Gathering & Refining Local Clay

On Thanksgiving and without a change of shoes we journeyed deep into the wilderness to gather clay from a sacred and ancient ritual site once used by the Navajo. Just kidding, it was Thanksgiving though and we didn’t bring a change of shoes.

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The site we chose was just a few minutes away and had a good cut into the side of a hill which gave a good spectrum of colors of clay.

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My son helped and it was a great bonding experience to be out digging the clay.

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Here is our haul, 4 gallon bags of different color clays (or sand or dirt).

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You can see the difference in colors a bit better in this shot.

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I’ve got the first test batch going using the water extraction method. It was very “clay-like” right out of the bag and a medium red. I’ve got a very dark red and an orange red and a very light orange”ish” which is the most sandy of the four.

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I saturated the clay for 24 hours and strained through a piece of fiberglass window screen. Do you think that is enough or does it need to be finer? Anyways its drying now outdoors and I’ll see what we come up with when it gets to the right moisture level. I think I should be able to add this to my white body clay to give it some good color even if its unusable. Or maybe us as slip. I’ve got 3 more batches to go. I’ll post some results as they come.

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