There are very few good things about winter. More sky. Less bugs. and CLAY RECYCLING! A couple of decades ago, my studio door became unlatched on a cold winter night, and my wet pots on the shelf completely dissolved into wonky puddles when they thawed. The little lightbulb in my brain went on. Now I do ice-recycling every winter.
Without a clay mixer or pug mill, I do recycle as I work, (I am a maniac about recycling, especially the special order porcelain I pay $1 per pound for) but whatever scraps I can’t keep up with during the year, I save in bags to put out on days like these… note the thermometer: 11 below zero.
Big dry, hard as a rock lumps of clay… no breaking rock in the hot sun for me: I put my clay outside the studio in metal basins and bowls which have a wide tapered opening – they won’t be broken by expanding ice. Cover with water and put a lid on it to keep the leaves and critters out. Wait a couple of days… the clay will be pulverized by the ice.
Bring it inside and allow it to thaw: the lovely particles of clay will be on the bottom of the pan with water on top, easily syphoned off. Spread the clay on plaster bats, make clay-bows until a wee bit softer than perfect, then lightly wedge or better yet, send it through the clay extruder, and bag it up. Ta da!