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fireclay in belgium?

updated tue 3 jun 03


Russel Fouts on sun 1 jun 03

I was talking with sometimes clayarter and naked raku(ist?) Wally
Asselberghs yesterday. He has a slip receipe from Charlie Riggs that
calls for fireclay. I mentiononed that fireclays are associated with
coal seams and since Belgium had been one one the leading european
exporters of coal, we must have a lot here but he'd never heard of such
a thing.

We could check with local geologists but maybe offhand, someone might be
able to say why we wouldn't have them or why they might not be
available. We thought it might have to do with the method of coal
mining. Here in Belgium it was done by digging tunnels. In the us a lot
of it is strip mining in big pits. "Get that top layer of clay off'a
there and let us at that coal"

Russel Fouts
Mes Potes & Mes Pots
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 223 02 75
Mobile: +32 476 55 38 75

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Alisa Clausen on sun 1 jun 03

Dear Russel,
I have had this discussion with several Danish ceramists as well. No one
here knows what it is.

The last time I was at Skælskør, our big ceramic center, I asked Nina Hole
to talk to the big guys at Cerama, our importer, to import it with all the
other stuff they get from USA. We have warehouses full of Gerstely Borate
because no one used that stuff here. Only people who have been in the
states and had the chance to Raku fire. My interest in getting the fire clay
is exactly the same reason you have. Linda and Wally's recipes. But, I may
be on to making the right slip without it. I will post the recipe we on
this side can make w/o fire clay if it works!

regards from Alisa in Denmark

Joe Coniglio on mon 2 jun 03

I've heard of it here, stateside. It's in the southwest.

It is a low fire clay found in the oil, coal and shale country. The clay
itself had enough combustable material in it, that the pottery itself had
some of it's own fuel in it. People who could access it, took years to
master it's use. In it's raw state it still needs grog or crushed pottery
powders (that's what the indians used) to stabilize it. It's a novelty
really for any serious user today.

Puebloan and Navajos access it. It's on Gov't mineral production land.
Probably found in creek washes and in seams out there in Utah, NM, CO and AZ.
It's probably not to hard to find if you are out there trampling it under

See, from what I can tell, it's not sought after and was not particularly
sought after, it was more like the only clay the natives used in their

Yes, what made it cool is that there was enough fuel in it to burn and to
some extent is helped to "self-vitrify" the pot. It's a facinate path to
take and it will take time to explore to get results.

It's not impossible to find. There are never enough friends to procure this
stuff for you. Other than that, it's really having to be in the right place
at the right time-----and only then, through trial and error --utilitzed.

Bottom line, It's difficult to work with and made "awful pots" forgive me,
unless you had good recipe the kind that was handed down from mother to
daughter in the tribes. It bloated, it burned away. It was brittle etc. But
for those of us who love the effects of fire, I'm sure it has a special place
and merit all of it's own once it's handled properly.

Very much like the some naturally mica laden clays. It was just "there" so
it was used. It was probably more of a problem material than something that
was sought after and still goes by the way of --use what you've got to work