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paperclay and axner

updated thu 25 jan 01


Cindy Strnad on wed 24 jan 01

Hi, Cynthia.

Lots of us Cindys on the list lately, huh? Good we all spell our names
differently. Anyhow, to your question . . . I can't answer specifically for
Axner's paper clay. I can tell you it was my understanding they were getting
it directly from the originator. I've seen their clay operation and they're
very exacting in production. I can't see them putting out a sub-standard
clay and I'm sure anything you get from them in that line will be great. I
suggest you try a box and see whether you like it.

That said, I, too, have had trouble with their customer service. I would
have bought my first large kiln from them if I could have gotten anyone's
attention. I couldn't manage to get the sales rep to call me back, and I
never could get through to her directly. Axner's is a classy operation, and
they need to see that they're represented that way in all their departments.

So, back to paper clay. I can't help you with specific percentages. That
will be something you'll want to experiment with directly. I'm kind of a
taste and dump cook anyhow, and it doesn't sound as if that would suit you.
Paper is very light in comparison to our other ingredients, however, and 10%
sounds like really quite enough. When I want paper clay I just add a bunch
of toilet paper to my mixer/pugger and let it churn a little longer than

One thing you'll want to consider: Paper clay will dull your cutting tools
and clog up your loops. It will collect along the edges of your blades and
you'll have to be clearing it off constantly. For this reason, I don't use
it often, as I do a lot of cutting. Also because I make a lot of utilitarian
wares, and don't want that much porosity in my clay for those pieces.

I'm not sure it would be a good choice for sculptural pieces that will be
left out in the freeze/thaw cycles of nature, either. I see men working on
Mount Rushmore every spring sealing up the cracks and pores in the granite,
and Crazy Horse has several supporting rods in his schnoz to keep the tip of
it from falling on someone's head. So nature does take its toll.

Paper clay is wonderful to work with if you're building thick, dense stuff
which you need to dry without cracking, though, and it does make attachments
less likely to fall off. Paper clay will make it possible for you to do
things you wouldn't be able to do with ordinary clay--just as long as you
understand that it does have its limitations.

Cindy Strnad
Earthen Vessels Pottery
RR 1, Box 51
Custer, SD 57730