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salt kiln/clay

updated sun 18 jun 00


Joyce Lee on fri 16 jun 00

Okay, Tony, you've convinced me..... I'm not building a tiny salt
kiln..... seems I make this decision at least yearly. I recall that we
had such a discussion sometime ago and then I concluded that I'd be
better off spending my time learning other aspects of pottery. As it is
I've spent three years or more on shino and am not through learning
about IT by a long shot .... slow learner and late bloomer that I am.

Anyway, my subject line also says "clay"..... Apparently, I've been
throwing with my clay way too hard and dry from the very beginning of my
compelling need to create pots. Other potters who use my studio always
complain. But it's all I've known and I figured that's the way it is in
the desert. I'm now working with extrusions and cannot accept those
conditions ... or Bailey warns me that I may destroy my new equipment.
Sooo I've made sure that even my new clay right out of the bag has a
series of holes punched in it to the bottom of the block (I use the
handle part of a bicycle pump for this little chore; my dowels kept
going squish and getting stuck... difficult to remove; with the pump
handle, the holes are nice and even and no problem removing the handle);
I then pour water into the holes leaving the clay in its plastic bag,
put another bag over the top, and put the whole thing in a bucket with a
tight lid. When I'm unhappy with an extrusion as is for a pot, I slice
it vertically and use it as a slab for making wall plaques etc so as to
not waste my efforts ...... but several days ago I decided to just wedge
the what-I-considered-to-be very soft "extruder" clay and throw with it.
What a delight! Forms that have never been dependable for me suddenly
were pretty easy and fast to throw!! Viola! and damn...... guess "soft
clay" was just another one of those vague potterly terms that I didn't
get .... like "let it set for a while until it's ready" ... how long is
a while? how do you know it's ready? what are we looking for here? I do
believe that this is a breakthrough. What did we use to call that in the
long ago..... serendipity?? If that's it, then serenade my dipity
because I am very pleased! (How soft IS my clay, you ask? Just soft

In the Mojave where we don't talk about the 115 degree F heat PLUS
humidity ... just press on........ I left the carton of canned cokes in
the backseat for a few hours today and when I drove off and the cool air
hit them it sounded like a series of gunshots ..... we have to make our
own fun out here in the desert.....