Pugmill rocks!!

Pugmill rocks!!

Hi there

Thanks for popping in. Busy Monday. Always starts well in the SHAC, and today was no different. What a great way to tee up the week, with a lovely bunch of like-minded buddies, doodling and colouring in our Hippy Chicks! If you missed it, then you can always catch up here:

You may have caught me telling you about a pottery breakthrough I had yesterday. Well, #madeinmay friends! Sunday was a big day in the life of Barb the potter! Let me explain…

Years ago, when I started tooling up and collecting all the things you need if you want to have your own pottery studio, we invested in whatโ€™s called a PUGMILL. What is a pugmill? I hear you ask. Well, itโ€™s like a giant mincer, if you like. Before you can use clay, you have to wedge it, knead it, warm it up and get rid of all the air-pockets. But itโ€™s hard on the hands, the wrists, the elbows and – most of all – the thumbs. So I never really have been able to wedge as I should, so to speak. Hereโ€™s where the Pugmill comes in. It kneads and wedges the clay for you. Quite simply, you put the clay in one end, in the feed-chute, and pull down on a lever, pushing the clay through a cavity with a huge screw in it. The screw kneads and folds the block of clay, and spits out a perfectly wedged clay sausage. If youโ€™re quick, you can even figure out how much a 4 inch sausage length weighs (1lb exactly), and wire it off as it comes out of the pugmill. Saves massively on the wrists – and weighing the clay! Also, itโ€™s great for re-cycling clay. You collect all the offcuts, the bits you donโ€™t use, keep them damp, then push them down the chute to remix.

Anyway. This old pugmill has been sitting in the corner for a few years now. We bought it second hand, and it needed a good clean. Was full of dried out, cruddy clay. Long story short, we never got round to it. Itโ€™s a performance, and we just never found time for that particular performance – until Saturday. I asked Dave if he might help me with the pugmill, because I was gathering a fair bit of scrap clay, and it would be good to recycle it. Also, I thought we might try the wedging trick, because my thumbs are hurting something chronic…

Dave took it apart, gave it a good clean, and we fed a huge fresh pack of flecked clay down the chute. It takes quite a lot of clay before the sausage appears, I can tell you! Are you getting a picture yet? Letโ€˜s see if the picture in your head is anything like the thing in our garage!

Ready to see Dave in action? This is golden….

ย ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. The game-changer. Loads of one pound clay balls, all neatly wedged and rolled, ready to throw on the wheel within minutes (there are about 20 more on the shelf behind me, ready to go too.)…

And thatโ€™s when the magic happened. WHAT A DIFFERENCE !! I never would have believed it. I had heard that pugmilled clay is good and even, and excellent for throwing, but Iโ€™d NEVER have believed HOW different! I was able to throw twice as fast and twice as tall instantly. The clay body was less wobbly, it felt firmer, it seemed to shape better. AND NO AIR POCKETS. Honestly, to anybody who is setting out on a pottery journey, the pugmill is a game-changer. I suppose it helps, having learned the manual way, having wedged and pounded the clay by hand, to really appreciate the difference. But it really was astounding. I had been avoiding the wheel, because I just couldnโ€™t seem to get any height on my bowls, and even centering the clay had become a challenge. Yesterday, bang in the centre every time, and up went the walls. I couldnโ€™t quite believe it. Kept thinking I was on a lucky roll. But pot after pot, bowl after bowl, they just kept doing what I wanted them to do. I was bowled over!! ๐Ÿคช ๐Ÿคช ๐Ÿคช So much so, that I am going out tonight, to try again. Iโ€™ve got a lot of clay rolled up into balls and waiting!

I know. Donโ€™t say it. โ€˜Why did you leave the old pugmill in the corner for years?โ€™ Iโ€™ve been asking myself the same question all day. Same reason thereโ€™s an all singing all dancing sewing machine upstairs, still in the box. T I M E and F E A R. You think you wonโ€™t know what youโ€™re doing, so you donโ€™t even try.

Gottago! Gottaloadaclaytothrow!

