Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clay Tests

I've been diving into my clay tests head first. Let's start with the line-up, above from gray to white we have, Sheffield Pottery's #92700 Porcelain Clay, Sheffield Pottery's #108300 Elaine's Crystal Cone 6 (I think we all know which Elaine they mean), Standard's #365 English Porcelain Cone 6, Miller's #15 Porcelain, and Laguna's Frost Porcelain.

My love affair with porcelain began when I was in a college with a grayish slop called SIUC domestic porcelain, the summer I graduated my professor gave me a bucket of well aged grolleg porcelain. After one firing the gorgeous color of the clay body had me hooked. When I moved to Atlantic Beach, Florida for a residency at Atlantic Pottery Supply I didn't anticipate that I would start purchasing my clay. I think it only took one bag of well aged porcelain to convince me that I did not need to mix my own clay. This is the first time that I have tried several clays with similar ingredients side by side, however, and I am a little shocked at how different they can be. Working for a clay supplier can evoke all kinds of conversations about clay, which is essentially mud. These conversations drove me nuts, to me clay is clay. And porcelain is of course, porcelain. WRONG! I can't believe how different these clay bodies are. To begin my testing I am making a large bowl, a cup with a handle, a pot with a lid, and some test tiles with each body. I was having a some trouble with large bowls lately which prompted me to start testing all this clay I had sitting around. The large bowls went pretty much as expected the Frost, which is a beautiful white color and turns to glue when you wedge it, flopped over and the grayer clays had a nice plasticity. I have always been pretty puritan about my porcelain and have never wanted to use these darker bodies, but now I am thinking if they fire white and crack less why not?

After I let the bowls dry a little I did some decorating and moved on to the new forms. In between this time I read some great reviews of Miller's #16 which is the dirtier cousin of the #15 I am testing. I have personally never heard of Miller before, but they apparently started somewhere in New York and their clay is now mixed by Laguna in Ohio. So far I am liking the #15, but the handle will be the true test. I am curious to try the #16 now, as it seems well revered. I am also really curious about Laguna's Frost, after drying the clay out a little I threw a decent bowl with it today, so we'll see where that goes. Standard's #365 has been a vast disappointment. I had really wanted to switch to one of their clay bodies, but this clay is mixed too stiff for me and it's gray and blah so far. I am impressed with both of the clays by Sheffield and they might be the underdog of this group, but the Elaine's has already cracked where I cut the foot and that just won't do. The real test of course will be the firing, and I hope to do some of that this weekend. PS I just put a deposit on a used Skutt 1227 in great condition!!! Too excited about this. And finally some mugs in the studio. Bigger than usual.

No comments:

Post a Comment