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creating a demand for potter specific materials ; was: handles

updated sat 31 mar 07


Lee Love on sat 31 mar 07

On 3/31/07, Thomas Malone wrote:

> air floated clays are not common. Perhaps you have had a bad experience, or
> perhaps you have not tried clays other than from Japan or the USA?

I used the best clays in America. Minnesota Clay was making
test runs of a "Minnesota Indigenous Clay", but too many people used
to industrial clays did not like the variety that the clay produced.
It was pretty nice, the indigenous part being an iron bearing kaolin
that felt like silk to throw. On my first visit to Japan, I gave
guinomi of this clay with a shino glaze on it as presents. But they
never went into production, but never went into production because of
the complaints about a lack of uniformity. It was a great clay,
espeically in woodfire.

Thomas, If you tried both kinds of clays, you would understand
the difference.

But, we will never have potter specific materials if potters
are not educated about them. If we demand them, the clay store will
provide them. It is like the complaint about Helmers we heard here,
that it didn't vitrify at cone 10! That is a quality you want in
clay for teaware like Shino. With clay here in the East it is just
like Eskimos and Snow: there are a thousand names, but if you can't
tell the difference you have no clue.

Industrial clays are refined for uniformity and to conform
to the requirements of industry. Potter specific clays do not
refine the character out of the clay, so there is more variety in its
response. Industrial glazes are good for making urinals but not tea

My main clay comes from a quarry 15 minutes from my house.
It is dug out of a pond with a backhoe. It is blunged and then
run through screens and is only dried enough to pug. Unlike clays
mixed from dry ingredients like what Matt is talking about, there is
no need to worry about the mixing, because it was never separated.
There is no need for aging, because it was never killed or "made

I put up some photos from the Mashiko Clay Cooperative. You
can see the giant filter presses and tanks where the clays are

Lee in Mashiko, Japan
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." -
Henry David Thoreau

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." - Rumi