Tuesday, 24 April 2012

At last, a little sunshine!

Finally, a beautiful day today..a few clouds here and there, but lots of gorgeous spring sunshine. I wish I had some pictures of new work to show here, but the clay situation is still distracting me and preventing me getting on with glaze firing. I really thought I'd solved the recent problems by mixing smooth stoneware clay in with my coarser, groggy stuff. Well, it's perfectly fine when wet and soft, but as soon as it starts to firm up it becomes unworkable again, even with a large proportion of smooth vs. rough clay. It quickly becomes completely non-plastic and just falls apart when wedging. Frustrating to say the least, and I've never had such difficulties with clay before (except after it's been frozen).. I think maybe I'm paying the price for buying a slightly cheaper clay, which has too much sand in it, and not enough plastic ball clay etc. Anyone else out there had similar problems I wonder?

So today I fetched some more expensive clay, Earthstone Original (ES5), which I know is a reliable body as I've mixed it before with the Potclays original raku very successfully. It makes a lovely, groggy mix, very easy to throw with..I have Yo Thom to thank for this recipe, found in the book "Techniques Using Slips" by John Mathieson.

I'm also happy to have found a possible source for the French stoneware clay which I've really enjoyed throwing with in the past. It comes from St Amand en Puisaye and is a very dark, grey colour when wet. When bisque fired, the organic impurities burn out and it turns a very nice pinky buff colour. It has some iron in it, but not too much, and takes salt very well..also gives nice orange and red colours with shino glazes.

Just to add a little colour :)

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