1. I soak clay ingredients or reclaimed/found clay that has been dried, broken down/crushed and sieved, in water for at least 2 months in covered buckets (which often get very smelly!). The water if then carefully siphoned off - onto the garden, not the drain in order to protect the environment (and my plumbing!) - until I achieve the right consistency (something like thick single cream)...

blending the clay

2.to ensure even distribution of clay particles and to improve plasticity I blend the slaked clay with a mixer attachment on a drill, trying not to get covered in the process!...

blended clay

3.once the clay is entirely smooth and something like to consistency of thick cream, it's ready for the next stage...

readying the clay for wedging

4. at this stage there is still too much water in the clay for me to work with it so I place it in drying trays which are covered and allow slow controlled drying. During this process the clay is rolled and turned periodically so that the outside surface doesn't become dry and crusty as these drier particles would not make a smooth throwing medium. When the clay reaches a point where it will hold its form but is still reasonably soft and malleable it's ready for wedging...

spiral wedging

5.when I judge the consistency to be right the clay has to be wedged to ensure the particles are evenly distributed throughout the clay body. This is done by using my upper body weight to rhythmically 'squash' the clay removing any air pockets and lining up clay platelets evenly distributing them to produce a highly plastic, throwable body. This is a lengthy physical but contemplative process which gives me great creative thinking time

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© 2020 by Judith Walker