02 August 2021

Beginner's Corner: Reconstituting Clay

Do you have old, hard, dried out clay? Don't throw it away. Follow these easy steps to reconstitute old clay and bring it back to life!

Although most of our packages of clay are soft and pliable for a long time, we occasionally encounter clay that has become hard, brittle, and dried out. Instead of throwing it away, check out our tutorial (or watch our video) to reconstitute that clay and save it from the trash can.

To reconstitute clay, you will need the following items:

  • Dried out clay
  • Stiff tissue blade
  • Clay machine
  • Acrylic roller
  • Sealable bag or container
  • Clay softener (we use Sculpey)
  • Disposable gloves


1. Using your stiff tissue blade, chop the hardened clay into small pieces—the smaller the better. (Note: if you're watching our video tutorial, most of the chopping occurred off camera.) 


2. At this point, you want to make sure you're wearing gloves. Once chopped, slowly add small amounts of clay softener to your pile of clay pieces and then mix before adding more. By adding a little bit at a time, you'll be able to ensure you're not using too much. When the majority of the clay pieces are covered in softener and they're sticking together, you have enough to reconstitute your clay.


3. Continue to mix the clay and softener together with your hands. As you mix, being to add gradual pressure to your pieces of clay to encourage them to bind together. The end goal is a lump of clay that sticks together. Keep in mind there will still be visible pieces of clay and it will not be smooth at this point.

4. Place your clay in a sealable bag or container. The length of this process varies
—we've experienced hours to days. As you continue to check on your clay throughout its reconstitution process, knead the ball of clay to help bring it back to life.


5. Once your clay no longer crumbles from kneading, you can begin conditioning. This is another good time to have gloves. Remove your clay from the bag or container and place it on your work surface. 


6. Start with an acrylic roller to work the clay into a sheet. You can roll in any direction to bind the pieces together.


7. Eventually, you may want to move your conditioning from the roller to the clay machine. (Note: I have a spare machine that is dedicated to reconstituting clay as it can be a messy process.) Roll your clay through the machine starting on the thickest setting. Gradually decrease the thickness and continue to roll your clay.



8. As the clay binds together, you'll be able to fold the clay and run it through the machine easier. Continue conditioning the clay until you have a smooth, solid sheet. 


9. At this point, you can work with your clay just like any other clay.

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