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I need to find the best All-In-One clay for cone 5, great for both hand building and wheel throwing

I know.  That's a tall order.  But I can dream.  I have a pug mill and don't want 2 bodies.  

Problem:  I have too many problems with my gas kiln for cone 06 anymore.  I'm DONE.  I am moving to cone 5.

Criteria / Factors:

  • I'm in Southern California
  • I teach 180  high school students grades 9-12, all levels of art skills, so it has to take punishment
  • Not too sandy on the wheel, not too smooth or squishy for hand building
  • Not too dense so it is so top-heavy when trimming
  • I'm willing to pug the new clay to soften it for throwing, if it is stiff and great for hand building, or visa versa
  • Doesn't stain clothes or the tables, rolling pins, or make a mess everywhere
  • Is not pure white (students can't see where they missed glazing spots when using light color glazes - painting)
  • Good leather hard, doesn't soften up too easily when re-wetting  to score things together
  • Doesn't take every indentation to the surface of pieces, temperamentalD
  • Centers on the wheel fairly easily, especially for teen girls with tiny hands
  • Can take a good amount of water from beginners
  • Pulling walls, it is strong, doesn't warp or sag easily
  • Won't dry out too quickly in hands while hand building
  • Doesn't bend or warp easily when removing from the wheel
  • Not so soft that it caves when cutting and sliding off the wheel
  • Doesn't make teens hate the class because it stains clothes or gets everywhere
  • and of course, takes glazes well and can handle a little fluctuation in gas environments

Cone 5 clays I've Tried:

  • Laguna - Dover White:  Nice clay, but pure white.  easy to center, but A little soft when hand building
  • Laguna - Plain (Buff):  Nice light tan color, easy center and to rehydrate if repairing, but a bit too squishy and shows every dent
  • Laguna - Moroccan Sand: I love this clay, doesn't leave residue - color, but a bit dense to center.  It is really dark grayish brown, if they only could lighten it
  • Laguna - Buff with Sand:  Nice tan color, but WAY too sandy for students on the wheel
  • Laguna - Greystone: Too dense and top heavy for  small pieces, hard to center, but really takes a beating with water, warps when thin due to density of surrounding clay
  • Laguna - Speckled Buff:  A bit dark in color, has iron so it gets read everywhere, could stain (think girls with pure white vans)
  • Laguna - LB-6: hmmm, can't remember, but nixed it very soon after
  • Laguna - Sante Fe:  OMG - red EVERYWHERE, like a crime scene
  • Aardvark Clay - SBF - Too dark tan - a bit sticky for students
  • Aardvark Clay -Arctic White:  Too white

Opinions????  Go!!!


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Believe it or not, but I have also tried most of those clays over the last 10 years.  For a variety of reasons.  At this moment I am using Laguna #16 and Laguna WC429.  They are both easy to work with in a number of techniques and most important to me, work well with my glazes and make sturdy functional ware.   But I do not believe they would work for you with your criteria.  

You did not mention Laguna Half and Half WC402.  It has some grog to make it stable but not too rough.  Before I read your list I was going to suggest  Aardvark's Artic White.   It was stable and easy to work with as was Texas White.  I do know that they use Laguna Dover White at our local community college.  Laguna WC398 is not on your list.  I haven't tried it but it sounds promising for you.  

Would you have space in your classroom for your students to change their shoes or wear aprons?  Clay is messy and that does seem to go along with the process.  There are a number of teachers on this forum that may have better advice for you in that respect.  


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You apparently haven't tried Laguna B-Mix 5 with grog. I use smooth B-Mix for all my throwing of functional ware and am considering the grogged version for Raku work. I'll have to run some tests to see if it will hold up to the thermal shock of the Raku firing.


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