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I had problems with the home brew not sticking well until I got it real wet, then it seemed to work a lot better. I'm sure the pros on the forum will be able to go into more detail. I encourage you to mix up a small batch and give it plenty of water to see if you still have the same problem.
"Clay" from your cuttings is not "clay". Rather, it is just very small pieces of fired refractry which has already been vitrified. (i.e. changed on a molecular level...I think).
In any event...it's no longer clay, and I'm sure has different binding properties than clay. I found homebrew mortar to be extremely sticky. To the point that I could place a motared brick against another at relatively close to vertical...hold it in place for a few seconds...and it would hold.