Paperclay: Round 2

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I’m working on another batch of paperclay. After a few steps, I’ve got a slurry of about 25 gallons of overly watery paperpulp. I found a stack of 2’x3′ Direct TV dish boxes and broke them down, using the pressed pulp in-box support cardboard as the source of pulp for this batch. What I’ve done so far: collected pulp source; shredded it by hand, and immersed shredded cardboard in water; let it sit for a week; then, using drill-mounted paint stirrer, ground up the pulp into a slurry.

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As a note, I’ve learned that papercrete uses concrete as a binder, with a 50/50 ratio of pulp to crete being right for most building applications; paperclay is another animal, with all kinds of recipes out there. I’m mulling over the whole thing:

* what is the best source of pulp, for me? I’m looking for one that produces a final product I like, but that fulfills other needs as well: upcycles junk from the waste stream, is free and easy to collect, and appears plentiful and therefore repeatable.

* how can I best grind it up? I’m looking for a method that is cheap or free, using tools I already have or can buy or make for a small investment of time and/or money, but that will devour the pulp into as small a particle size as can be had.

* what kinds of binders am I interested in? I’d like to have a paperclay product that shares properties with actual clay. Not too sloppy with water; not too coarse a texture; possessed of a working time of more than 60 minutes; storable, and sealed and out of the heat. At the same time, I’m looking for a mixture that will air-cure, and that will after curing be permeable to paint, pigments and sealers. Not sure what combination of those values I’ll be able to achieve, but we’ll see.

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