I’m sure many polymer clay users out there can identify with the issue of having an abundance of scrap clay. I personally don’t like the idea of just throwing clay in the garbage, and although I do manage to salvage some of it by working in “like colors”, I all too often end up with bits that when combined will result in something not so pleasing to the eye. The bits of clay that remain at the end of a project are relinquished to the plastic bin I keep under my work table and sometimes I manage to find uses for scrap clay but it seems I always produce more than I can use up. I was continually wondering how the heck I would ever be able to use this stuff up when a lightbulb finally went off. I’ll clue you in to my revelation, but I do have to warn you in advance this is something that is geared towards those of us who possess a “green thumb”.
Right, so now to the good part. Potted plants greatly benefit from having some form of aggregate in the bottom of the planter to help with drainage. At the office where I work myself and a coworker are maintaining a nice collection of plants, a total of 18 plus the 4 I have at my desk, and the number is increasing. As we were adding plants to the office we kept going out and buying bags of small pea gravel, which although cheap, still costs money. One night after David and I spent some time breaking apart overgrown plants and repotting them I got home and started cleaning up under my work table. I pulled out my trusty plastic bin of scrap clay and was looking at just how much clay was in there when it hit me. Duh! Why are we buying all of this pea gravel when I have a source of aggregate right here in my own home? To make my scrap clay aggregate I did the following.
1. Condition and roll out a large sheet of scrap clay on the thickest setting of your clay conditioning machine.
2. Lay the sheet of clay onto a baking sheet.
3. Use a blade, or as I did, use an old pizza cutter to cut a rough grid into the sheet of clay.
4. Bake at the recommended temperature and time.
5. Remove from oven and let cool.
6. Break the cooled sheet of clay into chunks. The clay should break along the cuts you made with the blade or pizza cutter.