Mining Indigenous Clay
Do you want to try your hand at mining your own clay?
~ Note ~ It is important to remember indigenous clays can contain lead;
prior to using fired pieces functionally, you may want to test for lead content.
You can purchase lead test strips from you local clay distributor.
~ Materials Needed ~
1) 2 Five gallon buckets
2) 60 mesh screen to sieve with (window screen works fine)
3) You will need something to dry the clay in:
Preferably an old pillow case or a piece of canvas or the leg of an old pair of jeans
~ Drying your clay on plastic will not allow the excess water to drain properly~
4) A place outdoors to dry
~ Let's Begin ~
1) Fill one of your five gallon buckets with your clay
2) Fill the second five gallon bucket 1/2 full of water
3) Gradually add the clay from your first bucket into the
bucket with the water,
You want to end with a very liquid clay/water mixture consistent with that of a watery clay slip. Stir this mixture vigorously until well mixed
In this part of the process you are actually suspending
the clay in the water.
4) Place the screen over the now empty clay bucket,
gradually pour the clay/water mixture though the screen,
sieving out all the excess debris,
(Be careful not to break rocks and debris into your mixture)
5) Once you have the clay sieved, set aside and let sit overnight
6) The clay and water should separate.
The clay will settle on the bottom of the bucket and the water
will be on the top
Pour off excess water just to the top of the clay
The top surface of the clay may have organic matter, if so,
scrape off and sponge off excess water.
7) Pour the clay into the pillow case, fold it over and push down,
You will see excess water coming through the case (this is what you want).
For best results leave the pillow case and clay on the ground to dry.
The ground actually helps to pull the water out of the clay.
At this point, the rest of the drying process may take 2 or 3 days to reach
a workable consistency. Check periodically, continue leaving on the ground to dry.
Your clay is ready when there is enough plasticity for forming and working
8) Once workable, pull all of the clay out of the bag and wedge
9) To test for plasticity roll out a coil from your clay and bend,
if no severe cracking takes place, your clay has the right amount of plasticity
The next step will be determining the type of clay you have
and the firing range