Friday 28 June 2013

Rainy days, new clays.

The weather has turned rather nasty here..quite chilly and lots of heavy rain. Not normally ideal weather for throwing pots, but I've had a couple of good days in the workshop. This is partly because I have a new clay which seems to be very pleasant to throw with; ES60 smooth textured crank from Valentines Clays Ltd. It's an open textured, coarse stoneware which can be used for hand building and sculpture too, but it's not so rough that it's painful on the skin. Fires 1280 to 1300 and appears to contain a little iron which may give it some colour in wood firing. If the glaze firings are satisfactory, I may well stick with this body as I am rather fed up of mixing clays and the endless wedging involved!

I've also tried a bag of Oxidising St Thomas, which has a lovely light brown colour and creamy texture (it almost looks edible) but is a little too smooth for my liking. I find clays with a fair amount of grog better suit the forms I make and don't collapse so easily.

Today I also discovered a new way to throw with the recycled and mixed clays I've had so many problems with. When firm, they became too non-plastic to wedge and simply broke apart, so I tried throwing with very soft, saturated clay and using the minimum of slip as lubrication. I found to my surprise that it's not so difficult to pull the clay up with barely any slip on the clay and that just wetting my hands a little was sufficient to stop the pot catching. I have read many times that one should throw with as little water as possible, but with many smoother clays, that proved extremely difficult. The coarser clays seem to make this easier as the surface isn't so tacky. So, I'm happy that all my recycled clay isn't going to be wasted!

Here is a tea caddy I threw this afternoon:

I used a metal rib to add the swirl pattern and the lid is partially cut through with a needle. I will do the final cut once it's leatherhard.

I love doing these closed forms, because once the air is trapped inside you can really play around with the shape and apply alot of pressure to the outside with tools. I think I'll make some more of these tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.


  1. It's a sweet looking tea caddy. : ) I use very soft clay and little water to throw. I only use water when I centre clay, and after that I use slip stuck on my hands. This works well with my soft touch throwing at slow speed. : )

  2. Thank you, Midori :) I would like to know whether one can throw very large pots with soft clay .. I think this is why some potters dry the lower section with a gas burner, before throwing more clay onto it.