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shipping $$ baloney

updated thu 24 oct 02


Ron Collins on wed 23 oct 02

Dear Carol,

I can talk to you about this, and hope that you will read carefully, and =
not write off the suggestions, as I have not always cared about the =
subject, and on this subject, I know what I am talking about. =
Formerly, in Texas, I never made clay, had no interest or time, etc, =
etc. As a result, I always considered myself a intermediate, not =
particularly knowledgable, and never learned much. Never went to a =
workshop in my life, Just made my stuff, sold it to supplement income, =
about it. Very large raku vases and some stoneware.No computer, no =
clayart, lived an hour from David Hendley and 2 hrs from Dannon Rhudy, =
and never even heard of them ! So that's where I was at, not real aware =
was an understatement, although I was juggling 2 jobs and single.... =
Secluded, doing my solitary thing with everything ordered from Armadillo =
in Austin, or Trinity in Dallas. Didn't give a hoot what was in what. =20

Then I moved out of the country, into a country with very high customs =
duties, and very expensive sea freight, and no clay suppliers or anyone =
else in the country working at high fire, in either stoneware or =
porcelain, and there being no others to help me. That was 4 years ago. =
I went to work, and became a potter then, after working in clay for 20 =
years/off and on....

Please consider this:

1. Make your own clay. You do not need equipment. The clay can and =
possibly will be superior to what you can buy. If you are considering =
buying such small amounts, it makes no sense to order it. Even if you =
need larger amounts, unless you are Bill Campbell, you can make yours =
the old fashioned way, and it's good, good stuff.

2. If you can make a cake, you can make clay. Although many on clayart =
argue how many angels can fit on the head of a nichrome wire pin, it is =
a simple process.

3. As a new person, you may not be aware how truly easy it is to throw =
larger pieces, or just throw and center in general, until you make your =
own soft clay, and don't have to depend on the consistency of whatever =
they decide to send you; =20

4. I live in Guatemala, where many raw materials are not available, and =
I manage fine. I have recently had to order, but ordered a ton of the =
two things that I cannot get here anymore from the toilet factory.....I =
could have gotten by without, but only want to work with white porcelain =
so I've got a good supply of OM4 and EPK... It is interesting that a =
recent thread was mentioning black clay...again, some ego again, but I =
make a beyond wonderful basalt black clay, and beautiful micaceous red =
low fire...don't do much with it....but I believe that Alaska is a =
pretty big place with beautiful places to dig...what's nice is that you =
do it usually by the side of the road, where they have dug through =
mountains and you get the nice geological strata....I always travel with =
plastic bags a shovel and a pick in my truck. However, my main clay is =
all purchased raw materials, not prospected materials, but I know that =
depending on what I want to do, I could and can. By the way, I've been =
firing industrial grade garnets lately and you ought to see what they =
look like fired....what's Alaska have? I bet, some nice you =
have a test kiln? =20

5. I know for a fact that you can find what you need to make clay if =
you look. It doesn't matter if you live in a studio apartment, you can =
still make clay.

6. Make it. Decide what temperature you are going to fire at. What =
kind of clay you want. Stoneware, porcelain, a B-mix type porcelaneous =
stoneware, low fire earthenware. When you decide what kind of clay, and =
what color, consistency (smooth or more groggy, and coarse), there are =
plenty of people ready to give you formulas to try, lots of people make =
their own, it's not uncommon, they want the best also......but don't =
whine around, just decide ahead what type of clay, and make what works =
from the advice of people on this list who know. Stick to one type of =
clay to begin with. You can do raku from about any kind, if you know =
what to wedge in to open up the body, and don't they have sand in =
Alaska? or nice, red earthenware by the side of the probably =
are not doing raku anyway...I just do it now for students because they =
all like it's just fun...

7. Your part, initially, is to look up some common recipes for the type =
of clay you want to make, find out what is in it, find it in your area, =
and then ask a few clayart questions, and do your homework. =20

8. Mainly, and most importantly, having done this, you will never again =
write to clayart and have to say "I am a newbie" will know what =
you are doing and what you are talking about. AND you will be =
independent...which is very important in an isolated situation like =
yours and mine. =20

9. I'll tell you what I do, if you will write me off-line, because =
most clayart folks know my trials and tribulations, and I'll spare them =
more of that....

Please assert yourself with that clay and get independent, and =
knowledgeable at the same time.....You will be so proud of =
yourself.....good luck and my best wishes....get on the telephone, talk =
to some people around towns around, , and then kick clay ass...making =
pieces is the easy part of what you are about to embark won't =
be a newbie anymore, after you make your own clays, glazes, and they =
aren't a instant soup mix, they are your own gourmet creation.......and =
when you serve a dinner party and put your best foot forward, which do =
you present? Instant, or the best you can make? And do you have to =
order salmon from Seattle to do it? Melinda Collins, Antigua, Guatemala