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Cindy Reynolds

Can You Help Me Identify This Clay - In This Photo

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Hi. This is a Matranga pot from the mid 1960's to early 1970's. It's light brown on the unglazed inside area.  But inside , according to this photo, is grey with white specks. Is this photo accurate? Does it look real? would the clay be so different from the unglazed area that is light brown? What is this clay called? I just started collecting vintage pottery so I don't know very much really. I appreciate your help. Thank you

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Looks like a bad case of "black coring", something potters try to avoid. It's caused by not enough oxygen in the bisque and/or body reduction at too low a temperature for high iron clays.

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Can you take a picture from the top looking down into the chipped area please? Close as possible, but still in focus. This looks like an old brick recipe: stoneware clay originated from brick. Obviously a very high iron clay body. Common to gas fire and purposely reduce the iron to produce coring; also called black glass back in those days.  The white specks should be mullite, added as a grog to control thermal expansion. A close up will say more.

T

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Are you sure about your dates on this piece? Been thinking about this: I think the white specks are vermiculite, and not mullite. I have a piece of brick from a house built in 1928, which I have been meaning to look at under a scope. Many similarities, although brick clay recipes made little changes until the 60's.

Tom

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Cindy why do you want to know? Do you want to make to make pottery Franks style? Or as a collector you’d like to know.  

Thank you for asking this question. If you indeed are talking about Frank Matranga he’s a fascinating artist to learn about as well as a ceramic muralist.  

I was researching to get an idea (Southern California L A harbour Junior College 1961 for 20 years) and cant figure out if he bought clay or harvested clay. 1960s.  A GI Bill potter who lived in Japan in the 70s.  What would he do? Don’t know when bags of clay became a regular thing. 

What was happening with clay then? Don’t know.  But I do know he used red stoneware. You see it in pictures. You see it in your photograph.  Later on in life he also threw with porcelain. 

Time refersnce - died 2016 at age 83. He started teaching in 1957.  He opened his own studio in 1970.  

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Looking again at this pot, isnt’t it the bottom part of a lidded pot?  Has the lid been lost?

We can see that the outside and MOST of the inside of this pot is glazed, but not the gallery (the uppermost part of the inside) - that is just the raw clay body.  Lidded pots are often (always?) made this way (gallery unglazed) so that they can be fired with the lid on.   Otherwise the glaze would melt and stick the lid in place during the firing and you would never get it off! Probably this is how this pot was fired.  

Importantly, the light clay we are seeing is where the gallery is, ie on the inside where the lid  would have been sitting during the glaze firing.  Since this pot was originally almost certainly fired in reduction (a gas or wood kin rather than an electric kiln), the presence of the lid would have prevented the kiln gasses from touching the gallery area where the kiln was sitting, preventing the clay where the lid was from getting reduced (blackened).   So that unglazed clay directly adjacent to where the lid would have been during firing has stayed unreduced (lighter brown), much as it would have been if the whole pot would have been fired in an electric kiln (oxidation).    If you look closely there are still white specks even in the light brown part of the clay, since they are part of the clay body material the whole pot was made from.

Just a theory, but it seems to fit the evidence.

Also, what kind of clay?   I think glazenerd may be right that it could be a brick clay of some kind.  In fact, where I live we have a brick clay that looks just like this - right down to the white specks - when fired in reduction.  Significantly, it has a couple % Manganese dioxide in it as the main (darkening) colorant.   Will try to post photos if I can locate a sample.   Who knows, maybe the clay even came from here!  Although that would be a long journey for some raw clay!  

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Here are the original pics. I started to collect this mans work after finding  2 of these pots in a goodwill for $3.75 each. This one was sold and the man who bought it from me for $125.00 wants his money back but does not want to return the pot to me. He said it was damaged in shipping but I had it professionally packed with literally 4" of bubble wrap and tissue on top of that, lid was separate. all I have to go on is his photo of the damage. I was trying to see if the photos looked real. If he returned it that is one thing but to keep it and get a refund based on a photo only is not right to me. I had to sell 1 pot to pay bills so I can stay in school so it's a lot of money to me. Thank you for your info. I LOVE mid century pottery and want to collect more. I hope I dont have to sell the other one.

I'm basing the date on the artist. His wife dated the pots from photos in an email to me. She said late 1950's to 1960's. I thought they looked early 70's in style. I think he died in the 70's if I remember correctly.

 

Thanks again everyone.

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I just saw the dates above about the artist. I was way off! His wife/widow emailed me a while ago after he died. I think 60's/70's. They have a very mid century style but she did say late 50's. She acted like she remembered these pots. But Thats all I have to go on date wise. I have a lot of vintage stone wear from the 50's to the 70's Ive picked up in my travels over the past 10 years. Most unsigned.

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Yes, it’s totally possible for his picture to be authentic as to the black colouration inside the broken pot wall. There is a fair difference between the glaze colour from the original picture from your buyer and your Etsy images, which are more accurate?

It’s safest to ship ceramics in double boxes. Bubble wrap the item, pack it into a box so there is no wiggle room for the pot to move around then place that box inside another one, peanuts or fill underneath the box around all sides and on top, heap the peanuts on top so they are compressed when you close up the box, again no wiggle room for the inner box to move around. 

I would cover the return shipping if he received it in damaged condition, but I would expect it to be returned before issuing a refund. What is your Etsy shop policy on items received in damaged condition?

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When I tried to get restitution for an item damaged in shipping, I was asked  to show the packaging as it was delivered. 

That damage seems to have been caused by a sharp blow or a steady pressure on that edge. 

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Finally located the sample of the brick clay I was referring to a few posts above when we were trying to identify the clay type in this thread.

I had to (gulp!) break my sample bars to see what the interior clay body looked like.  The top two pieces are the bar fired in the wood kiln, the middle two pieces are the bar fired in electric kiln, and the bottom two pieces are the bar fired in the gas kiln.  All Cone 10. 

Note the big white specs, which I am pretty sure are flint or similar.  They may look solid white to the naked eye, but close up (see pictures below at 10x and 700x magnification)  it is clear (to me at least) that they are some kind of quartz-like silica material.

Brick Clay.jpg

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