Welcome to my blog and thanks for reading. I post as often as I can listing upcoming events, interesting projects I am working on and some tips or two on using my favourite material - clay! If there is something you would like me to blog about, please send me a note. Please visit my website for more images of my work and an updated listing of events and happenings - http://www.taralynnefranco.com/

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A day of clay mixing

After a busy year of making I was out of my very special chocolate brown earthenware clay and it was that time again to spend the day mixing up a new batch. After ordering the materials a day in advance, my day began yesterday when I set out about 6am to head to Brantford to pick up my "secret" ingredient for the clay. I then spent a few hours running around with the twins at the park while my sister was at an appointment and finally headed to PSH to pick up the dry materials at about 10am. And then the fun began.

I start with about 400 lbs of dry materials - primarily clays - red art, ball clay and so on. Added to that is about 120 lbs of other materials including colourants, grog and organic matter. This is dry mixed in the industrial mixer. Many of the materials come in 50 lb bags so it is a lot of lifting - from the car to a cart and into the mixer. While I am weighing the materials, my dry reclaim I have saved over the year is slaked down in water and added once all the dry ingredients are in and have been dry mixed thoroughly. > Water is then added slowly while the mixer is running. Once it seems like the proper consistancy has been achieved, the mixer runs for about a half and hour or more switching between the forward and the backward position. This isn't a time for rest ... while this is happening, I am putting the dry materials I didn't use back in the car and preparing for bagging of the materials. I continuously check the clay and add water if required. The clay is mixed wetter than I think I need it as the clay particles continue to absorb water even after it is bagged.

Then it is time to bag. I love the clay when it is freshly mixed - this is the best part of the process. It is very aromatic, a beautiful chocolate colour and has the most wonderful consistency. This is even more tiring than loading the mixer especially near the end when you are scraping the last bits. By this time I need to really pump myself up as it is quite a job. Bags are filled and stacked onto a cart. Before loading the car I clean the mixer and the mixing room. In all I made 27 bags of clay - likely around 20 - 25 lbs a bag - Phew!! They go into the van and then into the studio. Another year of clay begins ....

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