Having now done some pottery I understand the difference between the bucket for reclaiming your earth clays and the polymer clay version. Last year or the year before I broke down and set up plastic shoeboxes for my scraps. I do a lot of claying and it still took me years of one bucket or, more recently, one bucket and a few gallon zipper bags, before I got to this stage. I dutifully labeled my boxes with the colour groups I work with and started sorting my big bucket into them. All new scraps and cane ends got dumped in.
This summer I have a little help in the studio and my help volunteered to process the scraps. We saved the better cane bits because the students love those but all of the rest of the colours got divided into 5 or 10 groups per colour and mixed until they became colours. We ended up with dozens of sheets of clay, in dozens of colours, and weighing in around 15 pounds of new-to-me clay.
From the new clay we did a kids event, the canes for some fairy houses, and the houses themselves. The inside of the houses are pre-baked blobs of very muddy scrap clay.
How did we store the end products? In blocks back in the boxes, separated by bits of wax paper.
After a season of classes, craft shows and making beads and canes for sale in my Etsy shop… I have a lot of scrap clay. I’ve gotten better about how it gets used and keeping it separated in rough colour groups so it’s even fairly useful scrap clay.
It’s still a lot of it.
This means there’s a little bit of just random playing around as I remind myself that you have to do some doodling in order to get new ideas and learn new techniques. The other day was spiral patterns in scraps a couple of different ways.
Mind you, I’m not a fan of my filigree attempts and this was a really ugly Stroppel cane variation but it did accomplish the mission: doodling with scrap clay.
If you want to make ornaments like this, hit the thrift store and get some plain glass ones and then dig into your scrap pile. There are relevant tutorials by kind people out there:
I admire the clayers who make fabulous, flawless kaleidoscopes. Mine don’t usually make me happy and it always seems like a shame to waste perfectly good Skinner blends and clay when I could make a really nice flower cane. I do, however, worry less about what I do with my scraps because, really, who cares? I have so many. And I am not going to swirl them all.
A few handfuls are getting turned into fun k’scope blends. The two brighter ones were first tries and will look cute covering Easter eggs. The blue green one turned out pretty darned nice, with a good variety of complexities. I always call this sort of work cut and paste because you literally mix, reduce, cut, recombine or paste and then repeat.