Monday, September 5, 2011


Here are a few photos of how I process my "free" local materials. Free money-wise, expensive in labor. I'm currently processing a bunch of red clay, but the same process goes for the ash. Fortunately the granite I obtain is already a fine powder and needs no further processing. I use a wet-sieving process that doubles as washing for the wood ash. For the clay it keeps the dust down and keeps me from losing fine particles as dust. It takes 2 barrels/buckets of equal size and various sized sieves.
I start by filling a barrel 1/3-1/2 full of material. For red clay I just cover material with water, for ash I fill the whole barrel. I let the clay sit overnight and then mix it into a slurry with a drill-mixer. For the ash I stir it up and sieve out the charcoal lumps and let it sit overnight. The next day the ash will have settled and I'll pour off the excess water. From here on the process is the same.

The first sieve is an old kitchen sieve...probably like 8-10 mesh, on top of a clean, empty barrel. Fill the sieve about halfway and shake as much through as possible.

I use a hose nozzle set on shower to force the rest through the sieve. This is why you only fill the bucket halfway...the rest will fill with water that will be poured off after it settles. This is beneficial for the ash washing, just waste water for the red clay.

The remnants. Wash, rinse, repeat. Rinse out the barrel when finished and sieve back into that one the next day. The ash needs 5-6 hours minimum to settle, the red clay settles much faster. I prefer to just do it once a day though, easier for me. I start with a kitchen sieve, then 30 mesh, 50, 60, 80. After I'm done sieving I'll let it settle, pour off the excess water and pour it into sheets in my drying racks.

The ash barrel. The paddle is for mixing...and irreverent students. You don't wanna touch this stuff, I wear rubber kitchen gloves.


1 comment:

ang design said...

thanks brandon.. always there with the handy steps!