Love always

Barb x x x

25 thoughts on “Pugmill rocks!!

  1. All this pottery talk reminds me of my sixth form college days when I first started on the pottery road. I used to love all things pottery and even did it at evening classes and took my Mum with me – she was a pottery fiend too. The pugmill machine took me back a good few years. Love all your pottery pots done on the wheel. I was more of a hand built potter, I have lots of my efforts all around the house still. I made 8 tiles for insetting onto/into a coffee table and my present from Mum and Dad one Christmas was a hand built coffee table which housed my tiles beautifully – I still have it some 50 years later. Great memories. Happy “throwing”

  2. Isnโ€™t it wonderful when you finally crack it and wonder why on earth you hadnโ€™t done/used it before. It must be a bit like learning to sew by hand and then using a sewing machine you wonder how on earth you ever managed before. So pleased for you and hope your journey continues well.

  3. Ah yes.. the old Pugmillโ€ฆit actually came out of a School near Doncaster I believe โ€ฆnot exactly an impulse buy, but none the less it will prove to be invaluable .
    As for the photo. I look like I am about to explode, with me Arthritic hands and kneesโ€ฆ perhaps there should be some royalties accredited to this pic. ยฃโ€™s . Dave xx

  4. It’s weird how fear can hold you back sometimes. I remember buying a gel press and paints and it was still pristine in its pack for about 6 months until I used one at a workshop, then I wondered why I’d been so scared of using it!! Happy potting x

  5. what a fabulous breakthrough- especially as it was something you could do together. At this rate there will be loads of pottery at the Open Days for us all to admire & buy. All you have to do now is to be brave & get your sewing machine out & have a go. Mine had been put away since before Christmas until last week when I had a message from my eldest granddaughter to take it with me when we went over last Sunday – she needed a skirt taking in so that it could be worn without falling down. Its a costume for the show tomorrow night – the skirt turned out to be labelled a size 18 & she is about a 10/12 but we managed it without too much hassle. I have left the machine out with the plan to do some more sewing but there is only 24hrs on the day & lots of things I want to play with after seeing all the lovely ”madeinmay” projects on the FB pages

  6. Love the pug mill !!! picture of your Dave is super also .So glad to hear how the pugmill will enable you to do more pottery without the pain of pain limiting your creativity !
    It reminds me of a present Santa brought to my daughter over 40 years ago of a playdough extruder .Her Dad’s friends called over to play a football game on St Stephens day and watching grown men having more fun with the playdough extruder than the child was hilarious!

  7. But what good is a Pugmill without a Dave ?! I wonder who and why itโ€™s called a pugmill – off to Google.

    Dave – do you think thereโ€™s a subtle hint about the sewing machine in this blog โ€ฆ. Xx

  8. Well done you and Dave. Great pic,,!!!! Those pots will go well at Ditton.
    Had a good day today, got more done than anticipated and pleased with the result. Maybe I will get my sewing machine out again now that things have calmed down. I have lost nearly 2 stone in weight and have to remake some garments. Wish me luck.

  9. I think it is a crafter ‘thing’ to have something(s) which we mean to get around to using but somehow never do. Love the picture of Dave and his sausage. who needs the gym when you have a pugmill?!!!

  10. Oh wow – don’t you just love it when everything comes together?! (A bit like me & the Gelli plate – I could not pull a decent print at first, then a year later on the retreat everything came together beautifully!) Happy days!

  11. After seeing that photo, the rest of Barb’s blog seems to have faded!
    Some men have feet of clay, but Dave has a very impressive sausage!

  12. Oh Barbara, you do make me laugh, and as for that picture of Dave – I am lost for words! So glad you found your pugmill, it must help enormously. Happy Potting and congrats to you and Dave xxx

  13. Hi Barb, thanks for such a brilliant and funny blog post. Everyone needs a Dave with a Pugmill and a Clay Sausage! ๐Ÿ™‚ Love your bowls, and you are certainly enjoying your creativity with pottery. Take care everyone, wet and cold. Bx

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