Meadow wanted clay for making cob. However, the yard soil produced a silty clay, rather than a pure clay. So she wondered if she could get more clay from the humus down in the swampy area of their woods (this area needs to be cleaned out to place a path through there, and there is more than can be used in the garden). So this was the experiment. She made a clay slip and is letting it dry.
Here is the humus she started with, in the bucket.
Meadow added water to the bucket and mixed up the humus, then poured it through a sieve that was placed over a second 5-gallon bucket. A lot of organic material was removed from the clay slurry (slip), and was saved for the garden.
After all the slurry was pushed through the sieve, and the organic matter removed, what was left in the bottom of the bucket was this weird ‘fluffy’ type of material, which was spongy and light.
Figuring that the clay was already in the suspension, Meadow removed this fluffy organic material from the bottom fo the bucket and did not add it to the clay slip. Instead, she used it in a separate experiment.
The bucket below the sieve was filled with slip (she hoped), so she poured it into the tarp (an old drawer was used with sides to hold it in from spilling everywhere).
The slip in the trough or tray was then covered over so it could evaporate slowly. If the clay dries too fast, then it can become too hard on the top and still mushy on the inside. Slow evaporation produces less cracking, and a better quality (more evenly made) clay for using in projects.
Whether this clay-from-humus experiment works or not will remain to be seen… keep watch for updates! (see our blog page)