Posted by Mary Ellin D'Agostino
I have known for some time that one can revitalize old dried or partially dried cork clay by adding water, letting it sit, and kneading relentlessly. But now that wood clays have supplanted cork clay, many of us want to know how to rejuvenate the wood clays. Since wood clay made an entrance, there have been two brands used and sold by metal clay suppliers. The first was a Japanese brand that came in packages of similar size to the cork clay (about 8 oz). The most commonly sold current brand is from Spain and is called Patwood by Jovi®.
Neither of the wood clays could be successfully rejuvenated by adding water. In fact, I had been having trouble with the Jovi brand sticking to itself even if it was just a little dried out. Adding water did not seem to help. Glycerine didn’t seem to help. Then my friend and colleague Judy Pagnusat said she had tried adding common school glue. That did the trick. She used the Elmer’s® blue school glue. I tried white glue and found the same thing. I also tried rehydrating some completely dried Patwood and found that by adding water, letting it sit for a while, adding glue, and kneading, it came back to its original pliable form.
So, to rejuvenate wood clay, when it gets annoying, just knead in common white glue. If it is really dry, add water and glue. It is a messy process, but the results are worth it.
PS: Thanks to Linda Kaye-Moses for the reminder: Be sure to check out the ingredients and MSDS of the glue you use to make sure it is safe and will not produce hazardous compounds when burned. Elmer’s Glue-All, School Glue, and their blue school glue gel are not particularly hazardous when burned (no hazardous polymerization and the decomposition compounds are CO and CO2), but you do need good ventilation, as you do anytime you burn something. This firing advice is only good for small quantities of burnable core material; if you are going to burn a lot of pieces with cores or very large cores, you need to make sure you have really good ventilation.