That's a Ton of Clay

Here at Green Dog Studio we use three to four tons of clay a year.  At the end of 2015 we made our year end clay purchase that gets us started making pots in the new yew year.  We get clay at Armadillo Clay Supply in Austin, Texas.  Luckily Armadillo is pretty close to us.  Armadillo is located in south Austin and we are just north of Gonzales.  We can get to Armadillo in about an hour which is really convenient for us.  Even though going to get clay is fairly simple to do it's still somewhat of an ordeal.  We usually take full advantage of being in the big city and have a little fun and a good meal while we are out and about.

This is what the truck looks like with 2,100 pounds of clay in the back.  That is a touch over the payload of our truck but it seems to handles it well.  You can certainly feel the load as it effects the whole truck from the feel of the ride to handling and breaking.  You can even tell by looking that there's something very heavy in the back.  

When we picked up clay this time we had just gotten back from a show and still had the shelves and tent in the back.  The guys bring the clay out with a fork lift and they put the pallet at the same height as the tale gate and pretty much slide it right into the back of the truck.  I have big sheets of cardboard in the back of the truck so it makes sliding fifty pound clay boxes around pretty easy.  There are 42 fifty pound boxes of clay in there.  Looks heavy huh.  I really dislike clay day but over the years it's becoming an easier chore...partially thanks to Charlie and Grant.

When we get to the studio I back up to the patio to start unloading.  This is a restaurant supply storage rack my potter friend Charlie Pritchard of Luling Icehouse Pottery gave me.  We put it down by the tailgate and start sliding clay out and stacking on the rack.  It took sometime to figure the best stacking configuration but finally it came together.  Eight boxes per layer works well on this rack and each layer of clay adds up to 400 pounds.

400 pounds
800 pounds
1,200 pounds
1,600 pounds
2,100 total pounds
Here is the clay slotted in with the pallet jack.  I put 2 by 4's on the jack  because the rack is slightly taller than the reach of the jack.  I also put some supports under the rack to help support the dead weight of the clay.  It may be over kill but it feels right and I don't know if Charlie has another just lying around.

After the clay is all stacked up nicely we bring in the big guns.  Thanks to Grant we have a pallet jack in the studio and it is one of the handiest tools we have.  Just jack it up and slot it into position and clay unloading is done.  We use the pallet jack for moving everything we can.  If the jack will fit under it we will always opt for the jack rather than trying to grunt things all over the studio...everything from clay to work tables, the futon, the flat file, the pug mill and even the wood burning stove once.  It's a bit hard to stow but it makes up for it in convenience.

Using a garden hoe makes getting the boxes pretty easy.  The cardboard is covered with a fine mist of dust as is everything when you live four miles down a dirt road.  Just hook the box with the hoe and give a sort of glides out of the truck.  It's like playing shuffleboard with fifty pound biscuits.