Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mixing clay the Champion Way

Bruce is putting Epsom salts into three bentonite buckets. One bucket per batch of clay.

We acquired our vintage, pre-stainless steel, Champion dough mixer, three phase motor with a converter (which limits the batches to 100lbs dry),  from an artist living in Black Mountain, NC.  Back in the late 90's we were wishing for a front loading mixer, and we read about this one in a Ceramics Monthly ad.  Score we thought, and off we went to check it out.  Bruce later hooked up our trailer and drove back to pick it up and bring it home.  We have always thought about re painting it, but we have not reached that project yet.  Red?  That would be pretty I think.  The fellow we bought this from said, or our fantasy, that it was used by the military on a ship back in the early 1900's. I don't know if that is true, but it sounds good to us.  Don't you love old tools!

We squeaked in a mixing clay session this past Friday, before the weather went back to being cold, rainy, and snowy.

Bruce is digging out the clay from the mixer.
Bruce is weighing the next 100lb batch of smooth white stoneware clay.

Bruce has been throwing some large stoneware bowls and jugs for the upcoming Hickory pottery show and our April 18Th spring kiln opening.  Below are some large and medium cauldron bowl forms, and four jugs waiting for their handles.


-Rob, Simple Circle Studios said...

Ye Gad! That thing is a beast! Dear me, I just used slang I picked up from high school students. "Beast" is a good thing...I think. And yes, tools are better when they have a story, even if it's not entirely true.

mahanpots said...

Nice beast, Bruce. What's the Epsom Salts do?

Anonymous said...

wow... that thing brings back memories... mixing clay for students in montana with a very similar monster

Bruce and Samantha said...

If we had three phase, this gothic geared monster could probably handle more than 200Lb dry, but we are happy just to have it, even as is, for now. As for Epsom salts, I picked that up from Tom Turner. I use 0.5% to ensure that my clay is flocculated to prevent thixotropy, especially if using something like Neph. Sy. to flux ones clay. Dissolve in a little hot water and add to liquids going into dry mix.

Michael Kline said...

Good to know that there is someone else out there using vintage pre-stainless steel equipment! See ya, cousin!