September 5th, 2008

Life is real, life is earnest,
And the grave is not its goal
From dust thou art to dust returnest
Was not written of the soul.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For some reason I memorized that quote in middle school, and it remains implanted in my brain. It often emerges in the swirls of clay dust which surround me when I am in the process of recycling clay.
Always wear a mask when doing this!
The process consists of breaking down and re-wetting scraps of dried clay, slaking them in water until they are completely saturated

and soft throughout, then drying them on a plaster slab until they are ready to be transformed into sculpture. This hunk is a year's worth of saved clay scraps. On top is a recognizable reject from an old sculpture that didn't make it into the kiln… an arm or a thigh.
I let it all dry out into a giant jello mold the size of a 30 gallon garbage can.
Just kidding- it IS a 39 gallon garbage can… then break it down with the sledgehammer to re-wet it evenly. Otherwise it clumps and clots and is unworkable.
I need a new, long handled sledgehammer, but I don't do this often enough to make me run out and buy one.

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