Using Clay Scraps

POV- you have just created a clay slab that you are super proud of! You place your cutters as closely together as possible so that you use as much of it as you can. Try as you might to be careful, you will always inevitably have a leftover skeleton that equates to a usable amount of clay. One of the more commonly asked questions I receive as a maker is what I do with these leftover clay scraps from my projects? I have come up with a few ways that I like to recycle my scraps and will share those with you today.

I would like to touch on storing your clay leftovers. If the scraps have glitter remnants or anything in addition to the clay, I will wrap them in a little bit of cling film. I store scraps arranged by color in a plastic container that has sections or dividers. That way they stay dust free, organized, and easily accessible.

If you have clay that is dirty and not reusable for actual pieces, I like to save these pieces to add to my “cleaning ball of clay”. I like to keep clay around that I can use to clean surfaces. Perhaps there is a pesky glitter spill, or stray lint- this ball of clay is great for retrieving unwanted items from your work surfaces. Additionally, I like to use this clay by running it through my pasta machine. After I have worked with a dark color, I will use this clay to clean out any remnants of that color that may remain so as not to taint the next color I will be conditioning.

One of the most common ways to reuse scraps is for color mixing. If you want to adjust a color that you are working on, maybe by adding a little white or black to lighten or darken a color, scraps are a great way to do this. Do not open a brand new bar of clay when you may have something that will do the trick already open

Additionally, you can use your leftover clay by mixing them together to create new colors. You may be surprised what you end up with once you start mixing certain colors together that can add all new and unique colors to your work.

Another way that I enjoy reusing scrap clay is with a technique I like to refer to as a “scrap chop”. Gather scrap colors that you would like to use together and place them in a pile. Using a tissue blade, start chopping up all of the scraps.

Mix them as you chop so that the colors incorporate together well. Once you have the pieces chopped to your liking, start smooshing the pieces together to create a clay log, much like you would for a cane.

Using your tissue blade again, slice your clay log and lay pieces in a pattern of your choice. Roll out the slab you have created, and then you will have a funky patterned slab to create with.

I have saved my personal favorite way to use scraps for last. I call this method a “scrap slab”! This is a simple process but always yields exciting results. I particularly enjoy using this technique with scraps that have glitter, paint, or patterns on them. I start with a clean, conditioned clay slab in a solid color that compliments the scraps I am using. I prefer Sculpey Premo for this technique as it has a slightly sticky texture. I make the base slab a little thicker than I normally would as it will be rolled out thinner later. I then take the scraps I want to use and lay them out flat, placing them on the slab.

I experiment with arranging the scraps on top of the slab, leaving peekaboos of the color beneath. Once I have the scraps arranged to my liking, I will roll them out a bit by hand before rolling them in my machine. I can then use this scrap slab to cut out brand new shapes to make earrings.

If you do not make jewelry, these methods could be used in various other ways as well. I hope you try some of these techniques! Happy making!

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