Asked on Dec 10, 2019

What can I make with centuries old clay dirt?

Maura WhiteJCSharon
+9

Answered

We just had our fireplace rebricked inside, and we used red clay bricks from a great grandmother’s old steps. They bricks are late 1800 to early 1900’s red clay bricks from our area. We had the bricks cut in half to line the back wall of the fireplace. I kept half a 5 gallon bucket full of the clay dust, which was left over. I’d like to make something with it... any ideas?


7 answers
  • Cynthia H
    on Dec 10, 2019

    I would test it for lead. Clay can bind with lead, and it is hard to say how safe it is to use.

  • Betsy
    on Dec 10, 2019

    Hi Rose: You can make a slurry (water and the dust) and maybe make pottery:


    Here are some sites that may help:


    https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/daily/ceramic-supplies/pottery-clay/digging-clay-hand-process-clay-ground/


    Good luck

  • Redcatcec
    on Dec 10, 2019

    Hi Rose,


    This is a really interesting question you have posed.

    After some research, here is a link that might help you, it may be a bit more information than you anticipated:


    https://www.growingupherbal.com/lead-in-bentonite-clay/


    and


    I had to ask what is in Bentonite clay and where it comes from:


    https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-bentonite.htm

  • Johnavallance82
    on Dec 10, 2019

    Hi there,

    You could add it into resin and use to form a table top etc. You could roll wet painted items into it and when dry seal with Mod podge. You could press on to Wet concrete using a design to create original works. You could combine with modeling clay to make ornaments or Coasters etc..........

  • Sharon
    on Dec 11, 2019

    Louisiana creole voodoo says you can sprinkle a line of that brick dust around your house to keep out demons.

  • JC
    on Dec 14, 2019

    Brick dust was used as an abrasive to clean and polish for centuries; the concept was even commercialised (look up "Bath Brick" on wikipedia) and you can sometimes still find them for sale in Europe even today. Of course, these bricks were much softer clay with less sharp aggregate than modern brick, which will just make a scratched up mess if you tried to polish anything with it. It sounds like yours might be the 'old' type, so if you're looking for a traditional elbow grease activity to fill your evening, sieve it through a densely woven piece of cloth, add a couple drops of olive oil, and get a scrubbing!


    Of course, you could leave the hard work to the professionals, and donate it to a living history program at a local museum or state /national park. Especially those that cover military history - it takes a lot of dust to keep Washington's army clean!

  • Maura White
    on Dec 15, 2019

    Why don't you add some water and make a pinch pot out of it?

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