Welcome to Happy Days in the Studio Evermore
Can you handbuild and/or make pots on wheel with it? Yes. Tiles? yes, Sculpture? Yes. Get more new textures? Yes. Cast or press mold? That's just the start. Save time drying, and make repairs that would be impossible in traditional clay.
You'll save fuel and firing time. Turn your scrap paper into pulp, make your own test batches, and have many technical and aesthetic advantages in your repertoire.
Approximately 85% of the 130 most common traditional methods were changed and some overturned completely. Your studio companion, Rosette Gault's seminal discoveries for best practice have stimulated advance and innovation worldwide in ceramic arts.
Convert your favorite clay to a paperclay and most of your glazes should fit.
Compare to the licensed trademarked P'Clay manufactured by Aardvark, Imco in California and Clay Art in Tacoma who distribute to regional clay suppliers. Get porcelain, high mid range and stoneware and even low fire and terra cotta.
Other commercial paperclay is not equal or pre-tested by me. There have been uneven results by independents. Some of these products have flecks of paper visible, or lumps, a no-no deal breaker for me. Paperclay should not crack up when doing wet to dry owing to an unbalanced recipe.
All is not lost if you have this issue. Learn how to add more pulp to what you bought and make the best of it!
FAQ on firing and storage
If you are the person in charge of a traditional clay studio, and wish to have both types of clay, consider a spot for the single fire glazed an set on a shelf high up if mixed kiln. Consider dry storage of scraps see below and how much power and time can be saved. No need to baby things dry and other conveniences that could make life easier and less frustrating. I even started my beginners with paperclay until they got the knack of proper joins (first attempt to attach a handle and it breaks? test before fire- go fix it- save a ton of fuel that way too!)- then advance to intermediate to try traditional clay which they will have to baby- slow dry and fire- but should know about...., and then pick what they like after.
Firing in electric kilns.
Burnout of paperclay has so far been safe by more than 30 years test in my own vented kilns. The smoke time burnout of paper pulp is in first hours- at 450F the same temp as wax resist burnoff. Vent is recommended for sulfur and other gases escaping from the traditional clays. Smoke from paper should be long gone hours before red heat. When the kiln air turns to a very hot oxidizing gas at low bisque your kiln elements are designed for this.
Reduction gas (ie black smoke from tossing too much of something combustible in a hot kiln) from too much fuel not enough oxygen is what contributes to corrosion of elements shortening thier live, CO and soot which I avoid.
Electric kilns are not designed for reduction fires. Some schools teach its ok to fire crumpled newsprint inside during bisque- well this is a problem I won't fire such things. .
Single fire" eliminating the bisque step is possible as glaze is absorbed in green dry paperclay. Just let the pot dry again after dip, spray or brush, wet it too long it will start to deform maybe. Test test first until you know what you have.
Avoid adding so called recycled dry pulp insulation (such as a building material) treated with any fire retardant which is law in some countries- in a your home batch paperclay- fire retardant boron etc in fire generates TOXIC foul fumes and extends the burnout smoking time about 6 hours all the way to the red heat. It seemed like a good idea until.... the firing.... oops.
Safety and Storage Dry
Use fresh batch. Aging not needed because the pulp brings moisture deep inside clay during mix.
Store scraps of paperclay dry not wet! Wet time varies depending on the base clay used and the temperature- weeks to 3-6 month or years.
(Or, of it must be wet- double or triple bag it to avoid finding a heavy brick you cant cut through)
Clays with lots of impurities (- tan, brown, red --- iron, organic matter) and warm weather may start to grow microbes in weeks- molds can grow too- on the outside. It depends- so test first if you have an allergy- only use fresh batch very fresh like in a few days of mix- no time for mold to grow.
Storing wet can cause microbes and some times smell over time. Temperature can matter and the kind of local water can also make a difference. Mold- mildew can grow on any wet clay over time- paperclay or not- so anyone with this concern must mix and use paperclay fresh and let it dry within a few days so theres no time for mold to grow. Also avoid bleach in anything. I know my teachers used to use a few drops.... but I have learned its not wise for skin.
In contrast, paperclay porcelains hardly grow any microbes in 3 months or longer- even years...some of them. To store dry - I slice remainder chunk up - to bread like tiles- that will dry and reconstitute by slaking down in water when Im getting ready to use.
Storing dry is great. Box or bags are light weight and easy. I just make a note of what it is. To test if your dry chip is paperclay- dry- dip in water and LISTEN for a lovely little sound (water soaking in) that lasts a few seconds.