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What general purpose stoneware clay could you recommend?


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#1 MichaelP

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:32 PM

What could you recommend as a "staple" commercial clay to be used for both handbuilding and throwing? I don't have a personal experience with many different clays, but I'd like to start making test tiles for glazes. That's why I'll need to choose a clay I could be working with most of the time.

It should be Cone 5-6 stoneware (electric kiln exclusively for everything incl. glazing).
What do you use as a "universal" clay? What's its color?

What do you think about white clays? Would you consider any of them to be your "staple"?

Thank you.

Mike

#2 Biglou13

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 07:07 AM

What region do you live? ( helps some clays are somewhat localized)

Do you prefer a red, buff, brown, dark brown , white body?

W hat are you interested in building? Non food or functional have different clay needs...... Large, outdoor piece, does it need to hold water?............,,

What temp /cone will you be firing too.

White is white. Unless i specifically need white in my color design. I stay away. Others work exclusively in white.

Also some clays have different "feel" charteristic, grit, plasticity, non,plasticity, different levels of grog/sand.

Some become accustomed to working with a specific clay

My favorite (for now) ended up being a mutt clay (mix)

Right now I using laguna # 900 it was on sale here is mfgr description

"This is considered by many to be the best clay for production pottery. Ideal for those who Sgraffito, wax resist and want a finer texture to minimize picking. Great for planters, etc. "

It is working for my glaze pallete, I like the way it feels,and will love the way it looks now and will love it more if and when I fire higher than cone 6, and get into some reduction. Without tweaking its buff at 6 ox. Almost. Beige ( dang used the b- word)

If your working at community studio find out what clays they suggest. Because not all glazes go with all clays......, not all clays fit all firing systems......
Caution big brother is watching.
The beige is blinding!!!!!!
The middle of the road is boring

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
-Albert Einstein

#3 OffCenter

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 07:39 AM

Wht Biglou says plus test lots of clays. Some places offer samples if you pay shipping or other deals. Even if it turns out a bit expensive, it is worth it to buy lots of samples from all over so you can actually feel the clay and work it and see what it looks like glazed and fired your way. And don't forget if you mix your own clay, you can try all kinds of recipes and tweak them. Finally, don't forget you may be standing over a bunch of free clay that just needs a little work to be a good production body.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#4 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 07:47 AM

You can check local suppliers web pages and see color samples.
It is more practical to buy your clay locally because shipping costs add up ..especially when pre-mixed clay is 30% water.
The clay body descriptions recommend whether the clays are for throwing or hand building. Supplies vary from small geographic
areas.
Are there any potters in your area? Ask them what they are using.

Marcia

#5 AtomicAxe

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:19 AM

What others have said plus ...

Finding a company that produces their own clay vs getting it from someplace like laguna or axner is generally cheaper ... as a whole my last order of clay was 1000 lbs for $450 with shipping where as if I went with an axner supplier in my region ... around $600-800. So I will always pump that over a bigger company ... one side, you know that laguna b-mix won't change ever so slightly from batch to batch to batch so consistancy is ensured ... but some companies will offer a versatile variety without sacrificing quality.

Other than that it's all personal preference. So it's all about testing ... but here are a few commercial clays I like:

Laguna b-mix (without grog) is nice and smooth with ease of use in terms of throwing.
new mexico clay has a nice ^6 red clay that is pretty groggy but isn't like throwing marshmallow fluff and holds up to some aggressive throwing / building
laguna frost .. nice little ^5-6 porcelain that doesn't have some of the warping that others will have
Axner, for ^10 I went with sophies white stoneware when I wanted pre-mixed but I have tried the ^5-6 mikes stoneware and I like the color and the consistancy
Trinity also has some decent clay bodies ... nothing spectacular, the mid range red is nice, the stoneware white is consistant and the porcelain is smooth and plastic ... so they are going to be my new suppliers.

#6 Diane Puckett

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:35 AM

I made the mistake of using new clays and mixing new glazes at the same time I was using a new kiln. That was too many variables to do any problem solving. After several years of throwing a lot of work in the trash and assuming the problem was either the glazes I mixed or the way I was firing the kiln, a friend brought me some clays from a different manufacturer. I made nearly eighty test cups and tested all my glazes. I had no glaze issues on the cups made from the new clays.

I assume you are familiar with your kiln and that it is firing to cone. In choosing a clay, make sure you have no problems with it before using with your test glazes. Maybe even find some other potters who use it successfully and will let you dip some sample pots in their glazes and fire them in your kiln.

Of the three problem clays I had been using, the white was the least problematic. I decided to get white clays from the new manufacturer, assuming that they would have less in them to cause glaze problems. Now that I know I really am capable of mixing glazes and firing a kiln, I will add in some darker clays. I know I could put in the effort to find glazes to work with the problem clays, but I don't want to waste any more time with them.

The white clays I am using are Laguna B-Mix and Frost porcelain. I got the procelain because i figured that was about as clean a clay as i could get. I fire to cone 6 oxidation and have had no problem with about fifteen glazes. My experience is that test tiles are good for seeing colors, but small cups or bowls really show any problems far more clearly.
Diane Puckett
Dry Ridge Pottery

#7 OffCenter

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 10:26 AM

Marcia made a good point about buying locally because of the cost of shipping, but test clays from all over because if you find one that you like that isn't stocked by your local store most will stock a new clay for you if they think you're be ordering lots of it from them.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#8 MichaelP

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:04 PM

Very good points, everyone. I knew my question was vague, but I guess it was too vague.

I'm in Chicago area. One of the known suppliers here is Chicago Ceramic Supply. Looks like I should choose my stoneware from those two pages: http://shop.ceramics...param=cid%3D%26

http://shop.ceramics...param=cid%3D%26

It's a hobby for me and my wife, so no production quantities or DIY clay. Our pottery is of small-to-medium sizes (not larger than 1'x1'x1.5'h), both for food and decorative. As I mentioned, both the clay and glazes should be suitable for an oxidizing firing in electric kiln, and I'm looking for Cone 5-6 stoneware.

The reason I mentioned white body is that I think glazes will look their best on it. Well, "best" is, probably, not the right word. Let's say they will, potentially, look closer to the manufacturer's color samples. I do like darker clays look nevertheless.

I realize that I can and should choose clay suitable for a particular task. At the same time, I understand that in real life people stay with a particular stoneware most of the time. In my case, it should be suitable for both handbuilbing and throwing, although I realize that "Jack of all trades, master of none" will always apply.

#9 Diane Puckett

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 02:45 PM

I like B-Mix for both throwing and handbuilding. I have been using the one without grog. For some reason, I think it is also available with grog.
Diane Puckett
Dry Ridge Pottery

#10 OffCenter

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 03:23 PM

I like B-Mix for both throwing and handbuilding. I have been using the one without grog. For some reason, I think it is also available with grog.


B-Mix is available without grog, with grog, with sand, with paper.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#11 GEP

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 04:43 PM

If you are firing to cone 6, I would avoid clays that have a firing range of cone 6-10. Those clays will not really be vitrified enough for functional ware at cone 6. I've seen pots made with these clays turn moldy because they are always retaining moisture. That should narrow down your choices a lot.

So amongst the choices at your local supplier, Standard 240 would be a good choice. I've never used it, so my recommendation is just based in your firing range, but I've never been unhappy with any Standard clays.

Mea
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#12 MichaelP

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 05:26 PM

Thank you.




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