How To Find Clay In Your Backyard

If you’re trying to figure out how to find clay in your backyard you may need to know a thing or two. Working with clay can be a wonderful experience, both on the wheel and working with your hands. The most caring design, though, isn’t one made with clay at any store – it’s made with the clay you find and prep on your own. 

Clay is actually far more abundant than you may think, with a wide variety of clay available, it can be incredibly easy to hunt down this material, the problem is it might not be in your backyard. If it isn’t, you’re going to have a significantly more difficult time trying to find raw and natural clay for your projects.

Finding the Clay

Your best bet when you’re wondering how to find clay in your backyard is if it isn’t clearly sticking out of your backyard in a lump, is to look up your area on the internet for clay deposits. You could be sitting on one big clay deposit, or you could just be out of luck.

It is important to note, though, that clay isn’t going to spring from your yard like a bursting volcano, you’ve got to hunt for this abundant resource. It’ll almost completely blend in with the dirt around it, but the clay will be smooth and silky.

Clay isn’t usually difficult to find if it is around. Your best bet is to look near any waterways on your property, any lakes and streams should have a large deposit of clay in them depending on where you are in the world. 

Clay can be multiple colors but the most common coloration is a combination of light and dark brown. You can tell it’s clay by placing it in water and either mixing it with a machine or letting it sit for a day or two. If it dissolves into a smooth, almost slimy liquid or mush than it’s likely clay. If you’ve felt slip before you’ll know exactly how it feels. 

Prepping Clay Properly

Once you’ve found the clay you can then start to work it. The first thing you’ll need to do is dig it out and separate it from the rest of the dirt and mud. 

This isn’t always an easy process, but if you don’t do it your masterpiece could explode when you try to fire it. Which is both dangerous and devastating, especially if you put a lot of work into it. 

First, you need to let it dry completely, this is going to take some time, but putting it on a concrete slab may minimize that time for you. This solidifies everything in the clay along with the clay. 

Then you can soak the clay in water, at this point the clay will turn into a mush called slip. This makes it easier to get out the unwanted bits like rocks and twigs. 

You get the debris out mostly by running the slurry, or clay water, through a mesh screen, the smaller the mesh the smaller the debris that is caught on the way out. This makes your clay safer to use, and much easier to turn into a finished product. 

Potential Hazards

Potential hazards from getting your own clay aren’t massive. Most of the hazard comes from potentially leaving debris in your clay. 

You should always be careful when you’re getting clay though, even in the backyard you could fumble upon unwanted animal company such as ground wasps or burrowing animals. 

Hazards of finding and cultivating your own clay don’t go much further than that though as long as you stay on your own property. It’s not a difficult process to find out how to find clay in your backyard.

The slip created by the clay during the separation process can also be a great glaze if you’re looking for something easy to work with, quick, and cheap but still functional. Many professional potters work with their own clay and glaze with their own slip taken right from the ground, be they’re also used to being wary of the potential dangers of their area.

Learning Experience

Children love getting dirty, so why not get dirty, learn something, and make something? Getting kids involved with the process of finding, and cultivating clay is a wonderful opportunity to teach them about art and hard work.

It also gives them a great reason to get dirty and have a load of fun outside. You can always permit children to play with clay while being supervised, so long as you don’t let them fire the clay on their own. 

Don’t ever let kids eat the clay they’re working with there could easily be microscopic debris that is dangerous to ingest. Always ensure there is supervision when you’re letting kids play with clay of any kind.

Thankfully, unlike with fire pits, you don’t have to worry about if you can dig for clay unless it’s not your property or other laws prohibit you. 

If You Don’t Have Clay in Your Yard

Clay is probably in your backyard, but what if you’re part of the unlucky few who don’t get to have a clay deposit in their backyard? You might be out of luck with the backyard clay finding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with clay at all. 

You could always purchase the clay you need instead of getting it out of the ground yourself, or you could find another way to legally get your own clay on your own. So long as you are very careful not to trespass on other people’s property while you do it. 

Finding Clay Elsewhere

Public land is a great place to start looking for clay, though we at Own The Yard do believe you should leave only footprints and take only memories when it comes to the great outdoors. We also know that getting clay from the ground yourself can be an interesting experience. 

If you do take this route instead of just purchasing the clay be sure you bring the tools of the trade, a map, at least one shovel and a bucket so you can be sure you’ll be able to get the clay back to where you want it. 

Local clay can be some of the best clay in your area to work with. Thankfully it’s easy to find and simple to prep.

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, if you’re trying to learn how to find clay in your backyard you’re probably going to be successful. Unlike gold, about 80 percent of landmass has clay in it, so regardless of where your backyard is you have a good chance of having clay available in your backyard. 

If you can’t find clay or the charts say there isn’t clay in your area, you can always look elsewhere for a little bit of dirty family fun. You never know what kind of interesting things someone can make until you put clay in front of them and ask them to get creative. 

Clay is best found near waterways, which makes it easier to pinpoint a place that you should look if you live near water, but it doesn’t have to be right on the water. Clay can be found inland a bit, and with such a large availability no wonder you’re trying to find clay in your backyard.