YouTube members have frequently asked me how I keep my clay clean – especially since I have kept some of the clay for over 7 years. The key to saving clay for the long haul when you're frequently using it is to not be stingy and cut out the contaminated clay.
- Darker colors (black, grey) and strong colors (blue, red, brown) easily melt down and completely mask any contaminating colors.
I find it best to melt as much down at one time to further dilute the contaminating colors. It also helps average out the clay consistency – hard (old) and soft (new) clays melt down into a perfect blend.
- Once a lighter color (white, ivory, yellow, orange) is contaminated, expect a noticeable difference between that and a new package of plasticine. Keep it separated from new clay.
Use the contaminated lighter colors to create new colors. Embrace the fact that that clay will never be the same color again. Once you are done with a project, you can always melt it down into another color as well!
- When skinning the top layer of clay that is dusty or contaminated with color, save it in a pile of scraps. This can later be melted down and used to create gray! From the entire claylist project (almost 300 pounds of clay) when disassembled, I only had about four pounds of clay that couldn't be used for anything else. So I now use that clay as a clock stand 🐸
I must note that when melting down clay, it seems to almost always create a slightly less oily clay, making it a harder substance. I like it somewhat soft, and will add a touch of mineral oil if necessary. I wouldn't add it while it is molten as it will just rise to the top, Just kneed it in when rolling it out into sticks for storage.