So I finally bit the bullet. After a year or more of going back and forth thinking whether I should buy a pugmill, I finally did. I got the Peter Pugger VPM-9.. which is their small model having a capacity of 25 pounds of clay. This should be plenty for my usage.
For the last year or so, I have been debating with myself. I am not a full time potter, so do I really need a pugmill? If you want to know what was going on my head read on... You will see how I tackle and convince myself along the way. I guess if you have your mind set on something, you will convince yourself one way or another. This could be boring for some so just skip it and watch the video of the pugmill in action. It is noisy only when the vacuum is on, otherwise very quite.
The question of size came in because I don't have a lot of room to put a large size pugmill. The VPM-9 seemed like a decent size, 3 feet in length. Earlier I thought I would keep it in my garage rather than my studio. But I figured (with the help of my wife, Reema) that if I were going to use it often to condition, recycle and wedge clay, it would make more sense to have it close by in the studio. My large quantity glaze chemicals had to move to the garage instead. I am not glaze testing much and I am now set of using only on certain glazes, so the need to access the large chemicals is less. Problem solved!
The big question of price came in. Since I am not doing pottery full time, my consumption of clay is probably 1/2 - 3/4 ton a year and it is increasing. I had realized it would be quite a while till recycling clay and saving clay money would make the pugmill pay for itself. Clay is pretty cheap. But then there is the guilt of throwing it away. Because of trying to use of up clay, my slip decoration technique came about. Some of my slab pieces are also the result of just trying to use scrap clay. I still wasted a bunch and not to forget the time I spend in reclaim. On the other hand, having the pugmill would definetly be easier on my hands, neck, wrists and shoulders. I wouldn't be wasting much clay. It would be environmentally right to reuse than to dump. I also think I would be more productive, rather than spending time wedging and weighing clay. With the 3 inch pug I get from the pugmill, 2inches of length is exactly the weight I use for my mugs. :)
OK.. I am convinced... bring it on!
One of the main reasons I wanted to get one was to give me freedom to experiment and not worry about clay getting wasted. I use the extruder a lot and handbuild too. I feel a lot of clay gets wasted in that process, rather than throwing on the wheel. Last year, I purchased the expansion box for my extruder, and I had not been able to try new dies for it. Out of a 25 pound bag of clay, I got one 18 inch sculpture form and the expansion box has 10 pounds in it that I cannot extrude out. Once that clay is removed from the expansion box, it is very hard to reclaim it. It takes three times as long to reclaim that 10 pounds than to extrude. I stopped using the expansion box. But with the pugmill there is no guilt of wasting clay or spending time in reclaiming clay.
I bet this opens the door a lot of new work. I am really excited to see the direction my work takes.
More importantly I would like to thank several potters and friends who have answered all my bugging questions regarding pugmills and the VPM-9 in particular
and I am sure I am missing some, so Thank you all!!!